German archaeologists uncovered a complex ancient burial site, including a chariot tomb, while excavating an industrial park where construction of a new facility for Intel, the American chip maker, is set to begin.

The site is near Magdeburg, about 100 miles west of Berlin, and plans to build two semiconductor factories on the site are expected to begin later this year. Since 2023, archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology of Saxony-Anhalt have been investigating the area in the municipality of Eulenberg and discovered before construction began that there were actually burial mounds on a small hill in the industrial area from the time up to the Neolithic period.

Below the mound were two “monumental mounds” that covered wooden burial chambers with several burials inside, the state monument office said in a statement Press release released Friday. The burial sites are believed to be around 6,000 years old and contained remnants of ancient rituals, such as a chariot grave in which cattle were sacrificed and buried with a human body in a specific formation, around a cart with a coachman or one of the animals to imitate a pulled plow.

Archaeologists excavate the burial site of a man and two cattle.

Oliver Dietrich / State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology Saxony-Anhalt

The office called these new findings “spectacular” and said they suggest that “the landscape apparently remained important to prehistoric people over a long period of time.”

Archaeologists have traced one of the two burial mounds to the Baalberg Group, an ancient Neolithic culture that lived in central Germany between around 4100 and 3600 BC. BC existed. Two large, trapezoidal wooden burial chambers were built inside the mound, with a corridor running between them. Experts suggest that it was used as a processional route by settlers in the next millennium.

Along the procession route, archaeologists found the remains of pairs of young cattle that were sacrificed and buried. In one case, a grave was dug in front of the cattle graves for a man between the ages of 35 and 40 to create the image of the “chariot.” Ritual graves of this type “symbolize that the most important possession, the security of one’s livelihood, was offered to the gods with the livestock,” says the monument office’s press release.

Archaeologists are excavating cattle graves that are about 5,000 years old.

Oliver Dietrich / State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology Saxony-Anhalt

Archaeologists also discovered a ditch along the procession route and other burial mounds in the area that are around 4,000 years old.

“The continuity in the ritual use of this part of the Eulenberg is astonishing and the subsequent analysis of the finds promises further interesting findings,” said the monument office.

The excavations at Eulenberg and in the surrounding industrial area are scheduled to last until April.

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