Laces in the Copper Age
The history of the find
Walter Tscholl, a pediatrician who has been interested in archaeology for years, discovered bones and ceramics at a construction site near the state road in Laces in 2007. He monitored the site for several days in consultation with the Department for Archaeological Monuments. During an on-site inspection and the subsequent excavations of the Department for Archaeological Monuments a settlement and a cemetery were discovered and examined. According to the archaeologist Hubert Steiner settlement remains as well as grave features came to light. The oldest finds undoubtedly date back to the Copper Age, the youngest to the Early Bronze Age (app. from 3,500 to 1,700 BC). Inhumation graves from the Iron Age were discovered as well.
The settlement at the Sun Mountain of Laces from the Copper Age and the Early Bronze Age
The discovered settlement probably extended up the mountain to the towering rocks. The find of a hearth and of rests of daub indicates a permanent settlement. Other indications are finds of animal bones, parts of pottery vessels and flint objects and a stone axe. The large number of flint flakes particularly suggests that these objects were produced on the spot. The settlement offered a certain level of security to the settlers resident since the Copper Age. The valley floor was a wetland. The course of the Adige river varied. The settlement was situated a bit higher at the edge of the valley.
Life at the water
The layer profile showed that the settlement was situated in immediate proximity to the river or a large lake and river landscape. The large alluvial fan where the village of Laces is situated today blocked the course of the Adige river again and again. This led to river backflooding so that the river needed a new outflow and breached the barrier. The settlement was thus repeatedly ravaged by floods and inundations of the river nearby.
Who were the settlers from Laces?
The discovery of the Laces menhir left no doubt that a dominant settler group lived in Laces in the Copper Age. The Copper Age settlement continued in the Early Bronze Age, which is unique in South Tyrol. A critical factor must have been the location in the main valley and thus the control of the „international“ exchange and trade. The Martello dagger from the same period has to be mentioned in connection with the Bronze Age settlement as well. The dagger is present all around Europe in the highest social category during this period. It represents the new technical expertise of bronze casting in its perfection. The insignium of the upper class in the Copper Age was the dagger. According to Hubert Steiner this is why there are certain indications that the settlement and the tombs in Laces refer to a socially dominant class of society.