Bronze Age jewelry set found in Swiss carrot field

Archaeologists have uncovered a set of Bronze Age women’s jewelry in a freshly-plowed carrot field in Güttingen in northeastern Switzerland’s Thurgau canton. Dating to around 1,500 B.C., the set contains a necklace made of bronze spiked discs, two spiral finger rings, more than a hundred amber beads the size of pinheads and bronze and gold wire spirals. Found with these luxury items were more unusual (and less expensive) items including a rock crystal, a beaver tooth, a perforated bear tooth, a bronze arrowhead, a few lumps of polished iron ore, a small ammonite and a fossilized shark tooth.

The treasure was first spotted in August of this year by amateur archaeologist Franz Zahn. He was traipsing through the field after the carrots had been harvested and saw some bronze discs in the churned up soil. As an avid metal detectorist who has discovered several Iron and Bronze Age objects in the Güttingen area, Zahn immediately recognized the objects were of archaeological significance and notified the Thurgau Office of Archeology.

The spiked discs were of a type frequently found on necklaces in graves or in ritual deposits, so canton archaeologists were dispatched to the site pronto to investigate. The team arrived the next day to recover the discs and surrounding area in a single soil block. The excavation found no evidence of a burial. This was a deposit, buried directly at the find site in an organic container or bag that has long-since decomposed.

The soil block was transported to the conservation laboratory in Frauenfeld for excavation. Each discovery layer was carefully documented during the process. All told, 14 of the bronze discs were found. They are called spiked discs because of the round pointed nub in the center surrounded by three concentric circles. A string or a leather strap would have originally been threaded through a hole on each of the discs with spirals threaded between them as spacers. Eleven bronze and eight larger gold wire spirals were found at the site.

The objects are currently undergoing conservation. Some of them are very delicate and must be treated before they can be displayed. There also being subjected to a variety of scientific analyses. The plan is for the set to go on public display next year at the Museum of Archeology in Frauenfeld.

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