A Swedish mapmaker came across a wealth of well-preserved Bronze Age jewelry last month.
Tomas Karlsson was walking in a forest outside Gothenberg when the shine of a bronze necklace caught his eye.
Archaeologists sent to the site found a total of 50 items – including bronze necklaces, rings, and bracelets – all over 2,500 years old.
They believe that the jewelry was deliberately placed there as an offering to the gods.
Such sacred sites are usually found in rivers and streams, not in the forest, which makes the discovery all the more unique.
A piece of jewelry from the source of Bronze Age artifacts found outside Alingsås, Sweden. Orientation enthusiast Tomas Karlsson was updating a map in the forest when the shine of one of the pieces caught his eye
Karlsson, a cartographer and orienteering enthusiast, first discovered a bronze necklace and several other items while walking in a forest near Alingsås in western Sweden.
Orienteering is a competitive sport where participants navigate the wilderness using a map and compass to reach certain checkpoints faster than their rivals.
Karlsson came across the items while updating a map last month, initially thinking they were reproductions because they were in such good condition.
“It looked like scrap metal,” he said. ‘Is there a lamp here? I thought at first. It all looked so new, I thought they were fake. ‘
Pictured: Part of a chain found in the forest. Experts believe the items were placed in the crevice of a boulder, but later excavated by animals
Archaeologists have discovered a total of 50 jewelry and other artifacts, most of which belonged to a woman of high social standing in the Swedish Bronze Age.
Karlsson realized they were authentic antiquities and reported the authorities, who sent a team from the University of Gothenburg and the Cultural Development Administration to conduct a proper archaeological investigation.
They found a total of 50 bronze pieces, including very well-preserved necklaces, foot rings, chains, a clasp and pins for clothing.
They also discovered a hollow ax and a type of horse track previously only found in neighboring Denmark.
The experts date the items to between 750 and 500 BC, the latter part of the Nordic Bronze Age.
At the time, Scandinavian countries imported jewelry and fine metals from Central and Western Europe and became known for their crafts and jewelry.
“Most of the finds are bronze objects that can be associated with a woman of high status from the Bronze Age,” said archaeologist Johan Ling of the University of Gothenburg.
Archaeologists believe this is an ankle ring made of bone. Other findings included rings, a buckle and pins for holding up clothes
The treasure was discovered in Alingsas, Sweden, about 50 kilometers from Gothenburg
“They have been used to decorate various body parts, such as necklaces, bracelets and anklets, but also large needles and eyelets were used to decorate and hang various items of clothing, probably made of wool.”
Experts believe the site is a ‘depot find’ where items are placed intentionally rather than accidentally dropped.
The items seemed to have been stored in crevices between boulders, but later excavated by wild animals.
It was not uncommon for valuables to be given to the gods as ritual offerings, but such gifts are usually found in rivers and streams, not dense forest, according to Heritage Daily.
The find represents one of “ the most spectacular and largest cache finds of Sweden’s Bronze Age, ” the County Administrative Board said in a statement.
Finders of such antiquities in Sweden are usually entitled to compensation.
Karlsson told the BBC a reward “would be a nice bonus, but I don’t think it’s that important.”
“It’s nice to be a part of exploring history,” he said. “We know so little about that time because there are no written sources.”