Nuremberg archaeologists restore rare Bronze Age chariot burial artifacts | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 25.01.2019
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Nuremberg archaeologists restore rare Bronze Age chariot burial artifacts

A rare find: The Germanic National Museum is restoring the remains from a Bronze Age chariot burial. It will take years to examine and restore the artifacts before they are presented to the public.

The artifacts from a "chariot burial," a grave where the deceased was buried with his wagon, in the Lower Bavarian market town Essenbach, have been handed to the Germanic National Museum (GNM) in Nuremberg for restoration. They will be displayed in a GNM collection in the future.

Angelika Hofmann, head of the GNM Prehistoric and Early History collection, said the "urn field culture" (1,300 - 800 BC) find was exceptionally rare. "Only the most important personalities were buried like that," she explained, adding that only two chariot burials from that age have been found so far, making the Essenbach find the third. 

Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg - Überresten eines sogenannten Wagengrabes

A gold ring found in the grave

It was the grave of a member of the elite "having an economic, political or religious influence." Such an elite "didn't even make up one percent of the population at the time," said Hofmann.

In the municipality of Landshut, construction workers developing a housing estate in 2011 found the grave in which the deceased person had been buried along with a horse's harness and wagon.

Exhibits at the GNM, Golden Cone

The artifacts from the chariot burial will find a new home near the museum's famous Golden Cone

There was not much left, as bodies were cremated in that era: a sword, a gold ring, a razor, ceramic vessels and the bronze fittings of the wagon bear witness to the importance of the dead person. The grave, recognizable as a rectangle marked by discolorations in the soil, measures 2.15 by 1.15 meters. 

The chariot burial was part of a larger burial place that holds about 30 urn graves. Archaeologists will now clean, analyze and restore the artifacts — only then will they be shown in the "Bronze Age Elites" section in the museum's permanent exhibition, alongside other treasures like the Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf and the Bronze Helmet of Thronberg.

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