Saxony-Anhalt: excavations at the ring sanctuary Pömmelte: grave street discovered

After five years, the excavations at the Pömmelte ring sanctuary have come to an end with surprising finds.

Saxony-Anhalt: excavations at the ring sanctuary Pömmelte: grave street discovered

After five years, the excavations at the Pömmelte ring sanctuary have come to an end with surprising finds. Among other things, the largest Early Bronze Age settlement in Central Europe was uncovered on a total of 133,600 square meters. How does it go from here?

Pömmelte (dpa/sa) - Archaeologists have surprisingly discovered a "grave road" over 4000 years old at the ring sanctuary in Pömmelte (Salzlandkreis). "Across almost 30 meters, at least 15 body graves of the early Aunjetitz culture are lined up like a string of pearls," said project manager Franziska Knoll from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology on Wednesday. Archaeologists assume that the burials were based on a path that led out of the settlement. "With that, we would actually have reached the end of the mega-settlement in the east, too," said the project manager.

Excavations have been going on in the areas around the ring sanctuaries of Pömmelte and Schönebeck since 2018. "With well over 100 longhouse floor plans on an area the size of around 15 football pitches, we have uncovered the largest Early Bronze Age settlement in Central Europe," said state archaeologist Harald Meller. "That was not foreseeable at the beginning of the work."

Another surprise came from a production area that was around 4,500 years old. Even before the Bell Beaker people built the ring sanctuary around 4,350 years ago, the site was evidently not only occupied by the Corded Ware people, who were hundreds of years older, with a square predecessor monument and imposing burial mounds, but also used to store and process food.

"The double-chamber pit furnace could have been used as a kiln," said Knoll. For example, pre-germinated grain could be dried here. Malt is still made from barley today. "Beer was not common, at least in these latitudes, but malt is sweet and people at the end of the Stone Age must have liked it too. Sugar was still a long way from arriving in Europe," said the archaeologist.

The kiln is located in the middle of a field of about 20 empty pits with diameters and depths of up to 1.50 meters. "This is where the grain was apparently stored or watered in order to then germinate it," said Knoll.

In the five years of excavation activity, tens of thousands of finds came to light - mainly sherds, bones, stones and charcoal. "Especially the inconspicuous remains of charcoal are important, not only to reconstruct the landscape, but also to find out what people ate back then and what they used to build their houses," said Knoll.

Its use as a "cult place" began with the Corded Ware culture a good 4800 years ago and ended 3900 years ago with the early Bronze Age Aunjetitz culture, whose most important find is the Nebra sky disc. The place was probably abandoned because the center of power in Aunjetice had shifted to the south, as evidenced by the rich princely tombs.

With the completion of the excavations, the foundation stone was laid for the subsequent further scientific evaluation. "The spectacular findings of recent years offer great potential for further tourist development from Pömmelte to Schönebeck," said State Parliament President Gunnar Schellenberger.

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