London, April 2 (IANS) Excavators in the town of Tulln, Lower Austria, have stumbled upon a very extraordinary thing -- a complete skeleton of a camel.
A camel was an "alien" animal for the people in Tulln and they did not possibly know how to feed it, or eat it!
"The animal was certainly exotic for the people of Tulln. They probably didn't know what to feed it or whether one could eat it. Perhaps it died a natural death and was then buried without being used," said archaeo-zoologist Alfred Galik from University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
In addition to horses, the Ottoman army also used camels for transportation and as riding animals. In cases of scarcity, the soldiers also ate the animal's flesh.
But 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," Galik explained.
Extensive DNA analysis showed that the animal was a hybrid: Its mother was a dromedary and its father a Bactrian camel. The camel was male, around seven years old and most likely castrated.
Besides animal bones, the excavations also unearthed ceramic plates and other items. A coin from the time of Louis XIV dates the find to the years between 1643 and 1715.
A medicinal bottle containing Theriacum, a medieval remedy from the chemist's shop "Apotheke zur Goldenen Krone" in Vienna, was also found at the site.
This pharmacy existed between 1628 and 1665, which helped date the site with further precision.