| 8 November 2017
Bronze Axe found north of the Alps
The shape and material of a copper axe blade found in 2008 at Riedmatt, Switzerland, are practically identical to those used by Neolithic peoples further south - including Oetzi, the 5,000-year-old 'iceman' found in the Italian-Austrian border in 1991. People living around the Alps at that time were believed to have sourced their copper locally or from the Balkans, but researchers recently traced the source of the metal in Oetzi's axe to southern Tuscany.
The second axe was discovered in one of the many pile-dwelling villages around the Alps that are famous for their prehistoric wooden houses built on stilts on lakeshores and other wetlands. It is between 5,300 and 5,100 years old, shorter and about half the weight of Oetzi's blade, but the same shape.
Chemical analysis suggests both axes belong to a similar context of copper mining and processing in the ore-rich area around Campiglia Marittima, overlooking the west coast of Italy about 200 kilometres northwest of Rome.
Details were also announced of other finds from some thousand years later and 150 kilometres further south-west. Equipment recovered from a melting glacier includes fragments of bows, flint arrowheads, string made from animal fibre, small pieces of leather, a wooden box containing flour, and a container made from cow-horn. Archaeologists said the artefacts probably belonged to a Bronze age mountaineer crossing the Loetschen pass. The objects date back to somewhere between 2000 and 1800 BCE - the oldest ever found on this route, an important north-south travel route for at least 4,000 years.
Edited from Swissinfo.ch (3 October 2017), The Local (4 October 2017), LiveScience (6 October 2017)
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