3,000-Year-Old Human Settlement Found at the Bottom of Swiss Lake

There’s no end of strange and fascinating creatures hiding in the sea. But there’s more than just alien-like species deep below the waves. Parts of our own past are sitting in the cold and dark waters, waiting for mankind to rediscover them. Want proof? A team of researchers in Switzerland just found a lost settlement at the bottom of a Swiss lake; the find dates back 3,000 years to the Bronze Age.

A diver holds a piece of wood while swimming in a lake surrounded by a Swiss town during the dayCanton of Lucerne

Swiss Info reports (in a story we first heard about at Smithsonian magazine) that a team of archeologists surveying Lake Lucerne has unearthed evidence of a prehistoric village. Lucerne had plans for a new pipeline in the harbor; this provided an excuse to finally dig deep into the thick layer of mud that has long frustrated researchers looking for evidence of old settlements.

A team from Underwater Archeology Zurich accompanied the dredging. From December 2019 until February of this year, excavators pulled up 30 wooden poles and five ceramic fragments. All evidence of a pile dwelling. (Also known as a stilt house.) The finds came from roughly four meters (13 feet) deep.

C14 radiocarbon testing of the wood dates the pieces to around 1,000 BCE. That’s 2,000 years prior to the previous recorded earliest settlement in the area. Which is well before the formal founding of Lucerne, which dates back only 800 years.

A scubadiver holds a piece of wood up to a boatCanton of Lucerne

This discovery is the proof many have longed hoped to prove that Lucerne’s basin was once a settlement. In the 15th century, the lake’s waters rose; the lake was once five meters lower than it is today, when the town says it was “ dry and formed an ideal, easily accessible settlement area.”

Two pieces of wood from an old settlement sitting on a boat deckCanton of Lucerne

Other lakes and sea beds around the world certainly have their own prehistoric secrets waiting to be discovered. Some will even date back to before the Bronze Age. We just don’t know when we’ll find them.

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