You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.



Neuchâtel has been the site of various habitations going back thousands of years. Due to changes in the water level of the lake many artefacts have been preserved and consequently found around Neuchâtel allowing archaeologists to trace the history of different cultures that have lived in the area.

We spent the afternoon at our local archeology museum (the Laténium).
“Archaeology explores the world of those who have fallen silent. At the Laténium, the dialogue between Man and Nature takes us from the present back to the prehistoric hunters 500 centuries ago.”
The earliest relics in the museum are from the Ice Age (40000 – 13000 BC) We met a bear and examined his rather large teeth.
E seemed rather phased by the Bear model (but not the teeth) however she didn’t blink an eye going around the Paleolithic hunting scenes where they were gutting deer. I found it pretty fascinating how much archaeologists have learnt about these ancient people. Finished idols and jewellery made out out of materials such as amber, fossils, shells or stone have allowed them to track the movements of tribes between here and Germany and trade over greater distances.
It is very interesting to see just how advanced these ancient cultures were. Here is a reconstruction of a late Bronze Age village (from 3000 years ago) and house which was built to scale outside. The fact that the houses were built on stilts meant that they could withstand the frequent flooding before the water levels were regulated. Livestock were often kept under the houses too (I guess when it wasn’t flooding).
bronze age dwellings
E loved looking at the boats. There are many wrecks still in the lake buried in the mud but some have been unearthed along with their cargos. As a lake community the boats were essential to the people that lived here and are still a big part of the culture with nearly everyone having access to a boat in the summer.
The Iron Age (800 – 1 BC) was the age of the La Tène (a celtic people). While they were never a true empire with a centralised power the Celts left a lasting imprint on all the cultures they came into contact with. We generally think of them as a waring and bloody culture but after examining the ornamental art which they left behind we get a slightly different more complex picture. This was a culture which was while violent at the same time cultured, intrepid and inventive. E loved the Jewellery and had her heart set on one particular knobbly looking ring.
Like the rest of Europe the Romans resided in Neuchâtel from 476BC – 1AD. While the whole museum had some activities for children this bit was actually fairly packed with games in comparison with mosaic puzzle, guessing game and a printing activity where you could see how the Romans printed their pottery.
After the Romans we skipped forward to the Middle Ages. A lot of the Medieval architecture is actually still intact so we can really imagine how it used to look. E had good fun reconstructing a house puzzle representing how houses were extended to accommodate growing wealth and families. The house was an imitation of one of those in the Landeron (a beautiful nearby medieval town). There were also some reconstructed patches of flooring which E decided were for walking on so she spent a good 5 minutes walking backwards and forwards on the protective glass.
middle ages
If you thought E couldn’t get much loopier then she decided to mimic a gargoyle.
gargoyles horizontal
We left the museum with a goodbye kiss for one of the reconstructed busts of a Bronze Age child (here we always do kisses to say goodbye) and skipped the café and shop to run to the playground.
bye bye
Outside there were more artefacts and reconstructions on display not to mention the theme playground on the lakefront.
Below you will see a collective grave construction from the Neolithic era. It was moved from the lake front between Auvernier & Colombier and reconstructed on site when the museum was constructed.

latenium outsideWe had a good play and explore outside and I think we will definitely have a few Laténium inspired activities this week. This is the first time I have take the kids to my favourite Neuchâtel museum and I’m glad it actually stood up to the toddler test.

Stay tuned for more!


Author: youmeandteddy

I am a stay at home mum with 2 young children living in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “Timetravel

  1. Pingback: It’s just like riding a bike | You, Me and Teddy

  2. Pingback: Pierres d’Hauterive | You, Me and Teddy

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