Virus probably killed prince from Matejovce 1,600 years ago

The tomb of the Germanic prince is an archaeological wonder from Poprad.

(Source: TASR)

The Germanic prince whose tomb from the 4th century was discovered in Matejovce, Poprad, 14 years ago, probably died from Hepatitis B type, resulting from the research of Slovak archaeologists and Danish scientists.

Proving the presence of a virus from 1,600 years ago is a unique achievement, according to Karol Pieta, deputy chair of the Archaeological Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences in Nitra.

“This discovery happened to be a scientific sensation last year and it is also proof of how science and the possibilities analyzing the deceased have developed,” he said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

20 years

The wooden tomb at a depth of 5 metres was found during the construction of an industrial park in Poprad in 2005. The underground log house with a ground plan of 4 and 2.7 metres constructed from red spruce beams contained a wooden sarcophagus with the body of the Germanic prince. Thanks to a microclimate, the wood, leather and textile and other organic materials were preserved.

Read also:Tomb of Germanic prince might return to the Tatras in 2020 Read more 

“Because the tomb was preserved at a sufficient quality and the lab research has been conducted at the highest European scientific level, there are still new discoveries,” Pieta said, as quoted by SITA.

Scientists succeeded in proving that the prince was born near Tatras, grew up in Spiš and lived about 20 years.

“He spent a significant part of his short life in the Mediterranean region,” Pieta said, as quoted by SITA. “We know it thanks to isotope analysis that revealed his eating habits and those are Mediterranean. It is possible that he was part of an imperial Roman court or served in the Roman army as a prominent officer,” he added, as quoted by SITA.

Raided tomb

The prince probably belonged among Barbarian Germanic tribe that lived in northern and eastern Slovakia at the end of the 4th century. His funeral was probably around the year 380.

The tomb was full of furniture, gifts and other daily items, but the majority of the gold and silver objects were taken by tomb raiders a few years after the death of the prince.

Read also:Ancient board game from Poprad is only one of two in the world Read more 

Yet a gold charm made from the coin of the Roman emperor Valens from 375 was found in the tomb. The furnishings included a table, a stool and bed covered by silver sheets. There were also toiletries, such as silver scissors, tweezers and spoons for ear-cleaning. A board game with glass stones is also unique in Europe.

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