Swiss Archaeologists Discover 5,500 Year Old Submerged Monument
The unusual man-made pile of stones were discovered 15 feet (4.6 meters) deep on the bed of the Swiss side of Lake Constance, a 207 square mile (333 square kilometer) body of water on the border with Germany and Austria. Archaeologists claim that the range of mysterious man-shaped stones are 5,500 years old and that the stones are situated at regular intervals and align parallel to the modern lake’s shoreline.
18,000 Year Old Stones?
The scientists say much more analysis is required to understand exactly ‘how’ the rocks made it to their locations but archaeologists are using a ship equipped with a 49 foot (15 meter) long digger arm to reveal the stones for measuring and studying. In a Daily Mail article a spokesman from the Archaeology Office of the Swiss Canton of Thurgau said the findings were “sensational” after carrying out excavations using underwater georadar developed by the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany.
A ship equipped with a digger removed material alongside the stones and to reveal them for study. (Thurgau Archaeology )
The researchers noted a high-frequency of electromagnetic pulses in the lake which turned out to be a hidden layer in the lake bed. It was in this layer that the team of researchers found the stones and they analyzed the lake's sediment questing the origin and purpose of the formations. In the beginning it was unclear whether the stones were natural formations or glacial deposits from 18,000 years ago, but the Archaeology Office said that “it is now scientifically proven that the cairns did not originate naturally from the glacier but were piled up by human hands”.
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The Archaeology Office of the Swiss Canton of Thurgau described the findings as 'sensational' after carrying out extensive excavations on the lake bed. (Thurgau Archaeology)
The cairns were first discovered in 2015 by the Institute for Lake Research in the town of Langenargen in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and it was suspected that these stone formations were from the Bronze Age dating to around 1,000 BC. However, it is now confirmed that these mysterious piles of stones which are often, ‘predictably’, compared to an underwater Stonehenge are much older than previously thought.
Researchers expect to discover an ancient farmhouse or field area. According to Dr. Leuzinger, “this extensive site consists of 170 cairns of 17,657 cubic feet (500 cubic meters) of stones”.
A piece of Poplar wood retrieved by the divers which may have been used as part of the construction or excavation of the rocks. (Thurgau Archaeology)
Urs Leuzinger, a researcher on the project, estimates that the cairns were originally located along the lake’s shoreline and he said that he has “never experienced anything like this”. He is not the only one who is scratching their head and not a single archaeologists is able to identify what the stones represent or were originally used for. While their purpose officially remains a thing of mystery, a TWNews article suggests that they may have served as weirs, burial mounds, or signposted transportation routes.
Open Air Lake Museum
While the discoveries really are remarkable, they might only be the tip of an archaeological iceberg, for according to the Thurgau Office for Archaeology “the alignments would have been near a settlement of lake dwellings. These ancient residences will be located much deeper under water” and perhaps closer to the prehistoric shoreline, but the archaeologists apply caution in their expectations for finding these dwellings for even if they did once exist they might have eroded away many years ago.
With all these murky underwater photographs you might be struggling to visualize what exactly has been discovered here, but if you want to get an idea of what life was like in the Neolithic era in this part of Europe there is perhaps no better resource than the Lake Dwelling Museum on Lake Constance in Unteruhldingen, situated on the German shores of Lake Constance. Currently the museum attracts about 300,000 visitors per year and ranks among the largest open air museums in Europe with about 600 members from all over the world, and since its conception, it has had archaeological passion at its core.
The man-made piles of stones were found on the Swiss side of Lake Constance, a 207-square-mile lake on the borders of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria and work is ongoing to learn more about them. (Thurgau Archaeology)
On March 12, 1922, 60 prehistory enthusiasts founded the Society of Lake Dwelling Archeology and Regional Ethnology and with the help of experts from the Research Institute for Prehistory in Tübingen, they began a reconstruction of two pole houses from the Federseemoor marshes in Upper Swabia. Now, the museum features many incredibly painstakingly reconstructed ancient villages towering precariously over the lake on wooden stilts.
Top image: Archaeologists have discovered a range of mysterious man-made stones submerged beneath the surface of Lake Constance. Source: Thurgau Archaeology
By Ashley Cowie