Outpost of Stone Age farmers discovered

Remains of a Stone Age village in the M nsterland should provide information about the early colonization history

Up to 7.5 meters wide is the Neolithic ditch in some places. © upm / Peter Grewer
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The development step from hunter-gatherer to sedentary farmer took place in Germany regionally and temporally differently. For example, people in northwestern Germany only settled down about 6, 000 years ago, whereas in the south this happened 1, 500 years earlier. In the Münsterland, one of the first outposts of the early farmers is now at the center of a geophysical survey. This should give information about the early colonization history of the region.


6, 000 years ago, people in Westphalia settled down. They no longer lived by chance from what they rallied and hunted, but began to live ahead and form small settlements. One of these early settlements is located in a field in Coesfeld district of Munster near Nottuln-Uphoven. The main focus of the scientists of the University of Münster is on the geomagnetic investigation of a trench, which was discovered several years ago. This has a considerable width of 7.5 meters for a Neolithic fortification, a so-called earthworks.

Ground radar misses early history

"I really just wanted to find the trench again, but thanks to the ground radar, we were able to proceed so precisely that we immediately found it and were able to dig further, " explains excavation manager Christian Groer. With four students, he was able to reach an area of ​​two by ten meters within three weeks to a depth of 1.70 meters. Over 150 finds were revealed during this time. Many flints are included, but also ceramics, which allow a precise temporal classification.

Thus, the oldest finds from the period around 4, 500 BC are among the oldest Neolithic cultures in northern Germany. In Southern Germany, about 1, 500 years ago, people had settled in agrarian settlements. In Nottuln-Uphoven, on the other hand, ceramic fragments of the so-called Michelsberger culture can be found, which settled here around 4, 000 BC, then finds from the funnel cup culture, about 1, 000 years younger. display

In the late Neolithic, people's culture exploded, for example, they learned to plow the fields and invented the wheel. "Nottuln was evidently one of the earliest outposts for farmers in the north, " says Groer confidently. "But if people lived here all the time, what the ditch was used for, what the settlement may have looked like, we can not say it all yet."

No security for the Stone Age village

The loose Trockenb den are well durchl ftet, organic is often not preserved over such a long period of time. Wooden houses, if they existed, have long since disintegrated, bones have dissolved. A protective function, Groer suspects, will not have been the trench, whose course can be traced over 200 meters before disappearing into a forest at either end. The inner part of the plant, with its traces of settlement such as huts and pits, is not up, but down, the Stever, zu, explains Groer. This means that the ditch does not provide any security for a village. An explanation for this is not easy. What incentive did people have to settle here again and again?

That's what Groer wants to do in the next two years, as well as the question of when and why people in the country began to settle down. Whether they immigrated from southern Germany via the Rhine area and the Hellweg zone or whether the local hunters and collectors learned agriculture on their own initiative is a matter of controversy. It is clear that there must have been contacts and an exchange between people living far apart. So Groer found a tool made from a flint imported from Belgium.

In the following campaigns of the years 2007 and 2008, further conspicuous structures opened up by geophysics will be excavated with the help of a much larger team. The Institute for Landscape Ecology for the Reconstruction of the Old Environment is already included. Furthermore, studies on the early flora and fauna of this important time of upheaval are planned.

(Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universit t M nster, 22.05.2007 - AHE)