Archaeologists Uncover Mysterious Monument in Eastern France

Archaeologists conducting a series of excavations at a site in eastern France have uncovered a massive prehistoric monument consisting of three circular interlocking enclosures, including a horseshoe-shaped structure. The finding was unearthed alongside numerous artifacts and a gravesite spanning several historic periods as old as the Neolithic Age.

Led by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), a public research institution established under the direction of the French state, the project took place in Marliens, a community located less than 15 miles from the city of Dijon. 

In a statement, researchers called the discovery of the monument “unprecedented” and said that there is “currently no comparison” to the rounded structure.

With a total surface area measuring approximately 646,000 square feet, the mysterious monument features a layer of gravel in two of the enclosures situated on the sides, suggesting the prior existence of a defensive barrier.

“​​The dating still remains uncertain; however, the only artifacts discovered in the ditches correspond to cut flints which would suggest a chrono-cultural attribution to the Neolithic period,” INRAP researchers wrote, adding that radiocarbon analyses that will provide more precise chronological measurements are currently underway.

Hyperallergic has reached out to INRAP for comment. 

While the team has not yet pinpointed the age of the circular structure, nearby findings have led them to believe that the monument was occupied from the Neolithic Age (around 7000 to 1700 BCE) to the first Iron Age (around 1200 BCE to 550 BCE). Inside the rounded construction, archaeologists discovered a bundle of seven flint arrowheads, a pair of archer’s arm guards, a flint lighter, and a dagger made of a copper alloy that they suspect originate from several historic eras, including the Bell Beaker period approximately 4,500 years ago.

The researchers also unearthed several wells with clay-lined bottoms that they believe date to the early Bronze Age, a necropolis with funeral urns holding cremations and jewelry pieces, and another gravesite encompassing around 64,500 square feet. Consisting of five rounded enclosures constructed between 1500 BCE and 1300 BCE, the gravesite contained the remnants of a funeral pyre and burials. Archaeologists were able to approximate this second necropolis’s age based on five copper-alloy pins, an amber-beaded necklace, and ceramic shards found in the enclosures.

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