Archaeologists discover oldest gold ornament in southwest Germany

Archaeologists working in the Tübingen area of southwestern Germany have discovered the oldest gold object in the region to date. It is a spiral gold wire ring found in the grave of an early Bronze Age woman. According to the results of the analysis, its age is about 3800 years.

Precious metal finds from this period are very rare in southwestern Germany. The gold probably comes from Cornwall in southwestern Britain.

Archaeologists argue that this is unusually early evidence of a far-reaching trade in luxury goods by people of the time. The excavations were led by Professor Rajko Krauss of the Institute of Prehistoric and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen and Dr. Jörg Bofinger of the Esslingen-based Baden-Württemberg State Office for Cultural Heritage Protection.

During the excavations, the researchers found that the woman was buried in the fetal position, facing south. This type of burial was typical of the Late Neolithic period in Central Europe. The only other object found in the grave was a spiral curl of gold wire, placed behind the woman’s remains at about hip level.

This may have been a hair decoration and indicates that the wearer was of high social status. Radiocarbon dating of the bones allows the burial to be dated to about 1850-1700 B.C., the Early Bronze Age.

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