Paleolithic to Neolithic Period

History of Germany between 43000 BC - 2301 BC

First traces of humans

The ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The oldest complete hunting weapons ever found anywhere in the world were discovered in a coal mine in Schoningen, Germany in 1995 where three 380,000 year old wooden javelins unearthed. The Neander valley in Germany was the location where the first ever non-modern human fossil was discovered and recognised in 1856; the new species of human was named Neanderthal man. The Neanderthal 1 fossils are now known to be 40,000 years old. At a similar age, evidence of modern humans has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm. The finds include 42,000 year old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments ever found, the 40,000 year old Ice Age Löwenmensch figurine which is the oldest uncontested figurative art ever discovered, and the 35,000 year old Venus of Hohle Fels which is the oldest uncontested human figurative art ever discovered.

Mesolithic Period

The Mesolithic began with the Holocene warm period around 10000 BC and ended with the introduction of farming, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last glacial period ended have a much more apparent Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In northern Europe, for example, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands created by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviors that are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. Most of the Mesolithic findings in Germany are located in the south-western regions like Upper Rhine Valley, Black Forest and Swabian Jura.

Neolithic Period

The term Neolithic or New Stone Age is most frequently used in connection with agriculture, which is the time when cereal cultivation and animal domestication was introduced. Because agriculture developed at different times in different regions of the world, there is no single date for the beginning of the Neolithic. The agriculture first developed in Central Europe about 5,500 BCE.

In Germany one of the most important Neolithic sites is the Goseck circle, dating to approximately the 5th millennium BC, discovered by aerial photographs from the 1990s and, since 2003, regarded as the oldest observatory in Europe. It consists of a circular Henge-construction with a diameter of 75 m. It marks the beginning of a millennia-old astronomical tradition known also from the Nebra skydisk, discovered in 1999, only 25 km distant therefrom.

References:, Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali | Next historical period: Bronze Age (-2300--801)

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.