Did You Know…

…that You Can Use Microscopes Lying Down?

Archeologists prefer not to touch or change find spots before they have been thoroughly documented. It is easy to photograph large objects, but what do you do about tiny artifacts such as slivers or small pieces of jewelry? These can be examined in situ with the help of stereo microscopes. Archaeologists do this by lying on their stomachs and moving the suspended microscope slowly over the find.

This is exactly what was required for one of the most spectacular finds in Germany in recent years: Last year in the area around the early Celtic chieftain’s residence at Heuneburg, Germany, archeologists from the State Office for Heritage Management of Baden-Württemberg came across a four-by-five-meter burial chamber from the 6th century B.C. The most unusual thing about this find was that the oak floor and burial offerings made of organic materials were perfectly preserved thanks to ground water and moisture in the soil.

Initial investigations soon revealed that a conventional, on-site excavation of the grave was not advisable. For this reason, the entire burial chamber was removed in one piece in order to analyze it under laboratory conditions. The ZEISS DV4 stereo microscope is being used to identify, excavate, and document the delicate objects. The microscope’s light guides are integrated in the body of the microscope so that the whole area can be examined with the aid of a special flexible assembly. Both the artifacts this procedure brings to light as well as their historical significance will all be revealed next year in Stuttgart, where these grave and burial offerings will be on display as part of the exhibition “The World of the Celts.Centers of Power – Artistic Treasures.”

1 November 2011


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