During the construction of a highway near the city of Mizil, in southeastern Romania (about 220 kilometers from the black Sea), a discovery described as exceptional by Romanian specialists was made: four archaeological sites have been identified, announced the Romanian National Society for the Administration of Road Infrastructures (CNAIR) in a video posted on facebook December 20, 2022. However, the first research revealed on one of them the remains of a “princely” tomb, perhaps of a Hun warrior. The burial has indeed been dated to the 5th century AD. BC, when the region was controlled by this semi-nomadic people. Many treasures were also hidden there, nearly a hundred artifacts including weapons, gold-covered objects and jewels encrusted with precious stones, testifying to the distant status of the deceased.
A Hun warrior from the “age of migration”?
The excavation, conducted by the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archeology in Bucharest, took place in particularly difficult conditions, as the finds were unearthed in rainy weather. In order to ensure their preservation – and that the highway project could move forward – their excavation had to be completed late at night, by the light of flashlights. The archaeological investigation is now “half finished”estimates the chief archaeologist Silviu Ene, questioned by LiveScience. Over the next few months, the bones and artifacts will be cleaned, examined and restored by experts before being put on public display, while the sites themselves will be covered in concrete. And the first finds are already proving surprising, in particular this tomb with a varied inventory, with meticulously designed and decorated weapons, sometimes encrusted with precious stones.
“Golden swords, daggers, quivers, clothes pegs, bronze cauldron and arrowheads…”, lists Silviu Ene in the video on the social network. A horse’s skull and bones, as well as some kind of ties and a golden saddle, were also removed from the burial. Everything finally suggests that the remains found were those of a warrior, whose ethnicity is still unknown – and whose face was probably covered with a gold mask, also detected during the search. But the rich grave goods, dated to the 5th century, suggest he may have belonged to the ruling class of the region’s Hunnic period (or “age of migration”). According to written sources of the time, most of Europe north of the Danube was indeed occupied by the Huns. The Vandals and Goths, among others, had thus migrated west.
900 archaeological elements to analyze
These controlled territories encompassed much of the western Black Sea lands—where present-day Romania is located—formerly under the aegis of theRoman Empire. Coming from Central Asia, the Hun horsemen were a particularly big thorn in the side of the Romans, going so far as to invade the most western Roman province, the Gaul, and even attack Rome under their leader Attila the Hun, before losing ground. Questioned by the Hungarian agency Magyar Tavirati Iroda (MTI), taken over by the Hungary Post Françaisthe archaeologists specify however that additional investigations will be necessary to establish a more precise age: “[…] we can assume [que le guerrier] lived under Hun rule. We don’t think his ethnic classification would be possible without performing tests such as strontium isotopes or archaeogenetics.”
Through further investigation, they hope to discover more about the person buried there more than a millennium ago, about his funeral ceremony and indirectly, about the history of the region. His burial was also only part of a more complex area revealed near Mizil, as indicated by Silviu Ene, still at LiveScience: “This tomb is of major importance because, in addition to the rich inventory, it was discovered on a site with 900 other archaeological elements — [tels que] pits, dwellings and tombs”. What else will archaeologists find?