Goseck Circle

Goseck, Germany

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. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.

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Address

Pflaumenweg 1, Goseck, Germany
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User Reviews

Sam Thomas (11 months ago)
A wonderful piece of prehistory and insight into how much careful planning and observation humanity had reaching as far back as 7,000 years ago. Only a short walk from the parkplatz down the path and they've got quite a bit of great reading material on both this particular observatory and other sites in the nearby region as well.
Sandra Neves (2 years ago)
NEOLITHIC STRUCTURE. Amazing well maintained replica. Small but free parking nearby.
Ronny Amberg (2 years ago)
We went to the castle nearby in advance, to book the tour of the observatory and look at the exhibition. We then took the hike through the forest from the castle to the observatory. The exhibition is very informative, but not that huge. I suggest to plan 30 minutes for the exhibition, as it was no problem to revisit the exhibition after the tour. The hike should be quite relaxed when done in 30 to 45 minutes, but 15 was possible. The observatory itself is free to visit, but I recommend doing the exhibition and tour. It was 6 Euro together plus extra for cake at the castle afterwards.
Jens Tischendorf (2 years ago)
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Jens Peinemann (2 years ago)
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