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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.