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‘Stone Age mammoth bones’ found in wine cellar

A winemaker in Austria has made an extremely rare find after cellar renovations uncovered the remains of mammoths up to 40,000 years old.

Experts described the discovery of Stone Age mammoth bones in an Austrian wine cellar as ‘an archaeological sensation’.

Winemaker Andreas Pernerstorfer was renovating his wine cellar in Gobelsburg, in the Krems district, when he came across the mammoth bones.

He reported his discovery to the Federal Monuments Office and archaeologists have now uncovered several layers of bones during excavation work, according to the Austrian Archaeological Institute (OeAI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW).

It said the last comparable discovery in Austria was 150 years ago, also in the Krems district.

mammoth bones wine cellar

Archaeologists Thomas Einwögerer and Hannah Parow-Souchon preparing the bones for recovery. Photo credit: Yannik Merkl.

Stone artefacts and charcoal at the wine cellar site suggest the mammoth bones are between 30,000 and 40,000 years old, according to archaeologists Thomas Einwögerer and Hannah Parow-Souchon, of OeAI.

‘Such a dense bone layer of mammoths is rare,’ said Parow-Souchon, who is leading the excavation work. ‘It’s the first time we’ve been able to investigate something like this in Austria using modern methods.’

So far, bones from three different mammoths have been found in the wine cellar.

mammoth bones wine cellar

“Mikado with ribs”, by OeAI archaeologist Marc Händel when uncovering the bones. Photo credit: OeAW-OeAI / Hannah Parow-Souchon.

It isn’t known how the animals died. Archaeologists speculated that humans may have chased the mammoths and set a trap for them on the spot where the wine cellar lies today.

‘We know that humans hunted mammoths, but we still know very little about how they did it,’ said Parow-Souchon, a researcher with OeAW. 

After being examined by researchers, the bones will be sent to the Natural History Museum in Vienna for restoration work.

Excavation work in the wine cellar was funded by the Federal Monuments Office and the province of Lower Austria.

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