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2-min read

Researchers Solve 33,000-Years-Old Murder Mystery in Transylvania, Spoiler Alert: it Wasn't Dracula

According to an international team of scientists, the 'victim', Cioclovina calvaria, was violently clubbed to death some 33,000 years ago, by a left-handed attacker wielding a club or a similar object.

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Updated:July 9, 2019, 3:20 PM IST
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Researchers Solve 33,000-Years-Old Murder Mystery in Transylvania, Spoiler Alert: it Wasn't Dracula
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Researchers have finally concluded how one of the earliest fossilized human remains met with his grizzly end. According to an international team of scientists, the man was violently clubbed to death some 33,000 years ago, by a left-handed attacker wielding a club or a similar object.

The Cioclovina calvaria, discovered in a cave in South Transylvania in 1941, during a mining operation, has been studied extensively by scientists trying to understand more about the Upper Paleolithic period, which also marks the dispersal of modern humans in Europe.

The results of the study were published in the peer review journal PLOS One.

Speaking about the study to Live Science, co-author Katerina Harvati of Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen in Germany said, "The Cioclovina individual is particularly important, as it is one of the earliest and relatively complete skulls of modern Europeans from the Upper Paleolithic period," adding, "Human remains from this period are very rare and often very fragmentary."

During the course of the study, researchers determined that the skull belonged to a man, with it already been determined that the man had two other small healed scars on the frontal bone from some kind of trauma prior to death.

The query, however, remained on the large fracture on the right parietal lobe, with scholars disagreeing, till now, whether this was evidence for blunt-force trauma and possibly the man's cause of death (a perimortem injury).

Eventually, Havarti partnered with Elena Kranioti of the University of Crete and Dan Grigorescu of the University of Bucharest—to conduct a more thorough forensic analysis, following which they felt that the trauma injury occurred antemortem, at least five to seven days before death.

During the course of the study, CT scans revealed at least two fractures with no signs of remodeling, showing the telltale signs of perimortem injury. One was a linear fracture along the base of the skull, and the second was the depressed fracture previously observed. According to the authors, both fractures show telltale signs of perimortem injury.

Harvati added, "Our results clearly showed that the fracture patterns observed on this skull could not have been produced after death, or from an accidental fall," adding, "Instead, they closely matched with the expected patterns for blunt force trauma (i.e., trauma inflicted with a blunt instrument, such as a club, for example) to the head. The extent of the injuries that he sustained would have led to death. As to how or why this came about, we can only speculate."

According to researchers, the study also indicates that violence was very much a part of that particular period in human history

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