Archeological find

The University of Innsbruck is responsible for the scientific work. The Institute for Medieval and Modern Archeology under Univ. -Prof. Dr. Harald Stadler and his team have been able to collect numerous results for this find, although much is still hidden in the mists of history and some secrets will probably never be fully explained and explored.

The archeological location

The healer was found in the Strader Wald in Tarrenz near a path parallel to Via Claudia Augusta. The burial is considered unusual because it is this far from any settlement or consecrated ground. The main part of the find was discovered about 40 cm deep.

Prof. Stadler stresses that the men Jochen Reheis, Christian Deutschmann and Franz Neuruer who discovered various metal objects and the skull did the right thing by immediately informing the university of their discovery and then leaving the location "untouched".

Archeological find

The dead lay on her stomach with her face down. Her right arm was bent sharply, the left one also, but below the upper body. It is noticeable that the left thigh was missing - otherwise the skeleton is to be regarded as complete.

Regarding the offerings, the archaeologists were able to establish two clusters:

  • Discoveries around the skull: iron scissors, iron brass fitting, two cuppings, a large ceramic bead, more beads of various materials such as rock crystal, jet, glass and non-ferrous metal, and chain pendants, small hook and eye of silver and a large pin made of iron.
  • Finds in the area of ​​the right hip: a possible organic container with a thimble made ​​of nonferrous metal, five iron keys, two silver coins and other objects not yet defined objects.

Various components of a chain (e.g., faience, jet and copper beads) were distributed from the skull to the pelvis.

 

Pathologies and possible cause of death

The nearly 160 cm tall, graceful woman was 30-40 years old and suffered from a periostitis of the left tibia and pathological changes in the spine (osteophytes). In addition, the competent anthropologist Dr. George McGlynn noted that some teeth had caries and several abscesses had infested the jaw.

As causes of death there are eventually several possibilities:

  • blood poisoning (septicemia)
  • plague or typhus
  • suicide

Found belongings (grave goods)

  • Six cuppings made from non-ferrous metal

  • Amulet chain consisting of numerous components

  • Rosary

  • Residual wax (candle?)

  • Iron hinge scissors

  • Fire racket made of iron

  • Thimble

  • Sewing needle including container

  • Ceramic Beads (possibly served as spindle whorls)

  • Metal holder with chain made of iron (cutlery container), knives and sharpening steel

  • Key

  • Bag with coins (two silver coins)

  • Segment belt

  • Hooks and fasteners

 

Other findings are still in evaluation.

Missing belongings / Equipment

  • Shoes

  • Flint and tinder fungus

  • Pan

This was curiously available, but already found in a previous sondage in 2003 and together with left thigh bone (which was mistakenly interpreted as a pan handle) recovered. Unfortunately it is currently gone missing.

 

Possible interpretations

Several fates could explain the healer’s identity:

  • A “Marketenderin“ or sutler from the period of the Thirty Years' War, who travelled from one place to another died during her journey and was quickly buried besides the road.

  •  A gypsy (Fahrende, Jeni, Karrnerin) who was buried as a heathen

  •  A local suicide, who could not be buried in consecrated ground (the prone position was a funeral variant that has been handed down in relation to suicide).

  •  A killing with ritual, superstitious or criminal background.

Because of her equipment this woman is undisputedly to settle in the area of ​​traditional medicine with a magic background. In general the research team reached difficult terrain since the transitions between medicine and magic have always been fluent. There is also the question of whether the people of the 17th century shared our modern perception of magic during a time when witch-hunts and the vampire belief were popular.