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Archaeologists in Denmark have uncovered a mysterious ancient structure believed to be some sort of Stone Age labyrinth. The structure was discovered in the municipality of Stevns on the east coast of Denmark when ground was broken for a nearby sports complex. The construction of that complex has slowed excavations and might jeopardize future recovery of the site. Archaeologists have yet to find a reason why such a defensive structure might have existed at this location.

The rows of the labyrinth are shown in green. Excavated areas are orange/outlined in red.

Despite those difficulties, researchers have so far discovered flint flakes and shards of axes surrounding the site, implying that battles could have once been fought within the labyrinth. Those artifacts have been dated to around 5,000 years ago, likely putting the construction of the labyrinth in the Neolithic period, or New Stone Age.

Flint weapon shards found at the site.

The structure appears to have been made up of five rows of posts and covers an area of roughly 60,000 square feet (5575 square meters). Within the rows are several openings which are offset from one another. Researchers believe this might imply a type of defensive labyrinth designed to slow and confuse intruders; just what exactly it might have once guarded remains a mystery, however.

The post holes where the labyrinth once stood.

According to archaeologist Pernille Rohde Sloth who is leading the excavation, the true purpose of the labyrinth remains unknown:

It was actually somewhat overwhelming to experience that it is possible to reveal the traces of such a huge building from the Neolithic period. There are many suggestions for what they could’ve been used for, but to put it simply, we just don’t know.

Similar labyrinths in Europe are usually accompanied by artifacts which imply the presence of temples – burnt animal bones, tools, and sunstones – but this new labyrinth is devoid of such artifacts. So far, the leading theories are that this could have been the site of ancient rituals, or, more uneventfully, as a livestock enclosure. I’m still going with ancient battle labyrinth.