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Hunt for ancient Roman pottery workshop leads to much older ‘exciting’ find

A team of archaeologists recently conducted excavations ahead of a planned construction project in Switzerland.

The experts suspected that buried beneath the site in Heimberg was an ancient Roman pottery workshop, according to a Feb. 14 news release from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern.

But when the archaeologists dug in to the ground, they didn’t find the workshop. Instead, they found something much older: ruins of a Bronze Age settlement.

Pottery found at the site dates to the Middle Bronze Age, according to researchers.
Pottery found at the site dates to the Middle Bronze Age, according to researchers.

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The researchers spent three months in the fall of 2023 exploring the site, officials said.

“Pits and ditches from a prehistoric settlement were discovered,” Christoph Schelhammer, who works in education and communications for the archaeological service, told McClatchy News in a Feb. 26 email. “What is exciting about the Heimberg site is that no settlement from the Middle Bronze Age was previously known at this location.”

Experts unearthed structures dating to between 1500 B.C. and 1200 B.C., Schelhammer said. Among the discoveries were several pits “filled with stones that were broken up by heat.”

“It is not clear what these pits with the fragmented stones were used for,” he said. “It is conceivable that the stones were heated in a fire and placed in the pits for heating.”

Photos show one of the pits teeming with heat stones.

Archaeologists aren’t exactly sure what purpose the pits filled with fragmented stones served.
Archaeologists aren’t exactly sure what purpose the pits filled with fragmented stones served.

Similar remains have been unearthed from other settlements from the same time period. Ancient pottery was also discovered at the site, according to Schelhammer.

Archaeologists only excavated part of the site, so its original size is unknown, Schelhammer said. However, experts estimate that the settlement could’ve been home to 100 to 200 people based on other, similar settlements that have been examined.

Heimberg is about 90 miles southwest of Zürich.

Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern.

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