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Bronze Age Ritual Pool

Around 3,500 years ago, members of a culture known as the Terramare built a large artificial pool on a hilltop near the northern Italian town of Noceto. The Terramare were extremely successful farmers, and archaeologists believe the pool, which was filled with a wide range of artifacts, was a ritual site intended to celebrate the culture’s agricultural successes. (Credit for all images: Ministero della Cultura)

  • The Noceto pool measured roughly 40 feet long, 23 feet wide, and at least 16 feet deep. It was built of 26 vertical wooden poles held in place with two networks of horizontal beams that crossed the pool perpendicular to each other. A pair of long beams arranged diagonally buttressed the four corner poles. More than 240 interlocking boards held in place by the vertical poles lined the pool’s earthen walls.
  • Excavated layers of sediment in the Noceto pool did not contain indicators of domestic activity, such as ash and charcoal, but instead sediments of the sort that would be found in a lake. This led archaeologists to conclude they had uncovered an artificial pool.
  • Archaeologists discovered that an earlier, somewhat larger, tank had been built at the site, but collapsed before it was completed. Based on a dating method called tree-ring radiocarbon wiggle matching, the researchers determined that the earlier tank was built around 12 years before the later one, which held up for millennia.
  • The Noceto pool contained a wide range of offerings, including vases, wooden tools, and deer antlers.
  • These clay vessels are among the many artifacts excavated from the Noceto pool, which included around 150 complete vases and 25 miniature vessels of a type that would have been highly valued and only used for special occasions.
  • Among the offerings excavated from the Noceto pool is this partial ox cranium and horns.

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