Well-preserved wooden stakes recovered by scuba divers have revealed the Swiss city of Lucerne to be some 2000 years older than had previously been thought.
Lucerne lies in the German-speaking part of central Switzerland on the lake that shares its name. Last year, plans to dredge the thick lake mud to lay a water pipeline offered underwater archaeologists their first opportunity to investigate beneath the surface, and in December a team of divers from Zurich began work on behalf of the Canton of Lucerne.
Working through to February at depths of only 3-4m, the divers checked and documented the trenches being dredged. They found traces of a prehistoric settlement in the form of some 30 timber pilings and five ceramic shards that analysis showed to be 3000 years old.
The evidence of the building of stilt houses means that a city usually described as “mediaeval” in fact originated in the Bronze Age.