A 2,500-year-old canoe discovered in Swiss lake

March 18, 2024
A 2,500-year-old canoe discovered in Swiss lake - SWI swissinfo.ch

Archaeologists have discovered a remarkably well-preserved dugout canoe from the Early Iron Age in Lake Neuchâtel in western Switzerland.

Archaeologists Discover 2,500-Year-Old Canoe In Remarkable Condition

The 12.30-metre-long canoe was pulled out of the lake last Friday. It was resting at a depth of 3.5 metres on a sandbank on the north shore of the lake, according to the Vaud canton’s archaeology department. The canoe was unveiled to the press on Wednesday.

The cantonal archaeologists were assisted by experts in underwater salvage techniques. This delicate operation required many months of preparation. The location and discovery as such were made in 2021, via an airship that was carrying out archaeological prospecting around the lake.

“This is an archaeological discovery of considerable importance for our understanding of the prehistory of the region. Its radiocarbon analysis dates it to between 750 and 520 BC, a time when there were no villages on the shores of the lakes. It is one of the very few boats from this period in Switzerland that has been preserved almost in its entirety,” said cantonal archaeologist Nicole Pousaz.

 

Very large, very fragile

Enormous And Fully Intact Ancient Canoe Found In Swiss Lake

“She’s a very sickly old lady. Part of the sides of the canoe were torn out by storms and the portion buried in the sediment was very cracked. It’s a very fragile object,” Jean-Daniel Renaud, who runs a company specialising in the technical aspects of underwater and terrestrial archaeology, told press agency Keystone-SDA.

“It was made at the time from an oak trunk about 13 metres long and about a metre in diameter. This type of canoe, which was particularly large, was mainly used for transporting goods and people or for fishing,” added Renaud. It is one of the largest and most complete canoes of its kind to have been discovered in Switzerland, according to the specialist.

Enormous And Fully Intact Ancient Canoe Found In Swiss Lake

The boat will be carefully transported to a specially equipped facility for in-depth study. Dendrochronological dating analyses and photogrammetry combined with laser measurements will be carried out to create a detailed three-dimensional (3D) model. These investigations will provide essential information to shed light on the past and history of this artefact.

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A 2,500-year-old canoe discovered in Swiss lake - SWI swissinfo.ch

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