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: Ancient.eu, Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali

Popular sites founded between 43000 BC and 2301 BC in Germany

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC. In a popular tradition g ...
Founded: 10000 BC | Location: Horn-Bad Meinberg, Germany

Hohle Fels

The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Alps that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating to the Upper Paleolithic age. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The cave consists of a tunnel of about 15 m (50 ft) and a hall holding about 6,000 m3, making the cave hall one of the largest of Southern Germany. The fi ...
Founded: 40,000-30,000 BC | Location: Schelklingen, Germany

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days. Its construction is dated to c. ...
Founded: 4900 BC | Location: Goseck, Germany

Riesenberg Barrow

Nobbin village is best known for the megalithic tomb known as the Riesenberg. The tomb was constructed of glacial erratic boulders and dates back to the New Stone Age in Rügen. It is one of the largest stone graves in North Germany and lies just a few metres from the steep coast on the bay of Tromper Wiek, immediately by the cliff top path. The trapezoidal enclosure, which originally had 53 large boundary stones, is ...
Founded: 4300-2800 BC | Location: Putgarten, Germany

Lancken-Granitz Dolmens

The Lancken-Granitz dolmens are a group of seven megalith tombs in the Lancken-Granitz municipality on Rügen. Erected during the middle Neolithic, when they were used by the Funnelbeaker culture, at least some were in use until the early Bronze Age. Three of them are encircled by solitary rocks forming either rectangles or a stone circle, one has a solitary 'guardian stone' on its eastern side. The dolmens ...
Founded: 3500-3200 BC | Location: Lancken-Granitz, Germany

Dwasieden Dolmen

The Great dolmen of Dwasieden was excavated in 1970 by Ewald Schuldt. The megalithic site of the Funnelbeaker culture was constructed between 3500 and 2800 B.C. Of the 54 kerb stones - including the four guardian stones - 41 have survived. The rectangular, roughly east-west oriented chamber at the wide end of the frame, with its western entrance and porch consists of seven supporting stones, a half stone the height of the ...
Founded: 3500-2800 BC | Location: Sassnitz, Germany

Great Dolmen of Dwasieden

The Great dolmen of Dwasieden is a megalithic site of the Funnelbeaker culture, which was constructed between 3500 and 2800 BC. The dolmen lies in a roughly northeast-southwest oriented, trapezoidal hunebed about 35 metres long and 12.5 to 7.5 metres wide. Of the 54 kerb stones - including the four guardian stones - 41 have survived. The rectangular, roughly east-west oriented chamber at the wide end of the frame, with i ...
Founded: 3500-2800 BC | Location: Sassnitz, Germany

Denghoog

Denghoog is a Neolithic passage grave dating from around 3000 BC on the northern edge of Wenningstedt-Braderup on the German Island of Sylt. The name Denghoog derives from the Söl"ring Deng (Thing) and Hoog (Hill). Denghoog is an artificial hill created in the 4th millennium BC on top of a passage grave. The hill today has a height of around 3.5 metres and a diameter at the base of around 32 metres. The interna ...
Founded: 3000 BC | Location: Wenningstedt-Braderup, Germany

Geisenklösterle

Geisenklösterle is a cave near Blaubeuren and an important site for the European Upper Paleolithic. It is one of a number of caves where early modern humans in the Aurignacian, between 43,000 and 30,000 years ago left traces of early artwork. Geisenklösterle was first archaeologically explored in 1963. Systematic excavations began in 1973, from 1974 to 2002 sponsored by the land of Baden-Württemberg. A 1983 ...
Founded: 41,000 BC | Location: Blaubeuren, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Klis Fortress

From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.

Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.

In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.

Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.