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Field name
Site: Ardez [from first object]
Coordinates: 46° 46' 26.40" N, 10° 12' 18.00" E [from first object]
Objects found here:


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Topography and interpretation

Near to Ardez is apart from Scuol and the here situated findspots Scuol-Russonch, Scuol-Munt Baselgia and Scuol-Motta Sfondraz as well as apart from Ardez-Chanoua the findspot Suotchastè.
Suotchastè is located on the castle hill Steinsberg, more precisely at the southern foot of the hill. The prehistoric site was situated on a small west-facing lynchet. Caduff notices the unlikely position of the site because it is located directly under a perpendicular steep rock (cp. Caduff 2007: 10). On the almost entire hill were found prehistoric and medieval remains.
Caduff interprets the site as settlement (cp. Caduff 2007: 10), although the site Ardez-Chanoua near to Ardez-Suotchastè is also considered a settlement.

Excavation and results

In consequence of construction works (enlargement of the principal road in Ardez) an occupation layer was discovered by Armon Planta on 26 June 1969. Two days later Planta discovered also two ceramic fragments and several bones. Afterwards a rescue excavation over seven and half weeks was ordered. The entire campaign was directed by Armon Planta and Lüzi Stupan.
According to the excavation executed in Suotchastè the location was populated from the Middle Bronze Age, namely the Laugen-Melaun culture from the 13th to the 6th centuries BC, to the first half of the Late Iron Age, esp. presented by the numerous Fritzens-Sanzeno pottery. An exact stratigraphic determination related to the findspot Suotchastè is not possible due to mixture of the particular layers (cp. Caduff 2007: 9). But related to the numerous findings of pottery the findspot Suotchastè dates to the timeframe from the Middle Bronze Age to the first half of the Late Iron Age. Esp. related to the Fritzens-Sanzeno pottery the findings, e.g. bowls type Fritzens with radial eyes decoration (cp. e.g. Caduff 2007: pl. 13. 194, pl. 13.196) or compressed bowls with S-shaped profile and stamped striae-decoration (cp. e.g. Caduff 2007: pl. 14.206, pl. 14 208), suggest a dating to La Tène A as well as to La Tène B. Caduff prefers a dating to La Tène B (cp. Caduff 2007: 16).
In addition to the pottery only few metal objects like fragmentary fibulae or handles were found. Moreover were discovered several bones as well as antlers. Some of these objects can be interpreted as handles of implements or keys (cp. Caduff 2007: 55–56). E.g. one antler piece is a semifinished product of a handle (cp. Caduff 2007: 86 [No. 373], pl. 26.373) which is evocative of a handle with characters from Valemporga. A perforated bone, probably the metapodium of sheep (Ovis orientalis aries) resp. goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), reminds of the various bones from the Ganglegg (cp. Caduff 2007: 87 [No. 381], pl. 27.381).

Inscribed objects

In the context of the Raetic inscriptions the most important finding is a ceramic fragment with alphabetical characters. This ceramic fragment was found in sector "Feld 3" which is situated between the northern and the southern rock.
Furthermore two antlers, not unlike those found in Magrè or in Montesei di Serso, bear also characters (intentional scratches in shape of strokes, St. Andrew's crosses and asterisks), where the interpretation of these characters are uncertain (cp. Risch 1989: 1580; Caduff 2007: 55). Both objects are now preserved at the Rätisches Museum Chur. The first of these antlers is an antler piece with visible branch; highly, almost overly smoothed. But the antler piece is not further worked. Almost in the middle area of the antler piece the characters. Cp. Caduff 2007: 86 [No. 371], pl. 26.371. The antler is inventoried with number P 1973.2838. The second antler piece, probably part of the branch, is worked: both ends are intentionally sawed through; the surface is carefully smoothed. The cross section is octogonal, on the narrow end however rectangular. In the area of this end the characters. Cp. Caduff 2007: 86 [No. 372], pl. 26.372. The antler is indicated with the inventory number P 1973.2837. Both antlers were found in a not further determinable landfill of material (cp. Caduff 2007: 90, pl. 2). The antlers and also the ceramic fragment were first mentioned by Risch (cp. Risch 1984: 28, fig. 9, 10a and 10b). Despite the doubtful script-character of the incisions, in the recently released study about the Raetic Inscriptions by Marchesini both antlers with characters were included into the corpus of Raetic Inscriptions. The first antler piece preserved at the Rätisches Museum Chur with the inventory number P 1973.2838 is listed with siglum "MLR 6" (cp. MLR: 27 [MLR 6] with drawing (= Risch 1984: fig. 10a). The second antler also kept at the Rätisches Museum Chur with the inventory number P 1973.2837 is indicated with siglum "MLR 7" (cp. MLR: 28 [MLR 7] with drawing (= Risch 1984: fig. 10b). An autopsy was not effected. As mentioned above, the status of the incised characters of these antlers is doubtful. They are made intentionally, but an interpreation is uncertain. More likely they can be considered as non-script.

Significance of the site

Related to the various Fritzens-Sanzeno-pottery found in Suotchastè as well as to the alphabetical characters which the above-mentioned ceramic fragment bears, moreover with regard to the cultural area of the Lower Engadine and the context to the Fritzens-Sanzeno-culture, it can be stated that the region of the Lower Engadine and therefore also Ardez as well as Suotchastè indicate the most western area and places of the central area of the Fritzens-Sanzeno-culture (cp. Caduff 2007: 16 and again 19).



Caduff 2007 Bruno Caduff, "Ardez-Suotchastè. Eine urgeschichtliche Fundstelle im Unterengadin (GR)", Jahrbuch der Historischen Gesellschaft von Graubünden (= 137. Jahresbericht der Historischen Gesellschaft) (2007), 5–98.