Gold Laden Hun Warrior Tomb Uncovered by Romanian Highway Project
Amidst the buzz of a highway construction project in Romania, a team of workers accidentally stumbled upon a historic trove of buried treasure and a Hun warrior tomb. The archaeological site revealed a magnificent burial, brimming with grave goods, and the fully intact remains of an elite warrior prince dating back to the 5th century AD. Buried alongside his beloved steed, this discovery paints a vivid picture of how accomplished the man must have been as a rider and military leader.
It appears that the 5th-century warrior prince was a proud member of the nomadic and fearsome Huns. These conquerors, known for their military prowess, swept across Europe in the 4th and 5th centuries leaving a trail of terror and destruction in their wake. Our newfound Hun warrior may have even rubbed elbows with the legendary Attila the Hun, one of the most renowned conquerors of all time.
The entire skeleton of the warrior and the head and leg bones of his horse were found in the tomb. The man appears to be buried wearing a gold mask. (CNAIR / Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology)
Excavating the Life of an Honored Hun Warrior
This thrilling Hun warrior discovery was made during construction of the Ploiești-Buzău section of the A7 Highway or Moldavia Motorway, a massive infrastructure project that will connect the city of Ploiești in southeastern Romania with the town of Siret in the northeastern part of the country on the Ukrainian border. The exact location of the tomb was near the village of Mizil, which is approximately 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the Black Sea.
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Before the road construction project began, four separate archaeological sites were discovered in this area during the feasibility study phase. After building actually began, another four sites were found, and it was at one of the latter locations that the Hun warrior’s tomb was excavated late in 2022.
When the highway construction company CNAIR reported the new discoveries, archaeologists from the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archeology in Bucharest rushed to the site to begin excavating. Working around the ongoing construction schedule, they unearthed the elaborate Hun warrior tomb that contained the skeletal remains of man and horse along with the 1,500-year-old treasure.
The Hun warrior tomb contained an ornate sword and dagger, both decorated with gold leaf. (CNAIR / Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology)
Artifacts Unearthed from Romanian Hun Warrior Tomb
The incredible collection of burial goods inside the princely tomb included more than 100 artifacts in all. There were various weapons entombed with the Hun warrior, as well as gold jewelry and many other gold-covered objects.
“This tomb is of major importance because, in addition to the rich inventory, it was discovered at a site along with 900 other archaeological features — [such as] pits, dwellings, and tombs,” Vasile Pârvan Institute archaeologist and excavation leader Silviu Ene told Live Science, referring to the impressive set of archaeological sites that have been identified so far in conjunction with the highway project.
At this stage no DNA has been extracted from the skeleton, so it is impossible to identify the man’s ethnicity with 100 percent certainty. However, the priceless nature of the grave goods suggests he must have belonged to the region’s ruling class at a time when the Huns occupied the area and maintained total political control. The archaeologists have therefore identified the warrior as a Hun prince and will study his remains and burial goods operating under that educated assumption.
During what is known in Romania as the Migration Era, the Huns invaded eastern Europe and occupied much of it, displacing peoples like the Goths and Vandals who were forced to move west. The Huns built their initial empire in Central Asia, but they were mobile conquerors and fearless warriors who were able to subdue their neighbors to the east and expand their empire dramatically in the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
In Romania the Huns drove out the Goths in 376. They maintained their control over these lands until their power collapsed in 454, when they were defeated by the resurgent Goths and their Germanic allies at the Battle of Nedao in Croatia.
The dagger unearthed in the Hun warrior grave was decorated with semi-precious stones. (CNAIR / Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology)
An Astonishing Golden Hun Treasure Where a Road Will Soon Run
The items found in the Hun warrior’s tomb reveal much about his status as an elite fighter. The weapons buried with him included an iron sword with a gilded scabbard and a dagger with a gold-covered hilt inlaid with different types of gemstones. Bundles of iron arrowheads were also found, alongside decorated braces of bone that would have once been part of a wooden bow.
During the excavation of the tomb, the Vasile Pârvan Institute archaeologists also unearthed a gilded saddle, a cauldron made from bronze, various pieces of gold jewelry, and decorated wall-mounted candle fittings.
The warrior’s skeleton was intact and in good shape. The remains of a gold mask that was apparently placed on his face at the time of the burial were found beside him crumbled but still identifiable. His horse was buried there, too, although so far only the horse’s head and one leg have been dug out of the ground.
Was the Hun Warrior a Contemporary of Attila the Hun?
It was the style of the weapons and jewelry that link them to the 5th century AD, and specifically to the first half of the century when most of Europe north of the Danube River was held by the terrifying and ruthless Huns.
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The warrior prince might very well have been a contemporary of Attila, who led the Hunnic Empire from 434 until his death in 453. But even if they lived at the same time they might not have known each other personally, since Attila was busy farther to the west attacking the Roman Empire while the warrior prince was serving in Romania.
As of now, the archaeologists are only about half finished with their excavations at the site where the 5th century Hun warrior tomb was located. Unfortunately, Romania’s fierce winter weather has slowed things down. The the archaeologists have also been forced to do a lot of their work at night so as not to interfere with the continuing highway project.
The actual site of the tomb will eventually be covered over completely by the roadway. The Vasile Pârvan Institute archaeologists then plan to remove all the bones and artifacts from the site first, after which the treasure trove of discoveries from the Hun warrior tomb will be put on public display.
Top image: Workers excavating the Hun warrior tomb which was discovered at one of several archaeological sites unearthed during the construction of a highway in Romania. Source: CNAIR / Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology
By Nathan Falde