Scientists Have Likely Found Charlemagne's Skeleton

Researchers have been studying bones for 26 years
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2014 12:13 PM CST

(Newser) – After 26 years of research, scientists finally announced last week that the bones interred at Charlemagne's supposed resting place at Aachen Cathedral probably do belong to the emperor, The Local reports. The German researchers say the 94 bones and bone fragments are from a tall, thin, older man, and their dimensions match descriptions of Charlemagne, who was unusually tall for the period at 6 feet, but also thin. (PhysOrg notes another oddity: His father, Pepin the Short, measured only about five feet.) The researchers also found evidence of injury to the kneecap and heel bones, which is consistent with claims that Charlemagne walked with a limp in his later years.

Researchers first secretly opened what was said to be the emperor's sarcophagus in 1988; he died in 814. Most of the bones were found in his tomb, with some found in a bust depicting him and one found in a ceremonial container used to hold remains. As for the rest of his bones, they were likely given away as relics. "Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne," says one of the scientists. What they didn't determine: any new details about his health or cause of death. (On the same theme, archaeologists may have found a bone belonging to Alfred the Great in an unusual place.)

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