Mystery Bronze Age 'Grave Circles' Containing Cremated Human Remains Discovered

Archaeologists have uncovered two ancient grave circles beneath the playing field of a soccer team in Belgium.

The researchers who found the graves estimate that they could be more than 2,000 years old, dating back to the European Bronze Age, The Brussels Times reported.

The circles contain cremated human bones, and they are the resting place of individuals who were buried in ceremonial rituals, the researchers said.

Researchers discovered the circles below the field of KVV Schelde soccer club, which is based in East Flanders—a province in the north of Belgium.

The larger of the two measures around 180 feet in diameter, making it the largest of its kind ever found in the Flemish—or Dutch speaking—region of Belgium.

According to the researchers, ancient peoples who lived in this area during the Bronze Age often cremated their dead before burying them, to prevent the bodies from attracting wild animals.

"They may not look spectacular, but they point to an ages-old civilization," Clara Thys, one of the archaeologists involved in the discovery, told The Brussels Times. "They also teach us a lot about burial rituals of the time. In those days, the dead were cremated. We have found urns, ashes and burned bones."

Once the scientists have mapped the site, it will return under the football ground, perhaps for another 3,000 years

— The Brussels Times (@BrusselsTimes) February 21, 2020

The researchers were able to date the finds because they contained evidence which matched up with other sites in the region whose ages are known.

Despite the discovery, the local soccer club will soon resume playing on the field again, and the grave circles will be buried once more. Before this happens, the archaeologists are trying to learn as much about them as possible.

"Everything is being measured and kept clear. People will later be able to read about what used to stand here," Thys said.

archaeological dig
Stock photo: An archaeologist carrying out excavation work. iStock

The last few weeks have seen researchers announce several intriguing archaeological discoveries associated with various types of human burial.

For example, a team led by former Egyptian minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty recently told Nature that they had uncovered possible evidence of hidden chambers behind the walls of Tutankhamun's famous tomb in Egypt.

Some Egyptologists have argued in the past that hidden chambers like these in the vicinity of King Tut's tomb could conceal the final resting place of the mysterious Queen Nefertiti.

Earlier this week, researchers announced the discovery of new Neanderthal remains at a famous archaeological site in Iraqi Kurdistan. The team argue that the find lends support to the idea that our Neanderthal ancestors intentionally buried their dead.