There is a flat, treeless plain east of Budapest, a lazy grassland of grazing horses and also cattle and also sheep, whereby wild storks swoop down into marshy wetlands follow me the Tisza River and also distant mirages glisten in the sun. What on this huge 20,000-square-mile prairie, cradled in the north and east by the gloomy Carpathian mountains and known come the natives as the Alföld, or good Hungarian Plain, lie the skeletal of Attila the Hun.

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Attila, the biggest of the Hun kings, that in the fifth Century A.D. Unified his tribesmen come terrify the crumbling roman inn Empire and came close to vanquishing fifty percent of it, the ruler of a kingdom that stretched from the Danube through southern Russia and from the flow Don to the Dniester and also up from the black color Sea as much north as the Pripet Marshes in Belarus; this man now rests in an unmarked grave that has never been found.

There is a reason that Attila’s grave has vanished indigenous history: It was deliberately hidden, possibly to protect against the desecration of his remains. Or probably it to be to protect the treasure buried with him, among which could be a prize he received from a humble herdsman who heifer stumbled top top it, the sacred sword that the war god Mars, a gift which foretold his climb to ruler of the world.

Whatever the motives, the males who dug his tomb 15 centuries ago, the slaves who to be commanded to take him come a secret spot just they would certainly know and bury him there, were themselves murdered by your Hun masters after completing their labor. This to be done to ensure that the an enig would never be discovered, and the grave has actually not been gazed top top since.

Yet the surname Attila has actually endured, perceived by numerous in the Western civilization as the embodiment that rampaging brutality, the “Scourge the God” that induced an excellent Christians come blame the devastation the wrought top top the wrath of God and also their very own sins. In Hungary that is miscellaneous of a hero. Modern Hungarians, despite unrelated come the Huns that once occupied their land, also name their kids Attila, and also some towns in this main European nation confidently proclaim themselves, without proof, the funeral site that this well known warlord. Over there was even a project outside of Budapest to rebuild his palace. Archaeologists, historians, and treasure hunters from roughly the human being still search for his grave, propelled by a desperate hope that part old skeleton uncovered at a dig site could be his, and that they can glory in the title: discoverer that the grave of Attila the Hun.


A 17th century relenten of Attila from Ungarische Chronica created by German writer Wilhelm Dilich

Attila himself was a guy of pleasant manner, brief with a broad chest and huge head, tiny eyes, and also a flat nose. His skin, like many of the Huns, to be darker than Romans’ or Goths’, and also his beard was thin and sprinkled through gray. In ~ a banquet that once provided for a delegation the Romans visiting his palace, he preferred straightforward meat top top a wood plate and wine in a wood cup, when his guest were served lavishly all set dishes on silver platters and also wine native goblets made of gold and also silver. He dressed plainly and, unlike his other Huns, no his knife nor his boots no one the bridle that his equine was decorated through gold or jewels or noþeles of value. Throughout an entertainer’s performance at the banquet, that did not laugh and also his expression stayed impassive until the arrival of his youngest son, who he drew close and also gazed at through “gentle eyes.”

Atilla had actually had part setbacks by 453 A.D., but he might well have actually regained his condition as scourge the the empire, if not for a fateful decision. He took another wife.

The girl was named Ildico, a young German indigenous the Burgundian tribe, the latest enhancement to a long retinue that wives. The wedding took location in his palace. ~ a night of an excellent celebration and much drinking, he joined his new wife in the marital relationship bed. At some point in the night the passed out from the wine, and while in this state, an artery in his sleep burst, causing good streams that blood to flow. Under simple circumstances, the blood would have actually simply gushed out his nose, yet instead, that rushed under his throat, and also he suffocated and also died.

The next morning, once he go not emerge from his chambers, the imperial attendants barged right into his room and also found the dead ~ above the bed extended in blood and also his new wife weeping. Every the members of the Hun tribe started to mourn. Castle plucked the hair the end of their heads in grief, and also the men took swords and also knives to their faces and also made deep wounds, it to be said, so that such a famous warrior would certainly be mourned no by the effeminate wailings of women, however by the blood that men. Ildico, the young bride, to be suspected as his murderer, and rumors abounded, despite nothing was ever proved.

The body was put inside a silken time on the level plain where world could gaze upon it, when the best of the Hun horsemen rode roughly the tent in circles and also a funeral dirge to be recited according to the practice of their pagan religion. He to be mourned, lamentations to be told, and his coffin was bound v gold, silver, and iron. In the secrecy of night it was taken for burial. Right into the dig they put gems and also ornaments and also the arms and also weapons i m sorry he had actually confiscated together trophies indigenous foes beat in battle, and perhaps the knife of Mars.


Attila the Hun portrait by sculptor George S. Stuart. Photo: Peter d’Aprix -CC BY-SA 3.0

And then, once the king was buried, the gravediggers, that alone knew the secret location of the grave, to be slaughtered.

Though Attila’s gravesite stays unknown, historians think it have to not be really far from the royal residence where that died, one enclosed wooden compound through a courtyard and porticoes set within a large village surrounding by a smooth, wood fence. Unfortunately, nobody knows precisely where Attila organized his court, and there is just one known account the a journey to the Hun capital.

The writer to be a Roman named Priscus, a Thracian native the city that Pannium who served in the imperial government in Constantinople under Theodosius II as a civil servant and also chronicler. Priscus was a member that the well known delegation of 449 A.D., which bore a prospective assassin of Atilla, despite Priscus had actually no expertise of or function in the failed plot.

From Priscus’ account, the is possible to item together whereby the palace could have been. His hints have tantalized historians and the curious because that centuries. Priscus and the others set out from Constantinople and, after ~ 13 days, got to a city called Serdica, which now is Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Indigenous Serdica, they travel to Naissus, contemporary Nis in Serbia, i m sorry they discovered in great disarray from a massacre. They to be headed for the Danube River, and left Naissus in that direction, a trip of five days, follow to Priscus. They halted a brief distance far from the river in a clear spot, for the land leading up to the riverbank was littered through the skeleton of guys who had passed away in the massacre.

On the adhering to day they took a short detour to satisfy the roman commander the the forces in the province, and also then set out in a westward direction towards the Danube. On the method they acquired lost, because the terrain to be thickly shaded and also the path took countless twists and also turns, yet they regained their westward bearings, and also eventually came to a wooded plain close to the river, probably not much from the city of Viminacium, today the website of Kostolac, Serbia, and they were conveyed throughout the Danube by barbarian ferrymen in wooden watercrafts each made from the trunk of a single tree.

Once across the Danube, the men were in Hun territory. They traveled for 4 days with Hun escorts in the direction of the northerly components of the country, crossing three navigable rivers, the Dreccon, the Tigas, and also the Tiphesas. No one has actually been maybe to determine these names, though many believe that the Tigas refers to the good river Tisza of east Hungary, the 2nd largest in the country after the Danube, and also that one of the others might be the Körös. The embassy ongoing for seven much more days on roadways and throughout other rivers until they lastly arrived in ~ a big Barbarian town made up of little wooden huts and only one rock structure, a public bath, the entire ar enclosed in a great wooden wall. It was the Hun capital, the settlement that housed Attila’s palace.

If Priscus indeed crossed both the Tisza and also Körös rivers in a seven-day trip westward indigenous Nis, then Attila’s palace, and the village that hosted it, both long ago faded to dust, could have satellite somewhere in east Hungary between the Tisza and the Danube. Priscus remarked the the timber and rock used for building was imported by the Huns from elsewhere, due to the fact that neither existed anywhere near the settlement. This is tho the case on the good Hungarian plain.

Priscus additionally mentions the after cross the 3 rivers, the embassy came to the spot wherein long prior to the old Gothic king, Vidigoia, to be murdered through the guile that Sarmatians. Attila’s royal residence was “no great distance” native that legend place. Vidigoia, who name appears nowhere rather in history, to be the subject of Gothic sagas long lost, and also while it can be surmised the he was killed by part act that treachery throughout the Sarmatian-Gothic wars over one hundreds years before Priscus’s journey, beyond that nothing an ext is known of the guy or the place where that died.


Huns in battle with the Alans. One 1870s sculpture after a drawing by Johann Nepomuk Geiger (1805–1880).

One ancient historian remarked the Attila’s gravediggers were murdered so that the treasures buried with him would certainly be preserved from person curiosity. The old Egyptians additionally buried your dead with good riches however chose to note the spot v towering monuments of significant longevity, and also thus hazard robbery. The Huns, that seems, did not issue themselves through posterity or the admiration of future generations—they had never learned to review or compose and detailed us with no written document of their lives. And while they took an excellent effort come ensure the Attila was effectively supplied because that the afterlife, they reportedly did not care to storage the immortality that his spirit in the form of a gravestone or a good shrine, nor any kind of tangible type of memory that might be passed down for future civilization to rigid upon.

After his death, Attila’s empire was split in between his sons, who dealt with viciously over your inheritance. This clashes urged the German tribes, who had actually so lengthy been topic to the Huns, to rebel. Their insurrection culminated in a battle near the now-unknown Nedao River, what in southern Hungary. On that day the Huns lost their empire.

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In 476 A.D., the west Emperor, Romulus Augustulus to be deposed and also so ended the Roman empire in the West. However the Huns, who had actually dealt the last deathblow, had currently scattered throughout the land. And, over time, the remnants of Attila’s race disappeared.

Max Eastern is the writer of the noir thriller “The Gods that Walk among Us,” a winner the the Kindle scout competition. To learn more, go to