A moment of terror and violence, seemingly frozen in time, was unearthed recently by researchers in Sweden who believe they stumbled on a 1,600-year-old murder mystery.
Researchers from the Sweden's Kalmar County Museum, in collaboration with Lund University, have found the remains of what may be have been a massacre at the site of the Sandby fort on the island of Öland. A total of 10 bodies were found at the site, and that number may rise as archaeologists continue to uncover portions of the area, which is believed to have been home to many more people.
The fort's occupants appear to have been ambushed by unknown attackers, slaughtered and left unburied where they fell, project manager Dr. Helena Victor said in a statement released by the university.
“There are so many bodies, it must have been a very violent and well organized raid," Lund University PhD student Helene Wilhelmson said in a statement.
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One of the skeletons identified by researchers working at the Sandby fort site off the Swedish coast.
The bodies have been dated to the Scandinavian Migration Period, between about 400 and 550 A.D. Interestingly, they were found among valuable but unmolested jewelry caches, which suggests the victims knew their attackers, per the museum.
Jewelry was the first discovery researchers made when the site was initially investigated in 2010, according to LiveScience. As archeologists kept digging in the area of the ancient fort, they discovered the remains of a house -- and the bones of two human feet sticking out of its doorway.
The fact that the bodies were not buried or cremated, customary for the burials of the era, contributes to the site's eerie feeling and reminded researchers of another ancient tragedy: Pompeii, an Italian city simultaneously destroyed and preserved by a massive volcanic eruption in 79 A.D.
"It's more of a frozen moment than you normally see in archaeology," Wilhelmson said of the Sandby discovery, in a video interview posted by Lund University. "It's like Pompeii. Something terrible happened, and everything just stopped."
Researchers work to uncover exactly what happened at the eerie Sandby fort site that resulted in dead bodies being abandoned throughout the fort.