In early April, mapmaking enthusiast Tomas Karlsson was exploring a forest outside the small western town of Alingsås, Sweden, when he noticed a gleam of metal on the mossy forest floor. “It looked like … garbage,” Karlsson, who made the find while updating a map for his orienteering club, tells Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, per a translation by Agence France-Presse (AFP). “‘Is that a lamp lying here?’ I thought at first.” Little did he know that he had discovered some 80 rare Bronze Age artifacts dated between 750 and 500 B.C.
From an article in Smithsonian Magazine by Nora McGeevy.
What initially resembled bits of scrap metal turned out to be a small pile of handmade jewelry that appears to have been scraped loose from between two boulders by an animal. Intrigued, reports Mia Pettersson for Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, Karlsson emailed an archaeologist about the discovery while paused for a coffee break.
Soon after, researchers from the nearby University of Gothenburg revealed the fantastic nature of Karlsson’s accidental find: He had unwittingly happened upon a deposit of about 80 rare Bronze Age artifacts (including 50 wholly intact pieces and 30 fragments) dated to between 750 and 500 B.C.
As a local government statement notes, per Google Translate, the extraordinary trove is “very well preserved” and amounts to one of the “most spectacular and largest depot finds from the Late Bronze Age ever made, not only in western Sweden but in all of Sweden.”
Archaeologist Johan Ling led a team of researchers that used metal detectors and laser scanning techniques to determine the full extent of the buried treasure. A separate university statement notes that the items were likely deposited by a very rich person or family.
“This may have been in connection with a burial in order to facilitate their use in the afterlife,” says Ling in the statement, per a translation by Phys.org. “But more likely [it was] a way of signaling their status: ‘I can afford to sacrifice some of my affluence.’”
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