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Lucerne is 2,400 years older than previously thought

Lucerne underwater archaeology.
In 2020, archaeologists discovered traces of a pile dwelling (or stilt house) village while laying a pipeline in Lucerne’s natural harbour area. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The lakeside village discovered in 2020 under the surface of Lake Lucerne is 5,400 years old – that is 2,400 years older than previously thought, city officials said on Wednesday.

In 2020, archaeologists discovered traces of a pile dwelling (or stilt house) village while laying a pipeline in Lucerne’s natural harbour area.

+ Bronze Age village found under Swiss lake

Experts initially estimated that it was a Bronze Age lakeside village dated around 1000 BC. But Lucerne’s Chancellery on Wednesday said new investigations showed that the settlement already existed in 3400 BC.

Around 1.5 metres below the lakebed the researchers found a dark layer with a high organic content and charcoal, which pointed to 3400 BC. The finds also included ceramic fragments, burnt grain and flint implements.

+ How science is helping unearth ancient submerged Alpine settlements

These finds indicate the remains of one or more Neolithic villages, a press release said. They also demonstrated once again that the lake water level was significantly lower than it is today.

“With the current, new findings, we can clearly prove that the history of Lucerne begins with a Neolithic pile-dwelling settlement. This is really a sensation and means that people were already settling in the area of ​​today’s city 5,400 years ago,” said cantonal archaeologist Jürg Manser.

More excavations are now needed to document this important cultural and historical evidence, the experts say. These were planned before the start of construction of an underground train link, which will not be delayed.

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