Archaeologists in Bavaria, Germany, have unearthed a 3,000-year-old wooden wishing well overflowing with more than 100 artifacts dating to the Bronze Age.
Unlike modern-day wishing wells, where people toss in coins and make a wish, the items in this well were placed there for "ritual purposes" in what is now the Bavarian town of Germering. The artifacts included more than 70 well-preserved clay vessels, including numerous decorative bowls, cups and pots that were used for special occasions and not "simple everyday crockery," according to a translated statement (opens in new tab).
Archaeologists also found more than two dozen bronze robe pins, a bracelet, four amber beads, two metal spirals, a mounted animal tooth and a wooden scoop.
"It is extremely rare for a well to survive more than 3,000 years so well," Jochen Haberstroh (opens in new tab), an archaeologist with the Bavarian State Office for Monument Conservation, said in the statement. "Its wooden walls are completely preserved on the ground and partly still moistened by groundwater. That also explains the good condition of the finds made of organic materials, which are now being examined more closely. We hope that this will provide us with more information about the everyday life of the settlers at the time."
Based on the excellent preservation of the artifacts alone, researchers think villagers likely offered the items for "cult rituals" and that they "were lowered into the well," as opposed to the modern-day act of tossing coins into the water, according to the statement.
"They were intended as sacrifices for a good harvest," Mathias Pfeil (opens in new tab), general conservator for the Bavarian State Office for Monument Conservation, said in the statement.
The December archaeological dig was conducted prior to the construction of a distribution center in the area. Since 2021, archaeologists have unearthed more than 13,500 artifacts dating to the Bronze Age and the early Middle Ages where the construction project is taking place.
Objects from the wishing well are currently being studied by researchers at the Bavarian State Office for Monument Conservation, and later this year, the artifacts will become part of the collection at the Germering City Museum of Science (opens in new tab), according to the statement.