5000 Years of History at Zurich Rescue Excavations: Stone Age Wooden Door (and more)

Excavations at the Opera House car park, Zurich, Switserland. Rescue excavations at the construction site of an underground car park in the Swiss city of Zurich are exceeding all expectations.

So far, the remains of at least five successive prehistoricsettlements came to light, as well as some amazing finds.

These including a flint dagger from Italy anda 5000-year-old wooden door – looking incredibly good for its age.

The oldest of the settlements discovered at the Opera House digis dated to as early as 3700 BC.

Underneath these remains, the archaeologists from Zurich’s Structural Engineering Department found sediment layers, which will offer information about the fluctuating water levels of Lake Zurich over time.

In addition to the sediment strata and building features over 8000 wood samples have been recovered.

The absence of oxygen in the lake sediments made that a wealth of organic remains are preserved.

5,000-year-old Stone Age Door

Amongst the remains was a Stone Age door, which is likely to be the third oldest door in Switzerland as well as Europe.

The prehistoric wooden door measures 153 by 88 centimetres and extremely well-preserved, with even its hinges still visible.

Remarkable is the way its planks were held together using a sophisticated plugs system.

Dating of the wood’s tree rings dendrochronology suggests the door was made (or at least, the three felled) in the year 3,063 BC.

More Archaeological Treasures

So far, one human skeleton has been discovered at the Zurich dig.

Other finds at the archaeological site were a heavily used flint dagger from Italy which offers information on the prehistoric transalpine trade routes and a new type of bow and arrow with bark ornament and a yet to be determined adhesive technology.

Stone Age tinderboxes were recovered at the dig, complete with lumps of iron sulphide, fire strikers and mushrooms the F. fomentarius, or Tinder Fungus.

From these boxes, several wooden pieces were found, which will provide further information on the containers’ designs.

The dig also revealed the oldest evidence for the use of wooden shingles in Zurich , a child-size bow and silex knifes silex being the steel of the Stone Age.

Modern when compared are the sandstone remains of the 17th century city wall, the construction of which can be investigated in detail for the first time.

The rescue excavations at the the Opera House car park have been ongoing for five months (an impressive photographic overview on the Zurich website). The dig will be completed by the end of January 2011, when the archaeologists have investigated the 3500 square metre area.