Christian Meyer, an archaeologist who led the study at the University of Mainz, believes the attackers meant to terrorise others and demonstrate that they could annihilate an entire village. The site of the mass grave, which dates back to about 5000 BC, is located near an ancient border between different communities, where conflict was likely.Like a good scientist, Meyer is cautious about what actually happened at Schöneck-Kilianstädten:
“On one hand you are curious to find out more about this, but also shocked to see what people can do to each other,” he said.
“This is a classic case where we find the ‘hardware’: the skeletal remains, the artefacts, everything that is durable we can find in the graves. But the ‘software’: what people were thinking, why they were doing things, what their mindset was at this time, of course was not preserved,” Meyer said.
Herxheim and other sites in Germany and Austria, around the end of the Early Neolithic. That period saw a significant decline in the population of central Europe, and evidence is mounting the that era experieced widespread, horrific violence.