3,400-year-old man-made swimming pool in Italy may have hosted religious rituals | Smart News
An artificial swimming pool built of oak wood in what is now northern Italy likely hosted religious rituals around 3,400 years ago, during the Middle Bronze Age.
People built the dug and wood-lined pit – which is about 40 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 13 feet deep – on a high spot on a distant hill, reports Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). The basin consists of a structure that appears to have collapsed before it was completed and a second built on top of the previous one. Sediment in the pool shows that it was once filled with water. Given the location of the pit and the heavy lumber required for the construction, its installation must have been a laborious process.
Archaeologists first discovered the structure, known as Noceto Vasca Votiva, or “votive cistern”, in 2004. Now researchers using a combination of radiocarbon dating and tree ring analysis have determined when it was created. According to an article published in the journal PLOS A, the lower reservoir of the pool was built in 1444 BC. AD, while the upper reservoir was built in 1432 BC.
This discovery means that ancient humans built the pool at a time of major societal change. Through Live Scienceis Tom Metcalfe, the Terramar culture of the region, located along the Po Valley, became more socially complex in the middle of the 15th century BC.
Co-author of the study Sturt manning, an archaeologist at Cornell University, says evidence suggests the pool was intended for ritual purposes. Its location means that it was not practical as a water source for local communities, and the lack of canals around it indicates that it was not used for irrigation. Instead, the pool’s elaborate construction – and the discovery of ceremonial pots and figurines inside – indicates ritual use.
“As you would have come to this thing, as soon as you could start to see the surface, you would have, indeed, seen the edge of the earth around the sky,” Manning said. Live Science. “And as you approached it, you would have just watched the [reflected] Heaven, then you would, in a sense, have entered another world.
Manning notes that people often built labor-intensive ritual structures at times when new social and economic structures were taking hold.
“Almost every time there is a major change in social organization, there is often an episode of building up what could be described as unnecessary monuments,” he says in a declaration. “So when you get the formation of the first states in Egypt, you get the pyramids. Stonehenge marks a major change in the south of England.
Live Science reports that ceremonial water features dating back as far as the 15th century BC have been found in other places, including Crete. But the swimming pool is the only known structure of this type in northern Europe.
Before the new study, researchers could only estimate the origins of the pool between 1600 and 1300 BC. Daily sabah, Manning and his colleagues reached their much more precise estimate using a technique called “motion matching. “They matched the radiocarbon isotope models of tree rings, which each correspond to a year of growth, with data from Germany, Ireland and North America. In addition to determining when the pool was made, they found that the structure was used for several decades before being abandoned for unknown reasons.
Although the difference between the two estimates “may not seem huge,” the statement noted, “in archaeological terms, it’s like comparing the culture that invented the steam engine with that which produced the iPad.”
The ritual purposes of the swimming pool may have been linked to the importance of water in the Po Valley, where people built extensive systems of dikes and terraces to irrigate crops. Manning tells Live Science that the swimming pool was not one of those handy sprinkler systems, but adds that people may have used it to appeal to the gods responsible for water and precipitation.
“It’s more of a group activity that they think will be beneficial,” he says, “or that the gods will be happy to have done this. “