Depots are single or multiple objects, always laid down, buried or sunk at the same time, which are neither to be classified as grave goods (see also grave depot ) nor as settlement remains. In the meantime it has become established that even a single object laid down or buried or sunk is to be addressed as a depot. There are single and multi-item depots.
In medieval and modern archeology, objects hidden in houses are referred to as depot finds, because their storage was mainly intentional and at a clearly defined point in time.
Lost objects, on the other hand, are not depots, as they were not deliberately “laid down”, buried or sunk.
The following were deposited from the Neolithic to the prehistoric phase:
- In the ground: vessels ( ceramics ), stone tools ( axes , e.g. sacrificial finds from the individual grave culture from Holsteenshus on Funen , chisels ), occasional copper parts.
- In the moor: amber (raw and processed), vessels (ceramics and wood), wooden objects (including ax shafts, dugouts or troughs, stakes, plows, arrows, rods and disc wheels), a few bone and antler objects (mostly chisels), stone tools (axes , Chisels and small devices), animal and human skeletons or partial skeletons, occasionally copper.
Due to the different conservation properties of soil and moor, it can be assumed that the range of materials in soil deposits was also much broader.
- In water bodies ( wells , rivers , springs , ponds ) the finds are quite sparse, but here the subsequent silting up or bog of backwaters may have a falsifying effect: many bog finds were originally found in water. There are numerous pieces of evidence from the British Isles , especially from deposits in rivers.
In the metal times
- Depot finds with gold, silver and bronze parts, including jewelry and coins, have been well preserved. In contrast, deposits with iron material are much rarer.
In the late Middle Ages and in modern times
- In buildings, since the 13th century, deposits have been increasingly found in the false floors between the ceiling and floor of the next floor, but also in wall niches and in vaults. Here you will find numerous everyday objects, very often also otherwise seldom preserved organic materials such as textiles, leather, fur, wood or paper, which were able to survive centuries in excellent condition due to the constant temperature control and the exclusion of moisture.
Causes of the resignation
Most of the Bronze Age depots were probably created to protect against unauthorized access. However, sacred landfill reasons, especially victims, were common. In each individual case of a deposit found, it is important to consider whether sacred or profane reasons are more likely. The interpretation of the find genus is relatively difficult, but can be narrowed if the composition of the repository is known, i.e. if the completeness is guaranteed and the immediate surroundings have also been excavated. The comparison with depots and grave goods from the same era is important. These clues make it possible to classify them safely from case to case on an arc that ranges from the ritual sacrifice to the "custody find". It can neither be ruled out nor confirmed that premature deposits are votives .
Actually, every larger metal depot represents a treasure in terms of material value. What is meant here are especially those things that were buried to protect them from unauthorized access. These “safes” in the earth should actually only be temporary, later excavation should bring the “treasure” back into circulation. By chance, for example the death of the person hiding, some depots were forgotten and remained in the ground (see, for example, the Harrogate depot find ). The Iron Age ( hoard finds from Grouville ), medieval and modern coin hoards are most likely to be referred to as "treasures". This interpretation is given less often for prehistoric depots.
Raw material depots
Finds within settlements, which mainly consist of so- called broken ore , i.e. broken scrap metal (mostly bronze , in the Middle Ages silver ), are interpreted as a kind of "recycling" warehouse by craftsmen or similar. The objects were kept because of their material value and recyclability, so that they could be melted down if necessary. For better handling, i.e. for weight control and adaptation to the crucible, larger objects were shredded. The underground storage was possibly chosen for reasons of corrosion protection .
The problem is that objects have been made unusable for ritual reasons, that is, have been broken. Such victims were rarely buried in settlements.
Ritual or cultic laying down
Religiously intended deposits are likely if the site is inaccessible to new access, for example amber on the surface of a bog. Careful burial of axles arranged in a pattern in the earth by the bearers of the funnel-shaped beaker culture will also have ritual backgrounds. If regularity can be proven by comparing several simultaneous depots, a ritual background is likely. Funnel beaker culture depots contain raw materials, semi-finished or finished products made of amber and ceramics, as well as stone utensils, some of which are oversized or undersized to indicate that they were not made for profane use.
Typical examples are also the “garniture” depots of the Lusatian culture , which regularly consist of a set of women's jewelry and can be subdivided regionally, that is, into groups of costumes , thanks to their strict canonicalization . The cause of such laying down could have been rites of passage - for example a change of costume determined in the course of marriage. On the other hand, the particularities, for example the material value or the symbolic arrangement of the objects, can point to a ritual laying down (best known example: Nebra sky disk ). Furthermore, the cultic interpretation is obvious in the case of depots at prominent points of the terrain, but there is a risk of circularity here.
The reasons for ritual dumping could have been varied, "without further evidence, however, such interpretations remain speculative!" Most of the time, they are declared as sacrifices or as consecration to a higher power. Depending on the place of discovery and the landscape, very general delimitations of these “higher powers” are possible: In the case of bodies of water or bog finds, it could have been gifts to aquatic beings, in the case of buried objects, subterranean ( chthonic ) powers could have been the addressees.
Causes for the sacrifice do not have to be assigned exclusively to the religious sphere, but can for example also have been of a social , more precisely: prestigious, nature. Similar to the potlatch , landfills could also have served the reputation of the “victim”, that is, the higher the values that he discards, the more recognition he gains in his group. Self-equipment for the afterlife is also being discussed.
Another reason for the cultic “disposal” may have been the (religious) tabooing of the deposited objects, which made it necessary to remove these things from the everyday cycle. From the perspective of the person carrying out the work, this was not a matter of revealing material or similar values (as would be the case with the above-mentioned processes), but a cleaning process. A possible example of the latter would be a cult device that was only allowed to be used once, or possibly also the above-mentioned set depots.
In the Anglo-Saxon cultural area, magical dumping of shoes in buildings is known in the early modern times, which should serve to ward off disaster.
Depots are mainly known to us from soil finds, and also from moors , bodies of water and caves . Landfills can also be found within settlements (e.g. in the Young Bronze Age of Central Europe ). In the Stone Age, however, they are always out of the way, which is usually also true later. Sometimes conspicuous land markings such as rocks or springs, lakes or ponds can be found in the neighborhood; Preferences for exposed altitude (e.g. Bullenheimer Berg ) were also observed. Because of this often isolated location, finds are rarely recovered during planned archaeological excavations; more often they result from agricultural, forestry or structural measures, which at best lead to excavations.
Depot finds are documented differently for different cultures or times. The custom of creating depots reached its first peak in Central Europe during the early phase of the funnel cup culture (TBK), while the most extensive deposits in number and content date from the Young Bronze Age. It must be taken into account that a large number of earth depots from the Stone Age may have remained undetected, as the depots were plowed and ceramics such as hatchets appear as reading finds .
Depot finds in buildings are known worldwide from the late Middle Ages to the present, their frequency increases with the quality of the building construction.
Finds in the bog
From the Neolithic Age, for example, axes made of white flint , which, with a length of up to 30 centimeters and their high weight, could not have served as tools. They are carefully crafted and handed over to the moor individually or in pairs.
The ancient sources illustrate the special relationship between people in northern Central Europe and the moors. We know a number of places from the times of the emperors and the migration of peoples from Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark, where hundreds of weapons and tools, jewelry and utensils were handed over to the moor over a longer period of time, and the remains of human and animal skeletons were also observed. The neck rings from the Pre-Roman Iron Age (around 700 BC) were given over to the moor for cultic reasons. Presumably adopted from the Celtic culture, they also play an important role among the Germans. Usually they were found in several copies in a place far away from the settlement. Nothing speaks in favor of a surface marking that would have made it possible to find it later. The chemistry of the moors could also lead to changes in the material properties of metals, which prevented them from being used again.
Most of the bog finds are individual finds that have been deposited in the bog for different reasons. Although limited in their interpretability, they are often objects that have received wide attention due to their rarity and expressiveness. This includes the Bronze Age wooden plow found in a moor near Walle , which is now in the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hanover. Thanks to its good preservation, it allows conclusions to be drawn about the status of the tillage. The plow once laid in the moor by a craftsman for watering shows that the soil was only torn up and loosened, but the clod was not turned. The gold disc from Moordorf attests to extensive contacts during the early Bronze Age . The form of jewelry, which is widespread across parts of Central Europe, originally came from Ireland. The high-quality, lavishly decorated piece of jewelery may have been given to the gods in the moor. Clothing such as the magnificent coats from the Vehnemoor also found their way into the moor and provide information about fashion and weaving technology.
Vessels in the Moor moved in northern Europe from the 1940s as a new fund category in the focus of archeology. During the Second World War and a short time afterwards, when peat was excavated with a spade , clay pots were found in numerous moors in Denmark , which could be assigned to the northern group of the funnel cup culture. This group includes Denmark, northern Germany , southern Norway, and southern and central Sweden .
Carl Johan Becker gave the first overview of these bog finds in his study in 1948 (Mosefundne Lerkar). Three ornate funnel beakers, which were found in 1943 in a small moor near Hesselbjerg on the north coast of Zealand, three meters below the surface, represent the first find. In total, Becker lists over 150 sites in Denmark, 50 of them on Langeland, Funen, in the middle and northern Jutland and Bornholm and almost 100 on the East Danish islands. The analysis of around 250 vessels led to the long-standing classification of the Early Neolithic into periods (A to C). Becker writes: "If you summarize what you can say with some certainty about the sacred bog finds of the funnel cup culture, you get the picture of a uniform find category with obviously limited possibilities for variation". For example, individual or jointly deposited containers with contents that have now disappeared, presumably food or drinks, are recognized. The vessels were placed on land or in water, at least near the banks of lakes or moors. Sometimes remnants of wickerwork, stakes, sticks or even small stone settlements were found nearby. The animal bone finds, which were usually split because of the removal of the marrow, were interpreted as leftovers from meals. Michael Müller-Wille says: "There seems to be such an intimate connection between these occurrences and the apparently sacred vessel deposits that it makes sense to explain them as evidence of sacred meals".
The number of finds has increased considerably since Beckers was published. In the overview of Neolithic bog vessels on the eastern Danish islands of Zealand , Møn , Lolland and Falster published by E. Koch , around 700 vessels from more than 250 find complexes are documented instead of 100, which are distributed over around 100 sites. More than half of all vessels come from the Store and Lily Amose in western Zealand.
Iron Age weapon sacrifices
Peat sacrifices from equipment are a phenomenon in northern European archeology with great temporal depth. They can be divided into small-scale sacrifices with a civil character (from the 10th millennium BC to the 6th century AD) as well as in dumps of military equipment (from the 4th century BC to the 5th century AD) .) are divided. The character of the find was recognized within the framework of Conrad Engelhardt's investigations in Kragehul , Nydam-Moor , Thorsberger Moor and Vimose and published a little later. Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae advocated the thesis that the landfills had the character of sacrifices to the gods of war after a victory (Worsaae 1865). According to his opinion, which was shared by C. Engelhardt, the local population sacrificed the booty they had captured in a victory over foreign attackers.
As the dating of archaeological finds improved, it turned out that the objects did not come from a major sacrifice. A clarification was made possible by excavations in Illerup (from 1950) and Ejsbøl Mose (from 1955). According to the current state of research, around 50 individual victims can be distinguished in Denmark, Schleswig-Holstein and southern Sweden, the majority of which occurred between the late 1st and 5th centuries AD. New excavations in Nydam have produced patterns that have helped distinguish the character of the offerings. By the late 4th century AD, ritually destroyed entire army equipment was sacrificed. In the following period, pars-pro-toto landfills can be assumed, i.e. H. only parts of the booty were deposited. But neither genre reflects a complete event. The battlefields are unknown and only the captured equipment was sacrificed, but not the defeated, which does not correspond to Germanic custom. The prey victims are seen as evidence of military clashes in which different regions were involved. The most thorough analysis in this context was carried out on the basis of the finds from Illerup Platz A. Comparable objects in the grave inventories of the Scandinavian Peninsula and the determination of the types of wood and antlers that were used to manufacture the objects from place A indicate an army that attacked Jutland around 200 AD from Norway and western Sweden . This was doubted with reference to the contemporary graves from Himlingøje on Zealand. The Illerup A victim has been viewed as evidence of internal Danish disputes in which Norwegian and / or Swedish contingents were involved. According to another theory, Danish armies are said to have achieved a victory abroad and to have used the booty they carried back home for a triumphal procession based on Roman models. The finds at Illerup Platz A come from the Scandinavian peninsula, as the types of antlers and wood used show. It does not seem very credible that a Danish army brought 15,000 objects (probably 2-3 times that amount) home to be sacrificed in Illerup. An alternative interpretation asserts that Scandinavian warriors returned after fighting on the continent and tried to conquer land there. Even this view cannot convincingly explain the events in Illerup.
The Illerup finds allow for considerations about the army structure. Based on shield fittings (made of iron, bronze and precious metal) and other observations, a three-part hierarchy can be reconstructed, which corresponds to information in ancient written sources on the Germanic army. The observations on the army structure of Illerup can also be transferred to other bog victims and grave finds. There is no doubt that the Illerup military commanders belonged to the upper class in their regions of origin. Their chiefs and central farmhouses can be identified by the concentration of outstanding archaeological monuments and types of finds; this could be corroborated by Norwegian studies ( Zentralplatzforschung ). The socio-historical evaluation of the rune bearers leads to the observation that the specimens from the early 3rd century AD show a reference to the military leaders or the middle military rank.
Depot finds are of particular archaeological value, as in most cases they are closed finds that form the basis for the development of relative chronologies . They can also provide information about customs , costumes, techniques and social structures. Furthermore, more far-reaching historical interpretations are possible. The increase in deposits from certain epochs can be interpreted as an indication of the increase in political uncertainty - e.g. B. in the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age in Central and Southeastern Europe, where the simultaneous accumulation of fortifications also indicate a time of crisis or upheaval.
- Category: Depot find for individual depot finds
HCH Andersen: Nye undersøgelser i Ejsbøl mose. In: Sejrens triumf. North i skyggen af det romerske imperium. Udstilling catalog. National Museum 2003.
- Rainer Atzbach , "House excavation finds". A new genre of sources in archeology in the Middle Ages and modern times . Archaeological Bulletin 3, 2004, 244-250.
- Rainer Atzbach, Ingolf Ericsson (Ed.): Depot finds from buildings in Central Europe. Concealed Finds from Buildings in Central Europe . [Series: Bamberg Colloquia on the Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times 1. = Archaeological Sources on the Middle Ages 2], Berlin 2005.
- Douglas B. Bamforth, PC Woodman: Tool hoards and Neolithic use of the landscape in north-eastern Ireland . 2002
- Manfred KH Eggert : Prehistoric Archeology. Concepts and Methods . Tübingen 2002, p.?.
- Alix Hansel , Bernhard Hansel (ed.): Gifts to the gods. Treasures of the Bronze Age of Europe. Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-88609-201-1 .
- Bernhard Hänsel , Petra Weihermann: A newly acquired gold hoard from the Carpathian Basin in the Berlin Museum for Prehistory and Early History. In: Acta Praehist. et Arch. 32, 2000, pp. 7-30.
- Gerald Görmer: Neolithic Depots in Southeast and Central Europe and South Scandinavia. Comments on their interpretation. In: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 46, 2005, pp. 449–457.
- Gerald Görmer: Bronze Age Depots in Central Europe and their Interpretation . In: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 47, 2006, pp. 289–298.
- Svend Hansen : Studies on the metal dumping during the older urn field times between the Rhône Valley and the Carpathian Basin. (= University research on prehistoric archeology, Vol. 21) Bonn 1994.
- Svend Hansen: About Bronze Age depots, hoards and individual finds: Do we need new terms? A comment. In: Archäologische Informations 25, 2002, pp. 91–97. doi: 10.11588 / ai.2002.1 & 2.13247
- Stefanie Martin-Kilcher, Heidi Amrein, Beat Horisberger: The Roman gold jewelry from Lunnern (ZH). A 3rd century hoard and its history . (= Collectio Archaeologica 6). Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-0340-0908-9 , p. 368.
- Nils Müller-Scheeßel: Glossary Keyword “Depot / Deposits” . In: Uta von Freeden, Sigmar von Schnurbein (Hrsg.): Traces of the millennia . Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1337-2 , p. 482.
- Michael Müller-Wille : sacrificial cults of the Teutons and Slavs . Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-8062-1443-3 .
- Klavs Randsborg: Wetland Hoards. In: Oxford Journal of Archeology 21, 2002, pp. 215ff.
- Manfred Rech: Studies on depot finds of the funnel cup and single grave culture of the north 1979.
- Christoph Sommerfeld: Equipment money sickle. Studies on the monetary structure of Bronze Age hoards in northern Central Europe . (= Prehistoric research 19). Berlin 1994.
- The victim find from Holstenshus Fyn ( memento of October 24, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (in Danish)
- Sacrifice find (in Danish)
- Bronze Age landfills (by Stefan Winghart)
- On the question of Bronze Age weapons dumping in the new federal states and Poland ( PhD project by Agné Çivilyté, completed in 2003)
Presentation of individual depots
- The Middle Bronze Age depot of Moosbruckschrofen (Museum Fließ)
- The Hallstatt bronze depot from Fließ (Museum Fließ)
- The late Bronze Age casting mold depot in Heilbronn-Neckargartach ( Memento from January 12, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (article at archaeologische.de)
- The Anklam coin treasure - the most important archaeological find in Pomerania from the time of the Thirty Years War
- Neck ring finds on the Danish island of Zealand
- Nils Müller-Scheeßel: Glossary, keyword “Depot / Deposits” . In: Uta von Freeden, Sigmar von Schnurbein (Hrsg.): Traces of the millennia . Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1337-2 , p. 482; Gerald Görmer: Neolithic Depots in Southeast and Central Europe and South Scandinavia. Comments on their interpretation. In: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 46, 2005, pp. 449 ff.
- Manfred KH Eggert: Prehistoric Archeology: Concepts and Methods . Tübingen 2002, p. 78.
- Rainer Atzbach , "House excavation finds". A new genre of sources in archeology in the Middle Ages and modern times . In: Archäologisches Nachrichtenblatt 3, 2004 pp.? - ?; Rainer Atzbach, Ingolf Ericsson (Ed.): Depot finds from buildings in Central Europe. Concealed Finds from Buildings in Central Europe (= Bamberg Colloquia on the Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times 1 = Archaeological Sources on the Middle Ages 2). Berlin 2005.
- according to Manfred Rech : Studies on depot finds of the funnel cup and single grave culture of the north 1979.
- G. Cooney: The gift of stone - the study of Irish stone axes . In: Archeology Ireland 6, 4, 1992, pp. 24-27.
- Rainer Atzbach, Ingolf Ericsson (Ed.): Depot finds from buildings in Central Europe. Concealed Finds from Buildings in Central Europe (= Bamberg Colloquia on the Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times 1 = Archaeological Sources on the Middle Ages 2). Berlin 2005, pp. 10-14.
- Gerald Görmer: Bronze Age Depots in Central Europe and their Interpretation . In: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 47, 2006, p. 289.
- Gerald Görmer: Neolithic Depots in Southeast and Central Europe as well as South Scandinavia. Comments on their interpretation. In: Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 46, 2005, p. 449.
- June Swann in: Rainer Atzbach, Ingolf Ericsson (ed.): Depot finds from buildings in Central Europe. Concealed Finds from Buildings in Central Europe (= Bamberg Colloquia on the Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times 1 = Archaeological Sources on the Middle Ages 2). Berlin 2005, pp. 115-120.
- Carl Johan Becker: Mosefundne lerkar fra yngre stenalder. Studier over tragtbægerkulturen i Danmark. Gyldendal, Copenhagen 1948, p. 280.
- Carl Johan Becker: Mosefundne lerkar fra yngre stenalder. Studier over tragtbægerkulturen i Danmark. Gyldendal, Copenhagen 1948, p. 8.
- Conrad Engelhardt: Thornberg Mosefund. Copenhagen 1863; ders .: Nydam Mosefund 1859–1863. Copenhagen 1865; ders .: Kragehul Mosefund. Copenhagen 1867; ders .: Vimose found. Copenhagen 1869.