• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real

DPA/The Local · 31 Jan 2014, 08:04

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 news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's on in Germany: July 2016
Berlin Pride celebrations. Photo: DPA

Beer, beach and the BMX - here's what's coming up in Germany this month.

Brexit vote
'Over 100,000 Brits' flood Berlin job site after Brexit vote
"Searching for job." Photo: DPA.

A German job-hunting website reported getting four times the amount of traffic from the UK that it normally does in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Man who stabbed Cologne mayor gets 14 years jail
Photo: DPA

The man who almost killed Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker when he stabbed her in the neck was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Friday.

Germany ups Turkey travel advisory after Istanbul attack
Berliners at the Brandenburg Gate mourn the victims of the Istanburl airport attack. Photo: DPA.

Germany on Friday warned its citizens to exercise particular caution if they travel to Turkey, following this week's deadly Istanbul airport attack.

Young Muslim takes on state on headscarf ban and wins
Aqilah Sandhu in court on Thursday. Photo: DPA

A 25-year-old lawyer has taken on the state of Bavaria over its attempts to stop her from wearing a headscarf - and scored a major victory.

Video
WATCH: Comic teaches about Ramadan on flying carpet
Photo: Screenshot from Dattelträger video.

A young comedian hopes his flying carpet stunt can help fight back against stereotypes - by becoming one.

Brexit vote
'It won't be romantic. But I need an EU passport'
Lucy Thomas (left), director at Give Something Back to Berlin. Photo: Private

British expats in Berlin tell The Local that a week after the Brexit vote they are still stunned - and are considering their next steps.

Town ravaged by floods tries to pick up the pieces
Rebuilding in Simbach. Photo: DPA

July 2nd should have been the start of a new life for Anna Kluchan and her husband. But then the floods came.

Lufthansa finally buries hatchet with cabin staff
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa and its cabin staff said Thursday they had reached an agreement on working conditions, bringing to an end a long and bitter industrial dispute that hit thousands of passengers.

Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: DPA.

Uncertainty has kicked in over Brexit and what it may mean for Brits living in Germany.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
7,879
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd