Category Archives: Switzerland

Large dolmen with 30 buried people discovered in Switzerland

Swiss archaeologists have unearthed in the Canton of Bern a large dolmen that must have been above the ground until the Late Middle Ages. The burial contains the remains of some 30 people, which will be studied also for DNA. 
The roof of the Megalithic monument was made from a large glacial boulder measuring 3x2x1 meters, which was the only part remaining visible and was not initially identified as such megalith. 

The dolmen upon excavation

Reconstruction of how it must have looked in the past

The cultural context of Megalithism in this part of Europe corresponds to the southwestern variant of late Danubian Neolithic, known as Horgen culture (c. 3400-2850 BCE, found in all Swabia). In this late period many Western Danubian peoples, as well as other cultures, adopted the Megalithic “collective” (clannic?) burial style, original from SW Europe, breaking away with the original Danubian traditions of simple individual burial in flexed position. However their settlements show continuity with the preceding Pfyn culture, which is widely considered Danubian. Their pottery was rough and influenced the post-Cardial culture of Cortaillod, later Saône-Rhône (French Switzerland and nearby parts of France), but their stone tools were well finished and often polished. Horgen culture collapsed with the arrival of the Kurgan (Indoeuropean) Corded Ware culture.

Sources: Swiss Info (video), Past Horizons, Asociación Los Dólmenes[es].


Oldest European door found in Switzerland

The door is dated, using dendrochronology, to c. 3063 BCE, more than five thousand years ago, in the Chalcolithic (or late Neolithic) era. It has been found in an emergency dig in Zurich city and is not the only one of its kind: it has a close relative from nearby Pfaeffikon and yet another one, this one made of a single plank, may be as old as c. 3700 BCE.
This door is made of several poplar planks and archaeologists find remarkable the method for keeping them together in a single unit. It has well preserved hinges.

The finding is part of a context of five newly-found lake-dwelling Neolithic villages. As always we are surprised by the persistence of the old ways of doing things, as doors much like this one can still be found in veteran rural homes.