3,000-year-old sacrificial well uncovered in Germany

The researchers believe that artifacts found in the well were meant as sacrifices for the harvest.

Sunflowers are silhouetted during sunset in Germering near Munich, August 4, 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)
Sunflowers are silhouetted during sunset in Germering near Munich, August 4, 2011.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)

A wood-lined well from 3,000 years ago during the Bronze Age was found during construction operations in Germering in Bavaria, Germany, Heritage Daily reported on Sunday.

The conditions at the base of the well helped completely preserve the lining, according to the report.

Artifacts uncovered at the site

Researchers found metal spirals, an animal tooth pendant and over 70 ceramic vessels in the sediment layers at the bottom of the well.

The vessels include bowls, pots and cups of the variety often found in burials from the Middle Bronze Age, all of which were completely intact, indicating they were handled carefully.

The researchers believe that the items were meant as sacrifices for the harvest.

Town Hall of Germering, Bavaria, Germany (credit: RICHARD HUBER/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Town Hall of Germering, Bavaria, Germany (credit: RICHARD HUBER/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

“We cannot explain what motives our ancestors had 3000 years ago, by ritually offering jewelry and other valuable gifts. But it can be assumed that they were intended as sacrifices for a good harvest.”

Mathias Pfeil, Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments

“Even today, fountains have something magical about them for many people,” said Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments. “They drop coins in the hope that their wishes will be granted. We cannot explain what motives our ancestors had 3000 years ago, by ritually offering jewelry and other valuable gifts. But it can be assumed that they were intended as sacrifices for a good harvest.”

A study of sediments and organic material in the well suggested that it was used during an extended period of drought and poor harvest yields.

The researchers believe this may be why the extravagant artifacts were left in the well as ritual offerings.

Excavations at Germering have yielded 13,500 finds and more than 70 additional wells, mainly from the Middle Ages and the Bronze Age.

Germering was an early settlement, researchers have concluded based on archaeological findings from prehistory and from more recently, according to Arkeonews.

A letter distribution center is being constructed at the site of the well, Arkeonews reported, noting that the excavations were among the largest in the state this year.