Stunning Bronze Age Jewelry Hoard Unearthed in Switzerland
“An important jewelry ensemble from the Middle Bronze Age” uncovered between August and now, has been announced in Switzerland’s Güttingen. It consists of several spiked jewelry discs (14 in total), two spiral finger rings and over 100 tiny amber beads, roughly the size of pinheads, from what was a freshly ploughed carrot field in August.
Alongside this Bronze Age jewelry hoard, fossilized animal remains were discovered, and scattered loosely - a bronze arrowhead, lumps of polished ore, an ammonite (a type of extinct marine mollusk), a shark's tooth, a perforated bear's tooth, and a rock crystal!
Tweezers and Block Recovery: Archaeological Sciences
Franz Zahn uncovered this discovery in August while removing scrap metal for an unidentified farmer in the northeastern village of Güttingen, as reported in a Thurgau Canton government statement. For the amber beads, Zahn carefully plucked these out of the soil using tweezers, and then reported his finds to the local Office of Archaeology to survey the field.
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Block recovery of the find at Güttingen. (Canton of Thurgau)
They arrived the next day and determined that block recovery had to be carried out, i.e., removal of a large area of earth around the artifacts, 50x50x50 cm (19.68x19.68x19.68 in) in dimension. The earth block was carefully transported to the laboratory in Frauenfeld, where it was meticulously exposed by a skilled restorer.
The process involved documenting the finds layer by layer, enabling researchers to gain insights into the circumstances surrounding their deposition in the soil. This method of investigation was informed by a previous, similar discovery near Etzwilen, which occurred two years ago. The prior experience with the Etzwilen find contributed valuable knowledge to this new excavation.
Bronze Age Jewelry being carefully restored in the laboratory in Frauenfeld. (Canton of Thurgau)
Costume Bronze Age Jewelry: Protective and Healing Qualities?
Archaeologists have determined that these jewelry items represent "typical costume jewelry" worn by women around 1500 BC during the Bronze Age. The distinctive spiked discs, described as particularly "eye-catching," were connected with metal spirals serving as spacers. Each disc featured a narrow hole, allowing easy threading with a piece of thread or leather for wearing as an adornment, reports The Heritage Daily.
Spirals found at Güttingen. (Thurgau Canton)
Eleven of these spirals were discovered in Güttingen, and in addition, there were eight slightly larger spirals crafted from fine gold wire, with a combined weight exceeding 21 grams. The ensemble was further complemented by over 100 amber beads and two finger rings adorned with double spirals.
This fascinating collection raises certain questions about the possibility of a jewelry box at the site, and if the rock crystals, fossils, and stones, were curiosities or souvenirs from a visit to the Klettgau region. Archaeologists also ponder if there is a deeper significance to these objects, as such items of this nature were often believed to possess special protective or healing qualities and may have been worn as amulets, reports Arkeonews.
This deposit of artifacts dates to a time when significant high cultures were thriving in places like Egypt and Crete in the Mediterranean. It's worth noting that relatively few settlements from this era are known in Thurgau. In Güttingen, for instance, a substantial Bronze Age pile-dwelling village, complete with structures built on stilts, and abundant archaeological finds, was examined near the "mouse tower" a few years ago. However, this village only came into existence around 1000 BC, indicating that the newly discovered artifacts predate this larger settlement.
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Close up of the discs and beads. (Thurgau Canton)
Although no human remains were unearthed, it is believed that these items were buried at the site, possibly within a sack or another type of organic container that has since decomposed, and there was no trace of any grave. Regardless of the burial method, researchers speculate that these artifacts held significance to the wearer and may have been seen as possessing a protective or healing quality, akin to an amulet.
The recently uncovered artifacts are currently undergoing restoration and are scheduled for display at the Museum of Archaeology in Frauenfeld next year.
Top image: Bronze Age jewelry found in Swiss carrot field. Comprising of a necklace adorned with spiked discs, an amber necklace, finger rings, gold spirals, and distinctive discoveries like a bear tooth and an ammonite. Source: Canton of Thurgau
By Sahir Pandey
Altuntas, L. 2023. Bronze Age women’s jewelry set discovered in Güttingen carrot field, Swiss. Available at: https://arkeonews.net/bronze-age-womens-jewelry-set-discovered-in-guttingen-carrot-field-swiss/.
Milligan, M. 2023. ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVER BRONZE AGE TREASURE HOARD. Available at: https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/10/archaeologists-uncover-bronze-age-treasure-hoard/148899.
Nalewicki, J. 2023. Stash of 'eye-catching' Bronze Age jewelry discovered by metal detectorist in Swiss carrot field. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/archaeology/stash-of-eye-catching-bronze-age-jewelry-discovered-by-metal-detectorist-in-swiss-carrot-field.
Thurgau Canton Press Release, Oct 2023. Bronze Age jewelry hoard discovered in Güttingen. Available at: https://www.tg.ch/news.html/485/news/66328