SCIENCE

'Charlemagne's Bones' Are Likely Authentic, Scientists Say (PHOTOS)

02/06/2014 02:53 pm ET

Dem bones, dem bones, dem Charlemagne's bones?

After 1,200 years, researchers have confirmed that a collection of bones, long interred in Germany, are those of eighth-century ruler Charlemagne.

Also known as Charles I or Charles the Great, Charlemagne controlled a wide swath of Western Europe between 768 and 814 A.D. Remembered for his efforts to unify Germanic peoples and convert them to Christianity, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800 and is sometimes referred to as the father of Europe.

Due to his holy status, Charlemagne's bones do not all rest in one place. Instead, they were scattered to various reliquaries and shrines.

The researchers have identified the ruler's skull, kept in a gold bust at the Aachen Cathedral in Germany, and his arm and leg bones, contained in an elaborate sarcophagus, Discovery News reported.

(Story continues below photo.) charlemagne

Dr. Frank Rühli and several colleagues examine a leg bone believed to have belonged to Charlemagne.

The finding is the result of a 26-year effort to match the cathedral bones to historical records describing Charlemagne at the time of his death.

"There is always doubt about this kind of bones, still I am quite sure (but not 100 percent) that they may belong to him," researcher Dr. Frank Rühli, of the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, told LiveScience.

Using X-rays and CT scans, researchers also confirmed that Charlemagne stood about 6 feet tall and was quite thin, Discovery News reported.

"He must have towered over 98 out of a 100 persons in his time," Rühli told Discovery.

charlemagne

Part of a skull believed to have been Charlemagne's is kept in a gold bust of the ruler.

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