Archaeologists excavating the site of an ancient Roman battle in the Oberhalbstein Alps have discovered hoard of late Bronze Age metal discovered containing over 80 bronze objects weighing a total of 20 kg (44 lb). Found in a field south of a prehistoric settlement on the Transalpine trade route, the hoard dates back to the 12th or 11th century BC. This is the largest and most important Bronze Age hoard ever found in the canton of Graubünden.
Hundreds of Roman sling bullets, nails, an ornate dagger, and other military equipment have been discovered at a site near the present-day municipality of Sources since 2003. A huge amount of shells, weapons and equipment from the Augustan era identifies it as the site of large-scale military operations between the local tribes of the Suanetes and three Roman legions led by the future emperor Tiberius and his brother Drusus in 15 BC. It is the only confirmed Roman battlefield in Switzerland. In 2008, the remains of a Roman military summer camp they set up to control the strategically important Septimer Pass were discovered.
In 2021, the ADG launched a new research project to systematically study the landscape for remnants of the conflict between Rome and the Suanetes. A Bronze Age hoard was discovered as part of this project. The Graubünden Archaeological Survey (ADG) unearthed the treasure in October 2022 after a metal detector volunteer surveying the site alerted the team to its presence. The items were tightly packed in a small, well-defined hole, indicating that they had been placed in a wooden box that was wrapped in leather and buried in the ground.
Most of the metal objects are cast cakes, pieces of raw copper that were used in the manufacture of metal objects in the Alpine region. Other artifacts include sickles, axes, saw fragments, and jewelry. They were intentionally damaged, “killed” before being buried as an offering.
The sensational discovery of what is by far the most extensive and important repository is a great moment for Grisons archeology. “The comprehensive scientific study that follows this discovery, which is unique in our area, will certainly provide far-reaching conclusions about the cultural, economic and landscape history of the late Bronze Age,” said Thomas Reitmeier, an archaeologist from the canton of Graubünden. “It also highlights the potential for large-scale archaeological research and collaboration with volunteer researchers.