History

Mysterious Items Found in 2000-Year-Old Cooking Pot

The pot held 22 oil lamps decorated with images on a moon goddess and erotic scenes.

Swiss archaeologists have unearthed a mysterious pot filled with bronze coins and oil lamps, each decorated with images including gladiators and erotic scenes.

Found during construction work in Windisch, in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau, the cooking pot is believed to have been buried almost 2,000 years ago, when Aargau was home to the Roman legion camp Vindonissa.

According to the archaeologists, the pot is a typical cooking vessel known to have been used by the soldiers that stationed there.

What makes the finding unique, however, is the pot's contents. Inside the vessel there was a total of 22 oil lamps, each decorated with an image of the moon goddess Luna, a gladiator, a lion, a peacock and an erotic scene.

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On each lamp, someone carefully placed a bronze coin. Most of the coins date from 66-67 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. Each coin was of very low value, and was likely used in a symbolic gesture.

"What astonished us was the quantity and the combination of coins and lamps," Aargau cantonal archaeologist Georg Matter said in a statement.

The pot also contained charred bone pieces. Analysis showed they were animal bones, ruling out that the vessel was used as a urn for human remains.

Matter admitted the pot remains a mystery as no similar finding has been unearthed so far.

"We suspect that this is a ritual burial. But we can only puzzle about the thoughts and intentions behind it," Matter said.

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