There’s nothing like a weird, unexplained hand in the ground to get the imagination going. Last year, metal detectorists in Switzerland discovered a bronze and gold hand in the ground near near Lake Biel, and archaeologists don’t know what to make of it. The hand is estimated to be 3,500 years old and is unlike anything known to archaeology. What was the purpose of this strange metal hand, and who did it belong to?
The hand has been named the Hand of Prêles after the area in which it was discovered and doesn’t appear to have been worn like a glove but instead seems to have been mounted on a staff or scepter. Right know, little is known about the hand, and it’s likely to stay that way. It is so far being described as a “unique and remarkable object” and is one of the oldest pieces of bronze representing a part of the human body known to archaeologists.
Carbon dating placed the creation of the hand between 1500 and 1400 BCE and the gilding on the hand indicate that its owner was likely someone high-ranking or perhaps that the hand was meant to be representative of a deity. According to a Canton de Bern press release, the hand was found buried atop another mysterious stone structure, possibly a tomb, which has yet to be excavated. To add intrigue to the discovery, the excavation site seems to have been looted or tampered with shortly after the hand’s discovery. The archaeological department of Canton de Bern confirmed that a criminal investigation is underway but did not divulge any further information.
Discoveries like this always make me wonder: what will the archaeologists of the future make of all the modern-day junk they dig up from our time. What imagined purpose might they assign to the millions of dead iPhones they’ll find in the irradiated ruins of 21st-century Earth?