Battle of Tollense - Northern European Bronze Age

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
Isn't that a fascinating site? We were just discussing it over at the Bronze Age Center. Photos of the war clubs turned up a couple years ago (they're on my "to do" list!), but this article had a lot more information overall. Quite a pile of bones, for sure!

This was amazingly insightful:

Before the 1990s, “for a long time we didn’t really believe in war in prehistory,” DAI’s Hansen says. The grave goods were explained as prestige objects or symbols of power rather than actual weapons. “Most people thought ancient society was peaceful, and that Bronze Age males were concerned with trading and so on,” says Helle Vandkilde, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark. “Very few talked about warfare.”
Yeah, no kidding! THOUSANDS of finds of highly refined weapons, warrior burials, mass graves of people chopped up, and there are literally whole books about ancient warfare that really don't want to admit that warfare happened!

Add to that the latest in Victorian "research" on arms and armor:

“If you fight with body armor and helmet and corselet, you need daily training or you can’t move,” Hansen says.
Absolutely ridiculous. Aside from the fact that body armor probably wasn't even in use at that time in Germany, a state-of-the-art bronze cuirass probably didn't weigh more than 10 pounds. I'm one of many many historical reenactors whose "daily training" is lifting donuts to my mouth, and I have no problem running around in several times that weight of armor, a few weekends a year.

But it's great to see a quote from Barry Molloy! HE knows what he's talking about. And there's a lot of other good stuff in there, too, don't get me wrong. The sheer numbers ARE thought-provoking!

Maybe this summer I'll have a chance to make those clubs!

Aug 2011
For those not familiar with this site, a battle dating to the Bronze age has been under excavation in Mecklenburg Vorpommern for several years. Someone writing in the Old European Culture blogspot wrote up a quick summary last year:

Old European culture: Tollense battle

Recently, the site has been written up in Sciencemag :

Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle | Science | AAAS
Thanx. It will be very interesting to see the finals results regarding origins of the persons involved.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
Thanx. It will be very interesting to see the finals results regarding origins of the persons involved.
The state of preservation of the bones is in some cases excellent and funding has already been obtained for a genetic study of them. It should certainly add a lot of new data. You can see the quality of the bones from this rather gruesome photo of the effects of a bronze age arrow on a human skull:

Mar 2016
Apart from locals, also people from Eastern Europe and from Southern Europe took part in the battle.

And also "Scandinavian-like" people took part, but those could be just locals of the area.

Some of them came from hundreds of kilometers away, according to isotopic evidence.