An Iron Age Massacre Frozen in Time

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Archaeologists studying human remains from the ancient town of La Hoya in Spain has revealed further evidence of an Iron Age Massacre.

La Hoya is an archaeological site of the Bronze and Iron Ages of the Basque Country, which was destroyed between 350-200 BC during a violent attack on the inhabitants.

The town was situated in the fertile Ebro Valley around 1500 BC during the Middle-Late Bronze Age, a region that was strategically positioned between the Mediterranean and Spain’s interior.


At its peak during the Late Iron Age, the population reached around 1,500 inhabitants who enjoyed a complex urbanised lifestyle.

Excavations conducted during the early 1970’s uncovered human remains left in situ on the town’s streets, with evidence of burning that led archaeologists to conclude that the inhabitants were massacred by an attacking force.

A new study on the victims remains by Dr Fernández-Crespo, from the University of Oxford, and a team of archaeologists has revealed that the attackers did not differentiate between slaughtering men, woman and children, leaving their victims where they died, with some inhabitants left in burning buildings as the settlement was destroyed.

“One male suffered multiple frontal injuries, suggesting that he was facing his attacker,” said Dr Fernández-Crespo, adding “This individual was decapitated but the skull was not recovered and may have been taken as a trophy.”

Researchers also propose that the attacking force was large and well-organised, with the single aim for the total destruction of La Hoya and its inhabitants. This suggests that large scale warfare was already happening in Spain prior to the emergence of the Romans in the Region.

“The new analysis of the human skeletal remains from La Hoya reminds us very forcefully that the prehistoric past was not always the peaceful place it is sometimes made out to be,” said Dr Fernández-Crespo.


Header Image Credit : Antiquity

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