Single grave culture

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Single grave culture
Age : Late Neolithic
Absolutely : 2800 BC BC to 2300 BC Chr.

Poland, the Baltic States, southern Scandinavia, northern Germany

Curly cups, beaded pots, giant cups, amphorae, bowls, battle axes

The individual grave culture (EGK; Danish Enkeltgravskultur ) lasted from 2800 to 2300 BC. It belongs to the cord ceramic groups of the end Neolithic .

Distribution area

The area of ​​individual grave culture extended from southern Scandinavia through Denmark , northern Germany and Poland to the Baltic states .

Chronological cultural integration

Distribution area, here "Corded Ware"

The EGK is preceded in the north by the northern group of the funnel beaker culture (TRB) from around 4200 to 2800 BC. Chr.

In the Middle Elbe-Saale area, the EGK belongs to the transition phase between the late Neolithic and the early Bronze Age, the end of the Neolithic . Here it occurs at the same time as the older Saaleschnur ceramics , the Schönfelder Nordgruppe and the bell beaker culture (GBK; 2500 to 2000 BC). On influences of the bell beaker culture z. B. include squat mugs, line bundle decorations and herringbone patterns. Influences of the Aunjetitz culture (cone cups) show cup shapes with a hanging belly.

In the north it passes into the late Neolithic (SN). In the north-east, further ceramic groups join with the Oderschnurkeramik in the Oder estuary and the boat ax culture in southern Sweden.

Research history


The name single grave culture was introduced in 1892 by Johanna Mestorf . In it the differentiation of the EGK, with its individual burials in or under burial mounds, from the previous funnel cup culture (TBK) with its collective burials in megalithic graves becomes clear.


In Jutland, three phases can be distinguished: In the time of the burial the graves are deepened, in the time of the burial ground they are at ground level and in the time of the burial above ground level. Frequent reburials in the hills allow horizontal stratigraphic statements. Certain types of battle axes can be assigned to these phases , the division of which into twelve types by the later Danish rigsantikivar PV Glob in 1944 even applied to the entire field of corded ceramics .


The representatives of the individual grave culture are peasant cultures that are determined by agriculture and animal husbandry. Mainly emmer , einkorn and barley were grown.

In a cup of the oldest single grave culture from a sloping hill by Refshøjgård in the parish of Folby in East Jutland , a crust that had not been charred was examined using pollen analysis , conventional microscopy and scanning electron microscopy . The starch granules identified indicate beer . Since barley was predominantly cultivated in the early EGK, it follows that the drinking vessel in all probability probably contained a beer brewed from barley. The analysis result indicates that no honey or mead was mixed with the beer .

Material culture

Ceramics of the single grave culture


  • Curly beakers usually with an evenly decorated neckline or grooved neck
  • Bead pots
  • Giant mug
  • Amphorae
  • Bowls
Axes, hatchets and club heads of the individual grave culture

Battle axes:

  • Classic ax types A1 and A2, neck pulled down
  • Degenerate A axes types A3 and A4
  • C axes
  • G axes
  • H axes
  • K axes
  • Faceted axes
  • Tenon wedges

Firestone appliances:

  • Arrowheads
  • Flint axes

Grave and funeral customs

Initially there were almost only individual burials as body burials and rarely as cremations, in stark contrast to the previous funnel cup culture (TBK). The most common for the area of ​​distribution is initially the grave sunk into the ground and vaulted by a flat hill, next to it there are hilly flat graves . In North Jutland , wooden wooden chamber graves ( Danish træbyggede gravkiste ), grave boxes and circular graves ( Danish Cirkelgrave ) are added later.

A principle of this North Jutian form was the reusability and the associated transition of initially only parts of the culture from the individual grave that gave the name to the collective grave of the previous funnel cup culture . Individual grave and bell beaker culture show their influences in large stone graves wherever the cultures spatially touch the spread of the megalithic complex. If you add the shards that were recovered from the disturbed facilities, you have to state that the EGK is represented in at least half of all large stone graves.

KW Struve (The Individual Grave Culture in Schleswig-Holstein) relies for its chronology on a division of the graves into underground time, ground burial time and upper burial time. He assumes that the graves were created higher and higher in the course of the EGK (based on the ground level).

There are often side stools and seldom stretched burials. The predominant grave orientation is east-west. Mostly a cup and amphora and almost always a stone ax.


For the EGK, there are no studies covering the entire area, only regional studies:


First elaboration of the cultural phenomenon in Jutland

Later editing by

for the island Danish area


First processing and naming of the culture

  • Johanna Mestorf : From the Stone Age. Graves without stone chamber below ground level . In: Messages from the Anthropol. Association in Schleswig-Holstein . Lipsius & Tischer, Kiel 1892, 9–24. ISSN  0179-9703

Comprehensive presentation with national significance through

  • Jan Piet Brozio : On the absolute chronology of the individual grave culture in Northern Germany and Northern Jutland. In: Germania. Volume 96, 2019, pp. 45-92 ( online ).
  • Karl Wilhelm Struve : The individual grave culture in Schleswig-Holstein and its continental relationships . K. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1955.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania:

  • Erika Beltz : On the problem of the southern extension of the Mecklenburg individual grave culture between the Elbe and the Oder with special consideration of the ceramic finds. Thesis. Humboldt University, Berlin 1968.
  • Jörn Jacobs : The individual grave culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (= contributions to the prehistory and early history of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Volume 24). State Office for Culture and the Preservation of Monuments, Schwerin 1991, ISSN  0138-4279 .
  • Dieter Kaufmann : Ceramic finds of the individual grave culture or Oderschnurkeramik in the Mecklenburg districts. In: Hermann Behrens, Friedrich Schlette (Hrsg.): The Neolithic cup cultures in the area of ​​the GDR and their European relations. Lectures from the 1967 conference (= publications by the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle. Volume 24). Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1969, pp. 115–123.
  • Ingeburg Nilius : Contribution to the position of the individual grave culture in Mecklenburg. In: Annual publication for Central German prehistory. Volume 64, 1981, pp. 63-87.


  • Günter Wetzel : Oderschnur ceramics and individual grave culture in Brandenburg. In: Hermann Behrens, Friedrich Schlette (Hrsg.): The Neolithic cup cultures in the area of ​​the GDR and their European relations. Lectures from the 1967 conference (= publications by the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle. Volume 24). Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1969, pp. 101–113.

Middle Elbe region, Saxony-Anhalt:

  • 1905/10 scientific evaluation by Paul Kupka .
  • 1920s excavations at the end of the 20s by H. Lies in Gerwisch , Jerichower Land
  • 1949 Investigation of the graves on the Taubenberg near Wahlitz, Jerichower Land
  • 2008 excavations near Stegelitz , Jerichower Land.
  • Michael Scheunemann: Individual grave culture . In: H.-J. Beier and R. Einicke (eds.): The Neolithic in the Middle Elbe-Saale area and in the Altmark. An overview and an outline of the state of research . Contributions to the prehistory and early history of Central Europe, Volume 4. pp. 257–268. Beier & Beran. 1994. ISBN 3-930036-05-3
  • Dirk Hecht: The Corded Ceramic Settlements in Southern Central Europe. A study of a neglected genus in the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age; Heidelberg 2007

Web links

Commons : Individual grave culture  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Eva Hübner: Young Neolithic graves on the Jutian peninsula . Copenhagen 2005, ISBN 8787483726 , p. 660, fig. 477.
  2. Lutz Klassen: On the importance of grain in Jutland's individual grave culture. In: Environment-Economy-Settlements in the Third Millennium BC in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Offa books NF 84, Neumünster 2008, pp. 49–65 ( online as PDF ; 6.2 MB).
  3. Peter Vilhelm Glob : The small burial mounds of the Bronze Age In: Vorzeitdenkmäler Denmark. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1968 pages 119–126
  4. Uwe Fiedler : With ax and hatchet: a rich Neolithic grave from Möckern. The richest inventory of individual grave culture in the country. Online at the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology Saxony-Anhalt .