Michelsberg culture

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Coordinates: 49 ° 5 '16.4 "  N , 8 ° 33' 41.7"  E

Michaelsberg (Michelsberg) today
Replica of a dome oven on the Michaelsberg - with cover

The Michelsberg culture (abbreviation MK ) was a Neolithic culture in Central Europe . It is named after the archaeological site on the Michaelsberg near Untergrombach near the northern Baden town of Bruchsal . There are sites and finds of the Michelsberg culture from the entire section of the early Neolithic with radiocarbon dates from around 4400 to 3500 BC. Chr.

The Michelsberg culture was spread as an area culture from its area of ​​origin in the Paris basin to southern Germany. The main settlement areas were in the Upper Rhine Plain , on the Middle Rhine and in the Kraichgau . The southeastern group of finds was in Eastern Bavaria near the Danube , where there was cultural contact with the late Münchshöfen culture at the same time . The current grading, MK IV, was first published in 1967 by Jens Lüning and is based primarily on the stylistic change in ceramics.

The Michelsberg near Untergrombach

The eponymous place of discovery , the "Michelsberg" (actually Michaelsberg ) is about four kilometers south of Bruchsal in the suburb of Untergrombach. The mountain rises on the edge of the Kraichgau with a height difference of 160 m at a height of 272.4 m above sea ​​level . The hill is limited on three sides by steep slopes and thus offers natural protection. The shortened name "Michelsberg" was made by archaeologists in the early publications around 1900 and has been retained since then, while the official topographical name is still called Michaelsberg today .

Tulip cup from Michelsberg, original, State Museum Württemberg

The first prehistoric finds were made in 1884 by Karl August von Cohausen . The first excavations of the Karlsruher Altertumsverein took place in 1888, further excavations were carried out by Karl Schumacher in 1897/98 . On a plateau on an area of ​​400 × 250 m in length, the remains of a rampart were discovered during the construction of paths , which came from a Neolithic settlement. Further excavations were carried out between 1950 and 1962 through land consolidation. The system is an earthwork that is typical of the Michelsberg culture in general. Inside the facility on the Michelsberg there were more than 100 settlement pits. The development consisted of wooden buildings with clay plaster . In the east of the complex, parts of a path seem to have been preserved.

No destruction of the facility was found. There was no evidence of the violent killing, and there were remains of supplies. Environmental influences could be responsible for the end of the system. The obvious explanation is a prolonged drought . Due to the climate change, the fields could no longer be tilled, humans and cattle had to look for new water sources . However, in prehistoric times there was often a fluctuation in the settlements, so that the abandonment of a settlement can also be part of the economic and social system. A chronological sequence of different Michelsberg earthworks seems to exist near Bruchsal.

Settlements and economics

Large-scale investigations in settlements have so far been lacking.

Earthworks with interrupted trenches are an important type of find, they usually contain pits and no clear signs of settlement. In addition to the Michelsberg, the earthworks of Ilsfeld , the earthworks of Urmitz , Wiesbaden-Schierstein, the Kapellenberg on the edge of the Taunus and the earthworks in the Bruchsal area should be mentioned as examples .

According to previous research, the MK is considered to be a culture that rejects copper, but there is occasional evidence of copper processing ( Klingenberg ).

Burials and graves

Graves of the Michelsberg culture are rare in the entire distribution area. Information on the burial culture cannot yet be given. Archaeologically examined burials from this period are among the exceptions. Unlike in the Bandkeramik and Rössen culture , burial fields are not proven. Even some of the pits on Michaelsberg, interpreted in this way, cannot be clearly interpreted as graves.

In the interpretation of the earthworks of the Michelsberg culture, the finds of human skeletal remains have always played a major role. Individual bones and bones in association are often found at the trench heads. The excavations of the Bruchsal-Aue settlement shed some light on the burial customs of the time . Here six graves with a single individual each and two graves with more than one were uncovered. The age of the dead is striking: children up to seven years and adults over 50, which was certainly a considerable age for the time. All younger adults are missing. After death, their bodies were obviously not buried in the earth, but were abandoned to putrefaction above ground ( excarnation ). Perhaps the skeletal parts from the pits can be traced back to such processes. This may also apply to individual bones from the fillings of the trenches. A grave in which the skeletons of two men and several children were arranged around shows the special character of these burials. They clearly lead into the area of ​​the cultic, which probably also includes landfills, i. H. Sacrifices, attributable to the trenches. These were mainly observed in the Aue and Scheelkopf settlements . Vessels - formerly with their contents -, well-preserved millstones and horns of aurochs were placed here . In the latter, it can be observed that they were carefully separated from the skull so that they could be sacrificed undamaged. This shows the special importance that the species had not only as game.

A few burials have been discovered in earthworks and settlements. The skeletons of children with drawn up legs were found in kettle-shaped pits, among other places . As grave goods were pots and cups included. In other cases, individual skeletal remains, such as skulls and limb bones, were discovered in the pits of earthworks. The custom of secondary burials may have been widespread.

In 2004 the skeletal remains of several people from the Mesolithic and Neolithic Age were discovered in the leaf cave near Hagen ( Westphalia ) . According to 14C data at the universities of Kiel and Oxford , the Neolithic skeletal remains are part of the late Michelsberg culture around 3,600 BC. To ask. Among the numerous remains are those of women, men and children. The skeleton of a 17 to 22 year old woman is relatively complete.

In Rosheim , in the Dép. Early Neolithic pits were discovered in Bas-Rhin France . One contained the skeleton of an adult woman lying on her back. It was on the western wall of the pit 60 cm above the floor and 30 cm below the surface in a backfill. The legs, strongly drawn up and turned to the right, leaned against a millstone. There was a layer of clay on the wall, which was particularly dense below the skeleton and could be a sign of "careful" treatment of the corpse. The filling was interspersed with shards, bones and fragments of sandstone. The woman had been killed by a blow on the skull with a blunt object.

Found good

Typical of the ceramics of the Michelsberg culture are pointed, undecorated tulip cups , scoops (leather style) and the so-called baking plates . Finds such as barley and emmer confirm arable farming . The bones of cattle , pigs , sheep and goats are evidence of livestock farming . Also dog bones were found. The bones of deer and fox testify to the hunt.

Important sites


  • Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (Ed.): The Neolithic Age in Transition. The "Michelsberg culture" and Central Europe 6000 years ago. Catalog for the exhibition in the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe November 20, 2010– May 15, 2011 . Primus Verlag, Darmstadt 2010, ISBN 978-3-534-23782-1 .
  • Rolf-Heiner Behrends: Is a path proven from the Neolithic? In: Archäologische Nachrichten aus Baden 58, 1998, pp. 3–6.
  • Christa Grund: The Michelsberg Culture: Studies on Chronology. (Saarbrücker studies and materials for antiquity, vol. 12) Habelt, Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-7749-3467-2 .
  • Michael Hassler (ed.): The Michaelsberg. Natural history and history of Untergrombach's local mountain. Supplements to the publications for nature conservation and landscape management in Baden-Württemberg, Vol. 90. Verlag Regionalkultur, Ubstadt-Weiher 1998, ISBN 978-3-929366-78-5 .
  • Robert Koch: The earthworks of the Michelsberger culture on the Hetzenberg near Heilbronn-Neckargartach. (Research and reports on prehistory and early history in Baden-Württemberg, Volume 3/1) Theiss, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1640-1 .
  • Claudia Nickel: Michelsberg skeletal remains from Michelsberg find contexts. Report of the Roman-Germanic Commission 78, 1997, pp. 29–195.
  • Susanne Reiter, The ceramics of the Michelsberg moat from Bruchsal Aue . Material booklets for archeology in Baden-Württemberg 65. Theiss, 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1739-4 .
  • Ute Seidel: Michelsberger Erdwerke in the Heilbronn area: Neckarsulm-Obereisesheim, "Hetzenberg" and Ilsfeld Ebene, district of Heilbronn, Heilbronn-Klingenberg "Schloßberg", city of Heilbronn (= material booklets on archeology in Baden-Württemberg. Volume 81 / 1-3) . Theiss, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8062-2219-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Jörg Biel , Helmut Schlichtherle , Michael Strobel, Andrea Zeeb (eds.): The Michelsberg culture and its peripheral areas - problems of the origin, chronology and the settlement system . Colloquium Hemmenhofen 21. – 23. February 1997. Material booklets for archeology in Baden-Württemberg 43, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 978-3-8062-1356-0 .
  2. R.-H. Behrends: New research on Michelsberg culture in Kraichgau. In: J. Biel / H. Schlichtherle / M. Strobel / A. Zeeb (ed.): The Michelsberg culture and its peripheral areas - problems of origin, chronology and the settlement system. Materialh. zur Arch. 43, Stuttgart 1998, pp. 115-119.
  3. Irenäus Matuschik: Sengkofen- "Pfatterbreite", a place where the Michelsberg culture was found in the Bavarian Danube Valley, and the Michelsberg culture in the eastern Alpine foothills. Bavarian history sheets 57, 1992, pp. 1-31.
  4. ^ Jens Lüning : The Michelsberg culture. Your finds in time and space. In: Reports of the Roman-Germanic Commission 48, 1967 (1968) pp. 1–350.
  5. Jens Lüning: The development of ceramics during the transition from the Middle to the Young Neolithic in southern Germany. In: Reports of the Roman-Germanic Commission 50, 1969 (1971) pp. 1-95.
  6. a b Albrecht Bonnet : The Stone Age settlement on the Michelsberg near Untergrombach. Publications of the Grossh. Bath. Collections for antiquity and ethnology in Karlsruhe and the Karlsruher Altertumsverein 2, 1899, pp. 39–54.
  7. ^ Karl Schumacher: On the settlement history of the right-hand Rhine valley between Basel and Mainz. Zabern, Mainz 1902
  8. A. Dauber: New excavations on the Michelsberg near Untergrombach. Germania 29, 1951, pp. 132-134.
  9. ^ François Bertemes : Investigations on the function of the earthworks of the Michelsberg culture in the context of the Copper Age civilization. - In: Jan Lichardus (Ed.): The Copper Age as a historical epoch. 1991, pp. 441-464.
  10. Erdwerk Bruchsal- "Aue". DFG project "Settlement Structures of Michelsberg Culture in Kraichgau", accessed on August 15, 2016.

Web links

Commons : Michelsberger Kultur  - Collection of images, videos and audio files