Archaeologists uncovered a complete camel skeleton in a large refuse pit in Tulln, Lower Austria, dating back to the time of the Second Ottoman War in the 17th century, according to a study published April 1, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alfred Galik from University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria, and colleagues.
Camel bones have been found in Europe dating back to the Roman period, but a complete camel skeleton is a unique find in Central Europe. The authors of this study performed extensive morphological and DNA analysis and showed that the camel was male and a hybrid: its mother was a dromedary, and its father a Bactrian camel. "Such crossbreeding was not unusual at the time. Hybrids were easier to handle, more enduring, and larger than their parents. These animals were especially suited for military use," Alfred Galik explains.
The Ottoman army used horses as well as camels for transportation and as riding animals. In cases of scarcity, the soldiers also ate the animal's flesh; however, the skeleton found in Tulln was complete. "This means that the animal was not killed and then butchered. It may have been acquired as part of an exchange," says first author Galik.
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Citation: Galik A, Mohandesan E, Forstenpointner G, Scholz UM, Ruiz E, Krenn M, et al. (2015) A Sunken Ship of the Desert at the River Danube in Tulln, Austria. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121235. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121235
Funding: EM and RF were supported by the Austrian Science Foundation FWF project (P24706-B25) to P. Burger, who is recipient of an APART fellowship (11506) from the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.