A team of excavators at an archaeological dig in Chur, Switzerland have unearthed a 1000-year-old double-sided mold that was used to forge Christian j
A team of excavators at an archaeological dig in Chur, Switzerland have unearthed a 1000-year-old double-sided mold that was used to forge Christian jewellery . Or was it? The unusual double-sided mold may have been used by pagans for other purposes.
Archaeologists from Graubünden ’s Archaeological Services have been digging since March in the area in and around the recently shut down Sennhof Prison. They say the tiny object dates from sometime between the 9th and 11th centuries AD. According to a report on Swiss Info the mold measures 9 x 8.5 x 3 centimeters and is made of molded clay. It is believed that the double-sided mold was used to forge up to “seven different types of Christian themed objects, including earrings and a crucifix.”
Front side of the double-sided mold recently found in Switzerland showing the crucifix and cross medallion ( Graubünden Archaeological Service )
Double-side Mold and the Early History of Swiss Christianity
While the artifact is far from ‘spectacular,’ it is the first of its type ever discovered anywhere in Switzerland. Previously similar objects have only been discovered in Bern, Basel, and Winterthur. However, this tiny archaeological treasure is proving to be of great importance in understanding the turbulent times surrounding Christianity’s arrival in Switzerland.
Christianity first came to Switzerland with Roman soldiers in the late 4th century. It was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381 AD. After the departure of the Romans, Western Switzerland remained Christian under the Burgundians, while the Alemanni people in northern Switzerland stayed pagan until the 7th century. Saint Gall (c. 550-645 AD) is remembered as the Irish monk who converted people living in and around Zurich and Lake Constance to Christianity.
Swiss Mold’s Bearded God: Christ or Odin?
The crucifixion scene depicted on the double-sided mold recently found in Switzerland is very similar to the style of a cross found at Havreholm in Denmark. And a closer examination of the symbols on Swiss clay mold are very similar to Norse symbols related to their god Odin. Many Viking traders were marked with signs of the cross to give them access to Christian trading centers, including those in Switzerland.
According to a Natmus.Dk article ‘Scandinavian Vikings did not become Christians overnight’ old Vikings regarded Christianity as an addition to their pantheon of gods. Therefore, accepting the new Christian god was relatively easy. In Viking society, at a certain stage, Christ was worshipped alongside gods like Thor and Odin. As Christianity slowly replaced the old beliefs with careful reinterpretations of traditional Norse icons and symbols, many aspects of the old gods were incorporated into the new Christian faith.
Looking closer at the clay double-sided mold discovered at Graubünden one might ask: Is that Jesus or Odin on the cross? Believe it or not, the stories of Jesus and Odin have surprising similarities.
Engravings on the back side of the artifact with the raven symbol at the top. ( Graubünden Archaeological Service )
Both Odin and Christ Were Crucified. Is This A Coincidence?
The Norse story of the god Odin being stabbed and hung from Yggdrasil, the Norse tree of life, is very similar to the story of Jesus being crucified on the cross and pierced with a spear. Essentially both spiritual beings were sacrificed by hanging and were subsequently stabbed. Both figures also spent 3 or 3×3 days in darkness (death) without any assistance from “other” deities, having sacrificed themselves for a higher purpose.
Are there any other reasons for us to suspect that the figure on the double-sided mold is not Christ? A look at the back side of the mold yields a powerful answer in the image of a raven! The 13th-century book Poetic Edda discusses ancient Norse mythology in detail. In this book there is a description of “ Huginn and Muninn ” (translated as “thought and memory,” respectively). Huginn and Muninn were Odin’s pair of ravens. They flew all over the world returning with esoteric information they then communicated to Odin.
Finding these classic Norse and Christian symbols on the same mold, as is the case with the recently found Graubünden artifact, leads to a host of new questions. How can the Norse Odin story and the Christian Jesus story be so similar? These aesthetic similarities could of course be nothing more than coincidence. However, for followers of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and American mythologist Joseph Campbell this newly discovered artifact in Switzerland is a wonderful example of “archetypes of mythology.” And these mythological archetypes may well account for the so-called “comparative coincidences” found in world religions and folklore. So all in all, an interesting find.
Top image: Closeup of the front side of double-side mold recently found in Switzerland. Source: Graubünden Archaeological Service
By Ashley Cowie