Mammoth bones found in Austrian wine cellar

A winemaker has stumbled across 40,000 year-old mammoth bones while renovating his wine cellar in Gobelsburg, Austria.

A mammoth is any species of the extinct elephantid genus Mammuthus and are distinguished from living elephants by their (typically large) spirally twisted tusks.

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The discovery was reported to the Federal Monuments Office, resulting in an excavation by the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).

Excavations have revealed a dense layer of mammoth bones, in addition to flint artefacts and jewellery made from fossils in an adjacent cellar.

According to the researchers, the finds roughly date from 30,000 to 40,000 year-ago during the Last Glacial Period.

Based on the number of bones found in situ, the team suggest that the remains belong to three individual mammoths that likely died from a trap set by hunters.

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It is thought that prehistoric hunters used torches and branches to separate individual mammoths from the herd and steered them into trap pits or natural features such as  ridges.

“Such a dense layer of bones is rare,” says Hannah Parow-Souchon, who is leading the excavation. “It is the first time that we have been able to examine something like this in Austria using modern means – a unique opportunity for research.” Other comparable sites in Austria and neighboring countries were mostly dug at least 100 years ago and are largely lost to modern research.

The mammoth remains are currently being examined by researchers and will subsequently be handed over to the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

Header Image Credit : OEAW

Sources : OEAW

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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