A collection found in the Tollense, probably the belongings of a warrior who died in battle 3,300 years ago. Image: Volker Minkus

Archaeologists at the site of an ancient battle in Germany say newly uncovered artefacts suggest many of those involved were not local men but came from further afield.

The clash took place around 3,300 years ago in the Tollense Valley in north-eastern Germany. It was part of a massive conflict in the older Nordic Bronze Age (2000-1200 BC).

Since the site’s discovery in 2008, the remains of almost 12,000 humans have been uncovered, many of which revealed impact from close- and long-range weaponry.

It is new artefacts from the site that now suggest the presence on the battlefield of far-travelled warriors.

A team led by Dr Joachim Krüger of the University of Greifswald discovered belongings at the bottom of the river, which would have protected them from looting.

The Tollense River in North-Eastern Germany. Image: Volker Minkus

As well as knives and fragments of bronze, the stash also contained three bronze cylinders apparently designed to hold personal gear. Up until now, such items have only been discovered hundreds of miles away in southern Germany and eastern France.

‘This was puzzling for us,’ said Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, who co-authored a report on the findings.

‘There is increasing evidence that at least some of the warriors originated in southern Central Europe.’

Analysis indicates the group may have originated from the historic region of Bohemia in the south, traversing half the length of modern Germany before fighting at Tollense.

This article was published in the December 2019 issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.