In the beginning

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When was the beginning?

When did this exact, efficient people begin to dominate the land round the lake?

The history books say there have been people in Zürich since Roman times. But the prehistory books? They had to be re-written after a chance find somewhere on the city’s outskirts.

If you sail along the river past the Rathaus, or city hall, inland from the great lake and keep going, eventually you will find it: Zürich Altstetten. The old maps show it as open fields, way outside the city. And so it was for aeons.

These days, from what I can gather, it is just another district of the city, and not the most salubrious one at that. But when the city was growing fast, and the advent of the great iron horse brought expansion and prosperity, they built a station at Altstetten.

They were digging the foundations to the station, in 1906, when workers came upon the most extraordinary find.

A great gold bowl. A bowl made of one single sheet of solid gold, the like of which has never been found before or since. It weighs 910 grammes; the heaviest gold vessel ever found in such archaeological circumstances.

The decoration, intricate, regular, clean-lined, speaks volumes of its creator. This bowl was made by a measured artist who knew the beauty of the exact, and the mystery of the spiritual. The background is tiny bosses, created from inside outwards. And the foreground? half-moons, suns or full moons, and the deer who must have run the fields and forests thousands of years ago.

A solid-gold sheet bowl created by sky-worshipers which dates, archaeologists surmise, back to 1200BC and the end of the Bronze Age.

When was the beginning?

Perhaps we’ll never know.

But the next stage is as vivd a successor to that golden bowl as you can imagine.


15 thoughts on “In the beginning

  1. SidevieW put it well:…world’s best place to hide your gold.” How beautiful that bowl is and its craftsmanship! Coin of the realm, Kate! Stories & Gold – yes!

  2. I always wonder about the person/people who create such treasures. How do they end up forgotten for a thousand years? I often wonder if we will leave anything worth finding.

  3. Does it mean ‘old town;? My German is shakier than my English! In reply to Andra, we shall leave fridges, nappies and plastic and my, will they wonder what strange rituals we once performed! 😉

  4. I too love the synergy of this lavish ancient gold treasure coming from the modern world’s wealth repository. I never knew … really glad to learn there’s something really, really old about Zurich – I have a much warmer feeling about the city now! 🙂

  5. What a beautiful discovery. Since I haven’t traveled great distances, so much of what I know about a land is either from independent reading or museums. I can’t recall ever being introduced to archaeology or artifacts from Zurich. It pleases me to see something this beautiful and inspiring. There’s so much left to discover!

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