Archaeologists have discovered a Bronze Age ritual wishing well filled with over 100 well-preserved artefacts in Bavaria.
The Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection in Germany, in a statement obtained by Newsflash, said: “In Bavaria, an excavation team has discovered a well-preserved well that is more than 3,000 years old. The finds inside suggest that it once served ritual purposes.”
The experts said the wishing well “once reached five metres [16 feet] deep and obviously had cult status.”
They said it was excavated in 2022 in Germering in Upper Bavaria.
They added that they “were able to salvage 26 bronze clothing pins and more than 70 clay vessels.”
The statement said: “The large number and the high quality of the objects indicate that they did not accidentally fall into the well, but were lowered into the well intentionally and intact – for example as part of cult rituals.
“The pottery is not simple everyday crockery, but finely crafted, decorated bowls, cups and pots, such as those used by people in the Middle Bronze Age (approx. 1800-1200 BC) […].”
General Curator Professor Mathias Pfeil, head of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation, said: “Even today, fountains have something magical about them for many people. They drop coins in the hope that their wishes will be granted.
“Today we can no longer understand what motives motivated our ancestors to offer jewellery and other valuable gifts 3,000 years ago. It would be obvious, however, that they were intended as sacrifices for a good harvest.”
The statement said: “In any case, this well differs fundamentally from the other wells on the excavation area of around seven hectares due to its backfilling. More than 70 wells were created there from the Bronze Age to the early Middle Ages. They belonged to settlements from different epochs, which can still be proven today by house floor plans and waste pits.”
Marcus Guckenbiehl, city archaeologist and archivist of Germering, said: “Wells were used to supply the settlements with water. The depth of this well shows that it was used at a time when the groundwater level had dropped considerably, which suggests a long drought and certainly poor harvest yields.
“It is possible that one can see a reason why the people who lived here at that time sacrificed part of their possessions to their gods in this well.”
Dr Jochen Haberstroh, an archaeologist at the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, said: “It is extremely rare for a well to survive more than 3000 years so well. Its wooden walls have been completely preserved at the bottom and are still partly damp from the groundwater. This also explains the good condition of the finds made from organic materials, which are now being examined more closely.
“We hope that this will provide us with more information about the everyday life of the settlers at the time.”
The statement continued: “In addition to the pins and ceramic vessels, the excavation team also found a bracelet, two metal spirals, a set animal tooth, four amber beads, a bark vessel, a wooden scoop, possible grass braids and numerous botanical remains at the bottom of the well.
“The urban area of Germering, which is well looked after archaeologically, has regularly provided unusual artefacts for research into prehistory and early history in Bavaria for decades. Since the beginning of 2021, archaeologists have been working in advance of construction work for a letter distribution centre in the area where the well has now been discovered.
“The excavations are among the largest area excavations of the last year in Bavaria. In the meantime, the experts have been able to document around 13,500 archaeological finds, mainly from the Bronze Age and the early Middle Ages.
“Some of the finds are currently being examined and conserved at the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments. After completion of the subsequent restoration work, these are expected to be made accessible to science and the public at the end of next year in the Germering City Museum.
“Interested people can also visit the permanent exhibition in the ZEIT+RAUM Museum at the town hall on Sundays, which takes you through the development of Germering from the Stone Age to the present day.”