More Bronze Age gear found on Swiss Alpine pass

In the same pass in the Swiss Alps where the Bronze Age wooden lunchbox with wheat residue was discovered, archaeologists have unearthed more prehistoric artifacts that may have been part of the Bronze Age equivalent of an Alpine survival kit. Last month, experts from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Berne Lötschen Pass unearthed assorted tools dating to the Bronze Age.

They’ve known there was something there since 2011 when Beat Dietrich, the guardian of the pass, notified them he’d seen artifacts exposed in the melting glacier. Archaeologists recovered some of them, including what would later prove to be the Bronze Age lunch box containing coarsely ground flour, the next summer. When the brief clement weather closed, the remaining objects were covered by snow and continued to be so for five years. It was only in September of this year that archaeologists were able to fully excavate the find site and remove the artifacts they had been unable to get to in 2012.

So now, on top of the box, the fragments of bows, three flint arrowheads, a cow horn vessel and snippets of leather recovered from the earlier dig, archaeologists can add four fragments of bows, more strips and bands of leather, broken arrows, pieces of birch bark and a cord made from animal fibers with a horn button.

Archaeologists believe this may well have been gear carried by the same mountaineer trudging through the Bernese Alps 4,000 years ago. His box of comestibles was supplemented by a bag in which he carried his bows and arrows. All those strips of leather and birch bark fragments could have been used to create a quiver or backpack kind of container.

Even if the objects didn’t all belong to one person, the discovery of so much Bronze Age mountaineering gear is unique. Dating to around 2,000-1,800 B.C., they are the oldest artifacts ever found in the pass.

The melting of the glaciers has also revealed later finds from the Iron Age, Roman era, Middle Ages and modern times, including human remains of people lost in the mountains decades ago. An archaeological survey performed by researchers in Bern has unearthed a wooden artifact of indeterminate purpose dating to Roman times, wooden stave buckets from the Middle Ages and a wood vessel from the Iron Age that bears traces of fire. Researchers believe it may have been used to carry embers through the mountains so people could quickly make fire in all weather conditions.

The range of dates and artifacts in these discoveries underscore that the Lötschen Pass has been used consistently by human travelers between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais for at least 4,000 years.

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Comment by G. Oatis
2017-10-06 07:54:42

Looks as if those Bronze Age mountaineering -and presumably mule tracking- ‘Alp Uncles’ were, for obvious reasons, using Wood :D

 
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