The past is filled with all sorts of terrifying and bizarre occurrences. Some of these events make their way into the history books, but many of them are lost to time. Every now and again, though, archaeologists unearth something that reminds us of history’s darker times.

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A research team in China was thrilled to excavate the ruins of an ancient settlement in Inner Mongolia, knowing they would likely uncover some interesting artifacts. They found pottery and tools, just as they expected, but they uncovered something much more sinister, too…

Recently, a team from China’s Jilin University and the Inner Mongolian Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics started excavating a site near the Mongolian town of Shebotu.

The team worked to unearth an ancient village that they believed was around 5,000 years old. As they excavated, they began to suspect that the site was much more significant than they had originally thought.

The location was called Hamin Mangha and they wrote that it was the “largest and best-preserved prehistoric settlement site found to date in northeast China.” The researchers hoped it would offer unprecedented insights into the prehistoric people who had lived there.

They soon determined that they were uncovering the central village of a much larger settlement. At its peak, it may have covered as much as 1 million square miles, and included desert, forest, and lake regions.

After their initial discoveries, the scientists limited their investigation to an area of around 30,000 square feet, which was still the largest excavation of an ancient settlement ever attempted in this region of China…

Quickly, the archaeologists began to piece together a picture of life in the village. They found the foundations of 43 separate dwellings, a number of burial sites, and numerous artifacts like fragments of pottery, tools, and weapons.

The settlement was thought to be so old that it predated the use of the written word, but its inhabitants had fairly sophisticated methods of farming and hunting, and they lived in stable communities like the one at Hamin Mangha.

The dwellings the archaeologists came across varied greatly in size. The smallest were about 75 square feet and consisted of a single room with a fireplace for cooking; the biggest were around five times that size and had multiple rooms.

The archaeologists and researchers were thrilled with their findings at Hamin Mangha, but as they began to unearth a dwelling designated “F40,” their enthusiasm quickly gave way to shock when they uncovered a spine-tingling scene…

In the ruins of the small structure, the researchers unearthed almost 100 deformed skeletons and it seemed the building had caught on fire at some point with all the bodies inside.