Archaeologists unearth 5,000-year-old footprints

The discovery was made during the excavation of the Femern Bælt tunnel

Archaeologists working on the excavations for the Femern Bælt Tunnel have discovered several well-preserved footprints dating back to the Stone Age.

The prints were left by fishermen looking to safeguard their weirs (river barriers used for fishing) in a storm 5,000 years ago, announced Lolland-Falster Museum.

"It is quite surreal to have found human footprints," said archaeologist Terje Stafseth in a press release.

"We normally find historical clues in the form of human waste, but here we have found an entirely different clue and a first in Danish archaeology: a physical print left behind by a human."

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Prints belonged to fishermen
The footprints were found alongside a metre-long system of fishing weirs used to feed a nearby Stone Age community.

The discovery of the prints' close proximity to the weirs, suggest the fishermen attempted to safeguard their constructions before a flood came in and covered it all with sand.

Judging by the size of the prints, at least two people waded out into the silted seabed in an attempt to salvage what they could. With every step, the sand left behind by the flooding got pushed further into the bed to leave behind the tell-tale prints.

The surviving weirs were subsequently set up further away. 

"Our investigations have shown that these Stone Age inhabitants repeatedly repaired and moved the system of weirs to improve their overall efficiency," continued Terje Stafseth

"We can follow the footprints, sense the importance of these weirs and know they would have been an important source of nutrition for the coastal community."

Lolland-Falster Museum are hopeful the prints will shed further light on the past in the days to come.