Laténium in Neuchâtel, Switzerland is the largest museum of archeology in the country and is surrounded by a park where a number of pre-historic artefacts have been unearthed. It sits by the Lake Neuchâtel, which has also safely preserved many treasures from millennia ago in its oxygen-deprived muddy depths. The museum is a wonderful piece of architecture in itself. It derives its name from the La Tène culture that flourished in the region from 450 B.C. to 100 B.C. But within its walls one can trace the history of the people that have occupied this tiny piece of earth that we now call Switzerland from early settlements in 13,000 B.C. to the Roman occupation. I found it to be a fascinating place.
I would first like to share some images of iron artefacts that belonged to the Helvetians – the Celts of Switzerland. They now live on in the Latin version of Switzerland’s official name: Confoedoratio Helvetica (and that’s where the CH comes from).
And here’s the mystery that the title led to you believe I have to share. It has nothing to do with the Helvetii tribe and we need to go back in time to the Mid-Neolithic Age, between 5000 B.C. and 4000 B.C. From this era archeologists found in 1996, due to a fortunate accident, a site with twelve standing megaliths in a linear arrangement in the village Treytel (near Bevaix), also on the banks of Lake Neuchâtel. But there was one menhir, about 3.3 mts (11 ft) tall and weighing three tons, that was unlike any of the other thousands of menhirs found in Europe.
This one has a face, hands and ribs carved into it.
No one knows why it was done and what it represents. We have no clues. Is it some early form of representing divinity? Was it commissioned by a really narcissistic clan chief or a very suspicious rich tribesman who didn’t want to lose his menhir? We just don’t know and there’s none like it anywhere else. This is my favourite exhibit at the Laténium.
Neither of us could stop staring at each other.
This post was made as entry to this week's Cee's Black & White Challenge. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think the menhir carving could be about. I would love to know.