Swiss dolmen reveals rituals of the Neolithic

A sensational archaeological discovery has been made in the region of Bern, Switzerland, consisting of a communal dolmen grave dating back to over 5,000 years, containing 30 bodies and Neolithic artefacts. It represents the first intact burial chamber to be found north of the Alps.

The dolmen during the early stages of excavation with the massive capstone in situ. (Source: ADB)

In October 2011, specialists from the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern began investigation of the large granite slab weighing in at 7 tonnes. The glacial erratic measured 3 metres long, 2 metres wide and was nearly 1 metre thick – what they did not realise at first was that it still covered a grave belonging to a Neolithic community.

The site was originally found when a farmer decided to try and remove the glacial boulder that he had to mow around when cutting grass in his field.

The boulder is from the last glacial maximum – some 20,000 years ago – and used by the early farmers during the 4th millennium BCE for burial purposes.

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