A trove of Bronze Age relics has been discovered in a Swedish forest, in a find that some experts are praising as potentially game-changing for archaeologists focused on the period.
Cartographer Tomas Karlsson was working on a map of the woods in western Sweden when he stumbled upon what he seemed like a pile of metal garbage, carelessly tossed by a boulder. Even after examining the objects—mostly personal belongings and decorations—Karlsson didn’t yet suspect that he had discovered a trove of 2,500-year-old relics.
“It all looked so new,” he told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “I thought they were fake.”
The treasure trove found outside the town of Alingsas includes 50 extremely well-preserved relics from the Nordic Bronze Age. Sweden’s County Administrative Board has described the discovery as one of “the most spectacular and largest cache finds” from the era, which began in 1700 B.C.E. and lasted until 500 B.C.E. During that period, Scandinavians imported jewels and fine metals from Central and Western Europe, fusing foreign influences with their own to create one of the finest metalworking cultures on the continent.
“Presumably animals have dug them out of a crevice between the boulders, where you can assume that they had been lying before,” said the government agency in a statement.
Most of the items were jewelry, like rings, necklaces, and ankle bracelet, that belonged to women of high social standing. Decorative items such as hair ornaments and eyelets used to pin pieces of clothing were used to signify to others the wearer’s wealth and influence. A team of archaeologists is now investigating the collection in greater detail.
Pernilla Morner, an antiquities expert for Vastra Gotaland region, told the BBC that “not since the bronze shields from Froslunda were excavated from a field in Skaraborg in the mid-1980s has such an exciting find from the Bronze Age been made in Sweden.”