Mysterious Roman traces in Switzerland

View of the excavation site in the canton of Zug, sheltered under a tent. © ADA Zug, David Jecker

Was there a Roman villa or a temple with a view of the Alps around 2000 years ago? Archaeologists have come across the remains of an impressive building complex from Roman times in Central Switzerland. Finds of objects of daily use and some noble objects also bear witness to a place with a high level of ancient culture. Further investigations should now clarify the entire scope of the system and its function.

Raw material extraction with archaeological added value: Large-scale gravel mining in the Äbnetwald near Cham-Oberwil in the canton of Zug has already led to interesting finds from the deeper history of this Alpine region. Traces of settlements and graves from the Bronze Age and numerous coins from the Celtic era came to light. The gravel mining is therefore consistently monitored by the Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology: With around a year's lead before the excavators, the experts examine the layers of the planned mining area. As the Canton of Zug is now reporting, this has again led to a spectacular find.

An impressive building complex emerges

The experts came across more and more sections of wall foundations in the area, which seemed to result in complex structures. This led to an archaeological project, for which a tent was eventually erected to protect the finds and the excavation team from the weather. Further discoveries then confirmed that an impressive building complex with various rooms once stood on the hill. The foundation structures discovered so far already cover an area of ​​at least 500 square meters. However, further excavations must first clarify the entire scope of the complex. Large quantities of iron nails found also indicate that the stone building parts also included extensive wooden structures.

As finds in the former building area make clear, the complex dates back to Roman times: in addition to copper and bronze coins, a silver denarius related to Julius Caesar from the 1st century BC was found. Found.

Roman finds: a silver denarius with the image of an elephant, a fragment of a gold object, pieces of blue glass vessels. © ADA Zug, Res Eichenberger

The archaeologists also found fragments of tableware – so-called terra sigillata – and pieces of artfully crafted glass vessels between the walls. Another extraordinary find is a gold fragment that probably originally belonged to a piece of jewellery. Fragments of amphorae that once contained wine, olive oil and fish sauce from the Mediterranean region show that the complex was apparently linked to the extensive trade in the Roman Empire.

A villa or a temple?

“The discovery of such a large-scale building structure from Roman times is something very special in the Alpine region,” says archaeologist Christa Ebnöther from the University of Bern, describing the significance of the find in the Äbnetwald. This particularly applies to the canton of Zug, which is centrally located in Switzerland, emphasizes Gishan Schaeren from the Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology: “Roman buildings of similar dimensions were last excavated there almost 100 years ago in Cham-Heiligkreuz.”

But what could the building complex have been about? Was this a villa or a temple building? So far this remains unclear. In any case, the location offered an excellent view of the surrounding landscape. The fact that, according to previous finds, the area was inhabited several times thousands of years before the Romans also testifies to the attractiveness of this location. What exactly could have been about the Roman complex will now be the subject of further investigation. The excavation could therefore provide new insights into the Romans in what is now central Switzerland, according to the statement from the canton of Zug.

Source: Canton of Zug

Recent Articles

Related Stories