Enormous Neolithic Monument In The Shape Of Two Horseshoes Discovered In France

Published May 17, 2024

After uncovering this 646,000-square-foot behemoth in Marliens, archaeologists said, "This type of monument seems unprecedented and currently no comparison has been possible."

Neolithic Monument In Marliens

Jérôme Berthet/INRAPAerial view of the horseshoe-shaped monument discovered near a gravel pit in Marliens, France.

In April 2024, archaeologists unearthed an unprecedented prehistoric monument in Marliens, France. This monument features two enormous horseshoe-shaped structures surrounding a circular one, similar to a bowtie.

The monument, as well as a nearby necropolis, contain artifacts and weapons from several historical periods, including the Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, and the Early Iron Age.

Now, researchers are studying the artifacts and using radiocarbon dating techniques to determine the age of this site while also hoping to unlock the truth about its mysterious purpose.

The Shocking Discovery Of The Prehistoric Horseshoe Monument In Marliens

Gravel Pit In Marliens

Jérôme Berthet/INRAPThe Marliens gravel pit near where archaeologists discovered the monument.

Archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) recently excavated 15 acres in Marliens, France in preparation for a gravel pit extension project.

The team then discovered an unprecedented monument in the approximate shape of a bowtie. Its center featured a circle flanked by two horseshoe-shaped structures. On its left side, the monument was fragmented, leaving the structure open.

Both sides of the structure had a layer of gravel, pointing to the existence of a palisade at some point. Soil and rock layers show that the structure was built all at once.

Alongside the structure, archaeologists discovered a handful of artifacts from various historical periods. The earliest were a bundle of seven flint arrowheads, two archer’s wrist braces, a flint lighter, and a copper alloy dagger from the Early Bronze Age (2800–1800 B.C.E.).

Neolithic Artifacts From France

Pauline Rostollan/INRAPObjects belonging to Neolithic archers that were found in and around the Marliens monument.

From the Middle Bronze Age (1500 and 1300 B.C.E.), archaeologists discovered copper alloy pins, 40 amber beads, and ceramics. Early Iron Age (1200 B.C.E.) artifacts included urns and jewelry.

Lingering Questions About This Neolithic Monument’s Purpose

French Necropolis

Jérôme Berthet/INRAPA necropolis near the monument containing artifacts from the Early Iron Age.

With artifacts in hand, archaeologists are hoping to discover the purpose of the monument.

So far, the only remaining evidence of a settlement includes shallow pits that may have served as wells. Researchers discovered seeds, fruits, and nuts preserved in the clay of these pits which may shed light on how humans once used the site.

Additionally, researchers believe they’ve uncovered a Middle Bronze Age necropolis near the site. While human bones would not have survived centuries in this acidic soil, remnants of a pyre remain.

Archaeologists also discovered evidence that the area served burial purposes, including Iron Age cremation urns. In total, researchers have found six cremation urns and jewelry offerings as well as iron oxide used to light fires at a necropolis 400 meters away.

Some of these artifacts likely belonged to the Bell Beaker culture that emerged in Europe over 4,500 years ago, according to INRAP.

Currently, researchers are awaiting results from radiocarbon testing to date several artifacts and to uncover more information about the prehistoric Europeans behind this baffling site.

After reading about this Neolithic monument, dive into the story of how the ancient Egyptian Pyramids were built. Then, read about nine ancient mysteries that still perplex historians to this day, as well as the stories behind some of the world’s oldest structures.

Amber Morgan
Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Morgan, Amber. "Enormous Neolithic Monument In The Shape Of Two Horseshoes Discovered In France." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 17, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/neolithic-monument-marliens. Accessed June 22, 2024.