Badger digs up medieval tombs in Germany

Claudine Zap

A badger has outfoxed archeologists, digging up two “significant” 12th-century tombs of two Slavic lords in Germany, reports Spiegel Online.

The find, in a town called Stolpe in Brandenburg, happened last fall, but became public only this week.

Two sculptors, Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring, who also happen to be amateur archeologists, came upon the badger sett, or den, near where they had been planning to exhibit some of their work.

"We spotted a pelvic bone that had been dug up, it was clearly human," Ring told Spiegel Online. "It wasn't exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s.

“So we pushed a camera into the badger's sett and took photos by remote control. We found pieces of jewelry, retrieved them and contacted the authorities," Ring said.

Archeologists eventually dug up eight graves from the first half of the 12th century at the site, including two containing skeletons of Slavic chieftains and an array of artifacts: a sword, bronze bowls and a belt buckle.

"We hadn't found graves like that in Brandenburg before, so it's an important discovery," said Thomas Kersting, an archeologist at the Brandenburg Department for Monument Protection.

The badger hasn’t returned to the site of the discovery, but does get credit for the find. "This doesn't make him an archeologist, but he's the one who discovered it," said Lars Wilhelm, who received an honorary award for services to archeology in Brandenburg.