Archaeologists have discovered six Neolithic aligned standing stones in downtown Sion, Switzerland. The site on the Avenue du Petit-Chasseur was being excavated in advance of construction of a new apartment building. With the 3rd millennium B.C. dolmen of Le Petit-Chasseur less than a quarter mile down the road, the future development gave archaeologists an opportunity to explore one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe.
Several dolmen (dry stone collective tombs) and dozens of anthropomorphic stelae have been found in the area since the first dolmen was found in 1961. No dolmen were found this time, but the six standing stelae in a double row were.
Three of the recently found standing stones are engraved with markings. The biggest find is a stone weighing nearly two tonnes bearing a representation of a male figure wearing geometrically patterned clothing and with a sun-like motif around his face.
One of the stones also has a number of small circular depressions on its surface, something that has not been found before in Valais but has been found at a site in Aosta in Italy.
Archaeologists observed that some of the megaliths appear to have been deliberately broken and deposited. Others are incomplete. It’s possible that later builders re-used the standing stones in whole or in part. Indeed, the earliest dolmens discovered at Petit-Chasseur had walls made of engraved slabs.
This summer’s finds at Petit-Chasseur open new avenues of investigation to explore the megalithic structures of late Neolithic Sion and the complex societal rituals connected to them.