His Wine Cellar Was a Mammoth Graveyard

Austrian archaeologists call it the 'find of the century'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2024 6:25 PM CDT
Man Renovating Wine Cellar Finds Mammoth Bones
Mammoths roamed what is now Austria until around 20,000 years ago.   (Getty Images/Daniel Eskridge)

An Austrian man renovating his wine cellar found something a lot older than any riesling. Winemaker Andreas Pernerstorfer discovered enormous bones that came from at least three woolly mammoths, the BBC reports. He reported the find to authorities, and the cellar was excavated by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, which called the find an "archaeological sensation." Researchers say the remains are 30,000 to 40,000 years old. Pernerstorfer lives in a village in Krems district, around 45 miles from Vienna. The cellar is 55 feet below the ground.

Pernerstorfer told the Austrian Broadcasting Corp. that he initially thought he had found a piece of wood left by his grandfather, but after some digging, he remembered that his grandfather had spoken of finding teeth in the cellar. The municipality of Langenlois described the discovery as the "find of the century" and praised Pernerstorfer for his "exemplary reaction." There hasn't been a find of this kind in Austria since around 150 years ago, when stone artifacts and bones from around a dozen mammoths were found in a neighboring wine cellar.

"Now we can examine something like this in Austria for the first time using modern means," excavation manager Hannah Parow-Souchon tells Der Standard. "We are currently working intensively on this question," she says. Parow-Souchon says researchers aim to determine how so many mammoths of different ages ended up dead in the same spot. "Based on the stone artifacts found in the neighboring cellar and the charcoal that we also found, it is quite possible that humans had a hand in it," she says. (More woolly mammoth stories.)

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