• Germany's news in English
 
Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real
Most of the bones were found in Charlemagne's gilded sarcophagus in Aachen Cathedral. Photo: DPA

Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real

Published: 31 Jan 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00

Researchers confirmed on Wednesday evening - 1,200 years to the day since Charlemagne died - that the 94 bones and bone fragments taken from the supposed resting place of the King of the Franks and founder of what was to become the Holy Roman Empire came from a tall, thin, older man.

The team first opened the sarcophagus of the first emperor in western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire in secret in 1988 and presented their results for the first time on Wednesday.

One of the scientists studying the remains, Professor Frank Rühli, said: "Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne."

From studying the dimensions of the upper arm, thigh and shin bones, scientists have built up a picture of the man behind the skeleton, and it matches descriptions of Charlemagne.

At 1.84 metres (six feet), he was unusually tall for his time. The team also estimated his weight at around 78 kilograms, giving him a slim body mass index of around 23.

Previous estimates had placed his height at between 1.79 metres and 1.92 metres.

And an account from medieval Frankish biographer Einhard the Frank claiming Charlemagne walked with a limp in old age could well be accurate, as both kneecap and heel bones had deposits consistent with an injury.

No new evidence was found to corroborate accounts that he died of pneumonia as researchers discovered no strong clues as to Charlemagne's health at the time of death.

The greater part of the skeleton was found in the king's elaborate tomb, while parts of the skull were found in a bust of the emperor. One of the shin bones was discovered in Charlemagne's reliquary - a ceremonial container for remains.

While most of the bones are accounted for, it is believed some of those missing were given away as relics at the time of the emperor's death.

READ MORE: Building beings of replica medieval town

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany falls behind neighbours in hourly pay
Photo: DPA

Germany falls behind neighbours in hourly pay

The average hourly private sector pay in Germany increased slightly between 2013 and 2014, but the rate still lagged behind that in most of Germany’s neighbour states, according to data released on Monday. READ  

Germany braces for longest-ever rail strike
Photo: DPA

Germany braces for longest-ever rail strike

German train drivers found themselves under fire from industry and the government on Monday after announcing their longest walkout in the history of rail operator Deutsche Bahn. READ  

€15m of cocaine found in Aldi banana boxes
A stash of cocaine found in an Aldi banana box last year. Police discovered more hidden narcotics in banana boxes on Monday. Photo: DPA.

€15m of cocaine found in Aldi banana boxes

More than 300 kilograms of cocaine worth €15 million were discovered in Berlin-area Aldi supermarkets, hidden in cases of bananas, police reported on Monday. READ  

Pressure on Merkel rises over BND affair
German foreign intelligence agency BND. Photo: DPA

Pressure on Merkel rises over BND affair

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the German intelligence agency on Monday amid criticism from within her own government, urging her to come clean about her knowledge of Germany's role in spying on European neighbours. READ  

Institute to end 'monkey torture' programme
Demonstrators against the Max Planck Institute. Photo: DPA

Institute to end 'monkey torture' programme

After graphic pictures emerged of distressed and unconscious monkeys bleeding from the head at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, the world-renowned research centre announced on Sunday that it will close its primate research programme. READ  

A third of parents OK with smacking children

A third of parents OK with smacking children

About one third of German parents think an 'Ohrfeige', or smack across the head, is an appropriate part of child-rearing, according to an RTL survey released on Sunday. READ  

New case of Ebola suspected in Germany
A man suspected of having Ebola has been brought to the Uni Klinik in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA.

New case of Ebola suspected in Germany

A man in Bochum was taken to hospital on Sunday evening under tight security controls after it was suspected that he was infected with the Ebola virus. READ  

Putin's biker gang cross border into Germany
The Night Wolves have reached Germany. Photo: DPA

Putin's biker gang cross border into Germany

Ten pro-Kremlin Russian bikers, part of a larger group on a controversial World War II victory ride through Europe, reached the German border late Sunday, the Bavarian authorities said. READ  

Merkel joins Holocaust survivors to mark Dachau liberation
Merkel laying a wreath at Dachau. Photo: DPA

Merkel joins Holocaust survivors to mark Dachau liberation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined survivors of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau on Sunday for a solemn ceremony to mark 70 years since it was liberated by US forces. READ  

Snowden among statues unveiled in Berlin
Italian artist Davide Dormino with the statues. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Snowden among statues unveiled in Berlin

Statues of whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning were unveiled in central Berlin on Friday by activists and members of Germany’s Green party. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
Pupils mourn lost classmates
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,156
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>