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Archaeologists in Germany recently found a 3,000-year-old well near Munich with a treasure trove of items that may date back to the Bronze Age. The wishing well, which researchers believe was used for rituals, contained finely crafted ceramics, jewelry, and other objects, according to the Smithsonian. The well was discovered during an excavation in the area to prepare for the construction of a distribution center.
Well, Well, Well…
Located in Germering in Bavaria, over 70 wells have been uncovered by archaeologists, according to the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection. These wells were created from the Bronze Age to early Middle Ages and were used to supply water to the area. The wishing well in particular is unlike the other wells in that it included bronze clothing pins; ceramic bowls, cups, and pots; metal spires; amber beads; a bracelet, and other items.
The wishing well had an initial depth of 16 feet, which indicates groundwater levels had dropped and the area may have been coping with a drought. Researchers believe people may have been lowering items into the well and wishing for good fortune. Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection, explained, “Even today, fountains have something magical about them for many people. They drop coins in the hope that their wishes will be granted.”
It is unclear exactly what the people’s mindset was 3,000 years ago; however, the ritual may have been “intended as sacrifices for a good harvest.”
A Well-Preserved Well
The preservation of the well and its contents for such an extended period is notable, according to archaeologist Jochen Haberstroh from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection. The walls of the well are still intact and partially moistened from the groundwater. The team plans on analyzing the artifacts to learn more information about the people who lived during the Bronze Age. In total, approximately 13,500 items from the area are contained at the local museum, the ZEIT+RAUM.
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Water was integral for ancient civilizations when it came to surviving and was an agricultural necessity. As a result, water sources, such as wells, were often sanctified or ritualized. People would add stones to form wells around local springs and use them for gathering places, according to Ancient Origins. These places were sacred for Germanic and Celtic civilizations, who were known to put wooden statutes representing spiritual guards alongside them. They also made “sacrificial offerings” by burying the armor of their enemies into bogs and other water sources.
European folklore mentions wishing wells in which people would toss gold coins into them to achieve their desires. Even today, the centers of many European towns contain fountains that residents and visitors fill with coins. The theory is that it is good luck to throw a coin into a well or fountain. However, many archaeologists theorize that ancient people accidentally discovered the benefits of copper and silver, which can kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms. Throwing coins into a well would, in turn, make it safer to drink the water (which is good fortune).
By Noelle Talmon, contributor for Ripleys.com
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