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

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.