The oldest gold object ever found in the southwestern part of Germany has been discovered in an ancient grave. Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen and Baden-Württemberg heritage officials unearthed a gold spiral ring-like object in a grave dating back to the Early Bronze Age.
The excavation was conducted in the German district of Tübingen and was led by Professor Raiko Krauss from the Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen, as well as Dr. Jörg Bofinger from the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Cultural Heritage Management, based in Esslingen. They found that a female was buried in the fetal position and facing southwards. The manner in which she was buried was highly usual of those living in the central part of Europe during the late Neolithic Period.
The grave was situated close to other burials from the Early Bronze Age and it is believed that she had a connection to an ancient hilltop settlement in Kirchberg.
Interestingly, the only item found buried with the woman was a spiral roll made with gold wire. It was found behind her body around her hip area. While it’s not certain as to what the item was used for, it may have been a hair ornament which suggests that the female was of important social status. Radiocarbon dating was performed on the woman’s remains which revealed that she was alive sometime between 1850 and 1700 BCE.
This is a very significant discovery as precious metals from the Early Bronze Age time period are extremely rare in the southwestern part of Germany. This means that the gold used to make the item more than likely came from Cornwall, England. It also provides new information regarding the long-distance trade industry of luxurious items during that time.
The gold used to make the ring-like roll had around 20% silver, less than 2% copper, and a tiny bit of platinum and tin. This indicates that the gold was found washed up from rivers – specifically from the area of the Carnon River in Cornwall.
Based on the gold object and the fact that it may have came from Cornwall, the researchers are confident that there is a connection between ancient western cultural groups and how much influence they had in the central part of Europe during the second millennium BCE.
While experts have already found evidence that jewelry had been made of gold as far back as the 5th millennium BCE, the gold spiral is certainly the oldest gold artifact found in the southwestern part of Germany. Pictures of the grave and the gold object can be seen here.
The study can be read in full here.