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Coordinates: 51 ° 13 ′ 34 ″  N , 6 ° 57 ′ 4 ″  E

Relief map: North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia

The Neandertal (until the beginning of the 20th century Neanderthal and until the early 19th century mainly referred to as the rock ) is a largely undeveloped section of the Düssel in the area of ​​the cities of Erkrath and Mettmann , around ten kilometers east of Düsseldorf . The original, once well-known gorge of almost one kilometer in length was completely destroyed in the 19th century by the mining of limestone . Immediately afterwards, the Neandertal gained worldwide fame through the discovery of fossil remains of a prehistoric man from the Pleistocene , who gave this species its name as the Neanderthals .


Joachim Neander

The Neandertal was originally called the rock , the dog cliff or just the cliff . The meaning of the name Hundsklipp (sometimes spelled Hunnsklipp ) has not been clearly established. There have been attempts to explain that the word derives from Honnschaft or even from the Huns . Around the middle of the 19th century the name was changed to Neanderthal , in memory of the well-known hymn composer and Evangelical Reformed pastor Joachim Neander ( Praise the Lord, the mighty King of Honor ) . Born in Bremen, the Neander was between 1674 and 1679 the rector of the Düsseldorf Latin School of the Reformed parish and assistant preacher. In his spare time he often visited this valley, which was then still like a gorge. Here he held services and conventicles and composed many of his hymns and chorales that are still known today .

The oldest known printed document describing the appearance of the valley is also from Neander:

“Is also a travel song in summer or autumn for those who came to Franckfurt am Mayn to see the pure stream and depart, where between Cöllen and Maintz mountains, cliffs, brooks and rocks can be seen with extraordinary astonishment; also in the Bergisches Land in the rock not far from Düsseldorff. "

- Joachim Neander, Bremen 1680

Originally, in addition to the term rock , the individual rock and cave formations such as Angel's Chamber , Devil's Chamber , Leuchtenburg , Predigtstuhl , Feldhofer Church or Rabenstein were often mentioned by name, from 1800 the terms Neanders chair and Neanders cave were used in travel reports. While limestone mining in the second half of the 19th century destroyed the natural beauty of the rocks and a spacious valley was created, the term Neanderthal caught on. Until the 1880s, however, the term rock was popular . It only disappeared when there was nothing left of the actual rock. To date, the field names in rock (left, d. H. South) and Unter'm rock (right, i. E. North-northeast) the Düssel in the official real estate cadastre information system recorded (ALKIS).

Spelling with or without h

In the course of the spelling reform of 1901 , the h was officially dropped  from the name; however, the museum with its paleontological theme continues to use the traditional notation based on the scientific notation neanderthalensis . The Regiobahn stop has also retained this notation. The website of the city of Mettmann justifies this as follows: "Neither the Bundesbahn nor the Regio-Bahn dared to rename this stop because of its close relationship and its close proximity to the museum."


The Rabenstein after a 2007 cleanup
Display board at the "Old Lime Kiln" with a view of the Rabenstein from 1906
Johann Heinrich Bongard
Huppertsbracken lime kiln

The Neandertal used to be a narrow gorge almost one kilometer long and about 50 meters deep in the limestone of Central Devonian with partly overhanging walls, waterfalls, many smaller caves and a great diversity of species. In the hilly landscape of the Niederbergischen, an almost plain with incised brook valleys, such a narrow rock valley was an unfamiliar, strange phenomenon, which is why it was sometimes even compared to the Graubünden gorge Viamala . Despite numerous natural studies that have been preserved, including by students from the Düsseldorf School of Painting , and some photographs of early stages of dismantling (the Neanderthal Museum has 150 images), the topography of the gorge is largely in the dark today.

For the first time, the valley is mentioned in a tithe list from Haus Unterbach in 1609 as Hundtß Schlippen . The rock was also included in the first land survey and geographical description of the Duchy of Berg , the Topographia Ducatus Montani by Erich Philipp Ploennies , published in 1715:

"In this Ambt on the Düsselbach, between the Feldhoff and Hof Karstein is the so-called rock (which are large caves in the mountains) and after which sometimes some strangers to see such, start a crack."

- Topographia Ducatus Montani 1715

The Erkrath doctor and Prussian Councilor Johann Heinrich Bongard describes in his book Hike to the Neanders Cave , published in 1835, for the first time the still untouched rock with its Düsselklamm in great detail, including some illustrations, without mentioning the not yet common name Neandertal . In addition, the nature lover describes in this hiking guide the geology and the diverse botany of the rock gorge and its biodiversity with plants such as belladonna , milkweed , hemlock , thyme , woodruff , watercress and the butterbur, which is very common in the valley and grows over a large area . His descriptions still give the best overview of the original beauty of nature, which in its time was already a well-known and, after the opening of the Düsseldorf – Elberfeld railway line in 1841, also a popular destination for nature lovers, day trippers and singing groups. The artists of the Düsseldorf School of Painting used the stone not only as a template for landscape painting, but also often for their festivities and day trips.

In the Neandertal, limestone ( Devonian mass limestone ) has probably been mined in small quantities for peasant lime kilns since the Middle Ages . Lime kilns are documented as early as 1519 and 1672, the older of which was located on the present-day site of the former Mannesmann lime works and the other, named Huppertsbracken, was restored as a cultural and historical monument in 1986 and is now located on the Düssel above the Neanderthal (between the Höfe Thunis and Bracken) along the way can be visited. The ruins of the Feldhofer or Hatzfeld'schen Kalkofen are located on the Braumüller Düsselbrücke at the Am alten Kalkofen parking lot .

Lime mining was for a time also an important branch of the economy in the region, as it is often mentioned in the sources, including the contributions to the statistics of the Duchy of Berg from 1806:

“(…) Bey Erkrath is a broken roofing slate; There are also various lime kilns in this office, including one at the cost court. In their vicinity is the famous rock: the Leuchtenburg, Neanderhöhle, and a waterfall from the Düsselbach, to which the neighboring towns take different air trips every year. "

- Contributions to the statistics of the Duchy of Berg, publication run 1, 1802–1805

If the valley was not yet directly affected by the construction of the first West German railway line from Düsseldorf to Erkrath (opened in 1838, expanded to Elberfeld in 1841), the industrial limestone mining that began in 1849 completely changed the valley. In 1854 the "Actiengesellschaft für Marmorindustrie im Neanderthal" was founded, which promoted limestone mining on a large scale. Lime was not only needed for construction purposes and the steel and coal industry in the Ruhr area , the nearby ironworks in Hochdahl also needed it as a basic additive for smelting. Limestone mining shaped the valley for about a century; It was not until 1945 that operations were stopped.

Afterwards nothing was to be seen of the original limestone cliffs, since all rock formations and caves had fallen victim to limestone mining within less than 100 years. Only the so-called Rabenstein , a rock nose directly on the road and at the entrance to the place where the Neanderthal man was found , is left. In 1926 a plaque was attached to remind of the discovery of the Neanderthal by Johann Carl Fuhlrott.

Almost all of the destruction of the original nature aroused criticism even at that time:

“The Neander Cave is still untouched, and the small spring is still gushing down. It is a small but the most beautiful part. The stock corporation there, to which the whole thing belongs, has to this day either in holy shyness to touch such a natural work or, out of a lovable inclination for a nature-loving public, has left this beauty untouched. [...] In a few years, the previously respected formation will also fall victim to the demolition. Then later generations will not understand, indeed believe it to be unbelievable, how an ordinary lime industry could destroy such famous sites. "

- Mettmanner Zeitung 1887

Three years later the Neander Cave was also blown up as the last remnant of the original rock.

Topographical sketch of the former Neandertal around 1840

The lower entrance of the Neander Cave (the view through the corridor curved to the right was not possible in this way, lithograph in Bongard, 1835)
The "small waterfall", probably the Laubach waterfall (in Bongard, 1835)
View from the pulpit to the Rabenstein in the background, on the right the Feldhofskirche cave , depiction slightly elevated (in Bongard, 1835)
Special stamp of the Deutsche Post AG for the 150th anniversary of the find in 2006 with use of the raven stone image by Bongard and the skullcap found in the Neandertal

In the following, the gorge is only described as far as it can be largely safely closed from the previously known documents.

In the valley widening at the confluence of the Mettmanner Bach near today's Neanderthal Museum, there were two rural properties on both sides of the bridge over the Düssel: Hundsklipp with Hundsklipper mill south of the Düssel (Mayor Haan ) and In der Medtman north of the Düssel (Mayor Mettmann ). From the latter, one path led in a wide arc around the valley basin to the plateau to the former Kastein estate , another through a ravine (at the Neanderthal train station, which has existed since 1879 ) to Eidamshaus and Mettmann. The path, which climbed steeply to the south from the Hundsklipp farm with its garden restaurant , touched the Feldhof , to whose lands the rock on the left bank belonged, and from 1841 the Hochdahl train station .

Down the river the valley meadows were bordered by the Hundsklippe like a wall. At its foot, a small grotto with a door-like portal, the Angel's Chamber (today's eastern tip ⊙ of the bus parking lot) , opened up on a rocky outcrop towards the southwest . On the steep slope opposite, the larger, dark devil's chamber with some stalactites opened up about 10 m above the stream, flat elliptical . Their portal could be reached from the plateau. There she had an impassable chimney-like opening. The gorge of the rock began between the Teufelskammer and the Hundsklippe , in which the Düssel, now in a north-westerly direction, rushed through a heavily blocked bed.

Near the Angel's Chamber, the ascent to the almost 40 meter towering rock wall of the Rabenstein began through a spring . It overhanged more than five meters to the northwest and offered a dizzying view down into the particularly narrow, almost gorge-like gorge. The Rabenstein was between the today so named preserved rest of the northwest wall subsequent game (with the 1926 rear-mounted plaque for Johann Carl Fuhlrott) and the pillars of the former moor train the quarry. His opposite left the Düssel sticking to a rock, by the same Massenkalk - Bank was formed. The rock banks generally dip here at 45 ° to the southeast and cross the Düssel almost at right angles.

This narrowness was followed on the right by a first valley widening. Here, beneath the doline-like wolf pit in the upper slope, a spring encrusted the rocky steep slope with limestone tuff . After a loud cataract of the Düssel, another, very steep-walled indentation with a flat, wet sole opened up on the left. In the wall above there was a walkable ledge at a height of about 20 meters, onto which the large grotto of the Feldhof Church opened to the northwest. A few meters further to the west, a horizontal, hand-wide gap gave a view of the small grotto, which would later become world-famous as a place of discovery. A little further on, the indentation was closed off to the northwest by a high rock wall overhanging above and overgrown by ivy .

Opposite this cliff, the lower, 6-meter-wide portal of the Neander Cave , formerly called Leuchtenburg , opened up about 20 m above the Düssel, widened like a funnel . This even corridor, rising in a right-hand arc and encrusted by calcareous sinter , emerged again after about 30 meters in length on the south wall of the Neander rocks . In front of the upper portal, like a continuation, was an ivy-covered rock arch. It was used to reach the cave from above, that is, from Hof ​​Kastein (today a quarry, most recently Kalksteinwerk Neandertal GmbH ), as did the artists of the Düsseldorf Art Academy when they celebrated parties here. The Neanders chair towered above the cave as one of many rock peaks , a much-visited vantage point over the gorge, which was also fascinating because of the loud noise of the river Düssel.

Then the central rock basin opened with a level, damp ground shaded by individual trees. The Düssel flowed here broadly and quietly. From the right the side gorge of the Laubach flows into with waterfalls that were formed by a 10-15 meter high tufa terrace. In an older part of the tufa mass, near the Laubach Falls (see list of waterfalls in Germany ) was the Löwen - or Wolfsschlucht , a winding primary cave . Opposite her on the left, southern bank was the grotto horse stable .

In the upper Laubach valley, the quite large and old Kasteiner quarry with lime kiln and the Kasteiner mill were operated. A good path led down from Kastein almost to the edge of the waterfall. In the lower part of its gorge, the Laubach almost appeared to be stagnant water due to the backwater of the slowly growing tufa terrace.

The rock basin was dominated by the rock tower of the pulpit with a great view and by other rock formations, including a 15 m high rock needle in the southern walls. There was also another, less visited rock arch, the Hohthalspforte .

The following, last and impassable rock passage ended with the low Düsseldorf fall . He marked the exit of the gorge, barely 600 meters long. From here there was again space for irrigated valley meadows. The craggy walls only continued on the left for another 300 meters to about the Braumüller bridge from 1820 at the hikers' car park. Quarries were in operation on both sides of the lower exit of the gorge and several lime kilns near the bridge, one of which (presumably that of Countess Hatzfeldt , Kalkum ), also known as the Feldhofer Kalkofen , has been preserved as a ruin.

According to the description of Bongard (1835), the gorge possessed an impressive floristic and faunistic wealth. Also because of the karst phenomena and its sometimes massive, sometimes picturesque rock scenery, it was one of the outstanding natural wonders of northwest Germany.

Find of the Neanderthal man in 1856

Close-up of the memorial plaque on the Rabenstein, which was restored in 2009
Johann Carl Fuhlrott
Hermann Schaaffhausen

While clearing out the cave clay in August 1856, two Italian quarry workers came across 16 bone fragments at the Kleine Feldhofer Grotto . At first they were carelessly thrown away; However, when part of a skullcap was found, the owner of the quarry, Friedrich Wilhelm Pieper, and co-owner Wilhelm Beckershoff, who suspected bear bones, consulted the teacher and naturalist Johann Carl Fuhlrott from Elberfeld (now in Wuppertal ). Fuhlrott interpreted the bone remnants as parts of a skeleton of a prehistoric man. The Bonn anthropologist Hermann Schaaffhausen , who was brought in by Fuhlrott, also assumed a prehistoric man, but initially did not want to agree with Fuhlrott's thesis of an Ice Age creature. All in all, the skullcap, both thigh bones, the right upper arm with the spoke, the left upper arm with the ulna, a fragment of the right shoulder blade, the right clavicle, the left half of the pelvis and five ribs were recovered. The skeleton was probably stretched horizontally in the longitudinal direction of the grotto, with the skull turned towards the mouth. Due to the firmly adhering clay covering that surrounded it, the skeleton was not recognized as such and could even have been completely present. The find was first presented in 1857 by Fuhlrott and Schaaffhausen at the general assembly of the Natural History Association of the Prussian Rhineland . Fuhlrott's interpretation, however, was not recognized by experts during his lifetime, and even vehemently rejected or ridiculed. Against the background of the newly emerging theory of evolution , strong controversies flared up, which put the doctrine of the time, attributed to Cuvier, “L'homme fossile n'existe pas!” (The fossil human does not exist!) Into doubt. The famous doctor and most important German pathologist of his time, Rudolf Virchow , who had the skeletal remains shown in Fuhlrott's absence in 1872, was of the firm opinion that only the skeleton of a recently sick man was in front of him. His interpretation meant that research in Germany came to a standstill for decades. The British researcher and geologist Charles Lyell, on the other hand, who was strongly influenced by the pioneering theories of his friend and colleague Charles Darwin and who visited the Neanderthal in 1860 at the invitation of Fuhlrott, included the Neanderthal in his work and ultimately confirmed Fuhlrott.

As later research turned out, the Neanderthals lived in the Pleistocene approximately 130,000 to 30,000 years ago. The skeletal fragments from the Neandertal are according to the latest provisions 42,000 years old, therefore, are among the most recent traces of the Neanderthals in Central Europe this species was 1863/1864 by the British geologist William King after the site as Homo neanderthalensis named and as Neanderthals much later a global concept . Fuhlrott himself did not live to see this anymore, he died in 1877, long before his thesis was finally recognized. As early as 1900, the location of the site and thus the sediments shoveled out of the cave was no longer known. While the find achieved world fame from the 19th century, the Neandertal sank into the rubble of the growing quarries.

Today it is no longer understandable why hardly anyone has carried out further excavations and research, although further discoveries were suspected in the rubble. The Neander Cave, which was only blown up in 1890 as the last large rock cave , was never examined in detail. Presumably, in 1895, the Düsseldorf archaeologist Oscar Rautert discovered skeletal remains of another Neanderthal in an already destroyed cave on the northern bank of the Düssel, but no detailed investigation was carried out here either. This find has been considered lost since the Second World War .

Further finds 1997–2000

The skullcap from 1856 from the Neandertal, in front of the matching cheekbones from the find from 2000 (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn)
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal man based on the latest research (Neanderthal Museum)

Since 1991, the Neanderthals have been thoroughly re-examined using the latest methods as part of a research project in collaboration with the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn under the direction of Ralf W. Schmitz.

It became clear early on that a new excavation at the original site was necessary for further research. For decades there was a car recycling facility with a scrapyard at the assumed location; it was closed in March 1994.

After all permits from the city of Erkrath, the district of Mettmann, the owner Rheinisch-Westfälische Kalkwerke (RWK) and other parties involved, excavations were carried out by Schmitz and his colleague Jürgen Thiessen. At first, difficult research was carried out to try to determine the actual location. When clearing out cave clay in the middle of the 19th century, further bone fragments were probably carelessly thrown somewhere and covered over. As part of an excavation by the Rhenish Office for Ground Monument Preservation in 1997, both researchers succeeded in rediscovering the sediments of the Kleiner Feldhofer Grotto , the presumed site of discovery from 1856, and those of the neighboring Feldhofer Church cave .

During this and above all during further excavations in 1999 and 2000, spectacular finds were made. In addition to stone tools from the younger Cro-Magnon people of the Upper Paleolithic and those of the Neanderthals from 42,000 years ago, around 70 human bone fragments were found two meters below the surface of the earth. It was found that three of these fragments, including a cheekbone and a piece of the thigh bone, can be attached directly to the bone find from 1856, i.e. they are parts of the original find. In addition, fragments of a second, previously unknown Neanderthal man and a failed milk tooth of a Neanderthal child were discovered. These finds attracted worldwide attention and brought the Neandertal back into national conversation.

These skeletal parts are still part of intensive research. The find area was closed and sealed off for at least 50 years, but made accessible to the public by means of a secured hiking trail set up as a timeline from the museum.

In addition to the finds from the Pleistocene, there were also countless artefacts such as tool remains, sleeper nails, screws from the early limestone mining period or shards of wine jugs, presumably from celebrations of the Düsseldorf School of Painting.

Behind the site there is an inaccessible and invisible residual quarry, which was initially used by a Fraunhofer Institute and later as a branch of the Botanical Institute of the University of Düsseldorf for research. Today it is mostly called Fraunhofer-Bruch and can be seen very well from the regional railway trains in autumn and winter with defoliated trees. Since 1993, 5.34 hectares of which have been designated as the “Fraunhofer Steinbruch” nature reserve. In 1997, the area to the west of it, as well as a small strip to the south and north, was designated as a nature reserve “Western Neandertal” (34.23 hectares). The site itself is in the 1984 designated landscape protection area "Täler von Düssel und Mettmanner Bach" (629.80 hectares).

Neandertal nature reserve

Angle mill
Pillar of the former Lorenbahn directly on the Rabenstein
The Düssel in autumn

The Neandertal nature reserve comprises an area that, in addition to the actual valley of the Düssel, also includes a larger area that does not entirely belong to the actual Neandertal. This means that it covers an area of ​​223.19 hectares.

After the original beauty of the rock and the Düsselklamm can hardly be imagined and the valley was up to 350 meters wide in places due to the industrial limestone mining, large parts of the valley were placed under protection on August 9, 1921. This succeeded due to the initiative of the Neandertal eV nature conservation association founded on November 28, 1920 by citizens of the former municipalities of Erkrath, Mettmann and Gruiten as well as the cities of Düsseldorf and Elberfeld. This committee set itself the task of protecting not only the few remains of the valley, but to preserve the finds for posterity, and suggested the establishment of a museum, which opened on March 3, 1938. The protection position became urgent mainly because of plans to cut down large parts of the remaining forest, as there was a shortage of fuel during the period of the French occupation of the Rhineland due to reparations . So the Neandertal became the first nature reserve in Prussia , half a year before the Lüneburg Heath and two years before the Siebengebirge . In 1945 limestone mining progressed northwards from the Düsseltal, where it will finally end in 2022. This marked the beginning of the recapture of large parts of the area by the fauna and flora.

A legal upgrade of the nature reserve (NSG) resulted at the end of the 20th century when the valley was designated as a Natura 2000 area. Due to the current Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive , a strict protection system applies to the Neandertal nature reserve, which prohibits all measures (uses) that could lead to damage to the protected property. In accordance with Section 23 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, recreational use is only permitted if it is compatible with the protection purpose. The protection purpose is defined in the protected area designation of the Mettmann district administration. For example, leaving the path is prohibited and dogs are required to be leashed.

Since the new building of the museum, which brought with it a significantly increased number of visitors, the opening and restoration of the rediscovered site and the removal of the car recycling, the tensions between nature conservation and use in the Neandertal have increased. Although the Neandertal has been a priority area for nature conservation since its designation as a nature reserve , the local recreation infrastructure has been expanded in parallel since the 1990s. The relocation of the museum out of the nature reserve was originally intended to relieve the valley. Since the new museum was being built in the immediate vicinity of the nature reserve and the old museum building, contrary to what was originally planned, was not removed, the problems worsened. After being temporarily used as a magazine, the former museum was reactivated as a secondary location of the museum, which is used for a variety of purposes (e.g. a Stone Age workshop for children and workshops).

Although species protection measures can hardly be implemented in the Neandertal, as they would have a restriction of recreational use as a precondition, relics of the biodiversity described by Bongard as early as 1835 have been preserved in less accessible locations. Many of the plant species described by Bongard and some botanists in the 19th century, such as the white and long-leaved forest bird , the wild silver leaf or the whorled white root , no longer exist in the Neandertal; other plant species listed on the red list were rediscovered during investigations in 1987. Examples are the hart's tongue fern (in the Neandertal the largest occurrences are probably in the northern Rhineland) and the spleen fern , which had disappeared for decades and has now been found again in a few specimens in the northernmost Rhenish location. Rare mosses settle on the limestone walls , and various types of mushrooms, such as the rare tongue of earth , have found a home again. Today there are various forest communities in the Neandertal, which vary depending on the nature of the soil, exposure and degree of moisture. At the old museum there are oak-birch forests, on the Düssel slope towards the game reserve, mostly birch trees . The most widespread forest community is the Hainsimsen- Buchenwald , but there are also small red beech stands . Lush fern vegetation thrives in shady, not too steep locations . Butterbur also grows in moist hollows on the Düssel. Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis ), dipper ( Cinclus cinclus ), grass snake ( Natrix natrix ) and sand lizard ( Lacerta agilis ) can still be seen occasionally. The nature conservation organizations active in the Neanderthal region are primarily concerned with researching the habitats and promoting these species. Despite the expulsion of Neandertales as a nature reserve, it has been impossible to prevent that in the 1990s here the last population of the midwife toad ( Alytes obstetricans ) is extinct.

Neanderthal Museum, Art Trail and Ice Age game reserve

The new Neanderthal Museum
Art Trail Human Traces
(Memoria Mundi)
Access to the site - the Rabenstein on the left
Heck cattle in the game reserve

The new Neanderthal Museum is primarily concerned with the presentation of the development history of the Neanderthal man and man. It is now world-famous for its conception and the way it is presented and is very popular. The 170,000 annual visitors also include many school classes. An exhibition shows mankind's long journey from the savannah to the big city. The museum works with modern audio systems that can also be used on the way to the site, and with multimedia presentations. Classic media such as exhibits and reading texts are also part of the exhibitions. One focus is of course the Neanderthals, whose lifelike figures were reconstructed using scientific methods on the basis of original skulls. The originals of the skeletal remains found are not in the Neanderthal Museum, but in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn , where they sold Fuhlrott's heirs after his death in 1877 through Schaaffhausen's mediation. Exhibitions, information opportunities, seminars and workshops on other related areas, such as the man from Tisenjoch (known as Ötzi ) or the Nebra sky disk , also take place regularly .

The new museum, supported by the Neanderthal Museum Foundation , was opened on October 10, 1996 in a central location directly on the L357 road between Erkrath and Mettmann by the Federal President Roman Herzog and the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Johannes Rau . It replaced the old museum building from 1938 in the forest, which has housed the Stone Age workshop since then. Furthermore, the MenschenSpuren art trail , a sculpture trail with works by 11 artists, was set up along the hiking trails in the Neandertal. He takes on the tension between man and nature.

The site behind the Rabenstein, which was rediscovered through excavations in the late 1990s, is now accessible and can be viewed when visiting the museum. The few hundred meters long walk from the museum to the site of the find, partly along the Düssel, was set up as a timeline on which the development of life from its beginnings to the present is shown.

The Ice Age game reserve Neandertal is a 23 hectare game reserve established in 1935. After the initial growth of the population (40 animals in 1940), after the end of the war as a result of poaching, wet pastures and liver infestation, it was without stock. In 1951 Heck cattle from the Wuppertal Zoo were used, later the bison, Heck horses and fallow deer were added. The animals living in the game enclosure today are tail cattle , tail horses and bison . Visually similar animal species also lived here at the time of the Neanderthals and were his prey, with Heck cattle and Heck horse being farm animals , which are each supposed to represent their extinct wild forms . Since the game reserve is located in the Neandertal nature reserve, other wild animals such as gray herons , tree hawks , dormice and others can also be observed. The walking paths around the game reserve are available all year round free of charge. A circular route of over an hour, partly along the Düssel, leads past the enclosure to the Stone Age workshop near the Neanderthal Museum. The game reserve is looked after by the Zweckverband Wildgehege Neandertal , an association of the surrounding cities of Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Erkrath, Mettmann and Haan, as well as the Mettmann district and the Neandertal nature conservation association.

Neanderthal train station

Neanderthal train station

Above the Neanderthal Museum is the remarkable former station building of the Düsseldorf-Derendorf – Dortmund Süd railway line opened by the Rheinische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft in 1879 at the Regiobahn - Neanderthal stop , now privately owned. In more recent times, until the 1990s, this route was only used by rail buses and freight trains from the nearby Mannesmann lime works. After extensive renovation and modernization measures at many stops along the line, the well-frequented regional train S 28 has been operating here since 1999 on the Kaarster See - Neuss Hbf - Düsseldorf Hbf - Erkrath Nord - Mettmann, Stadtwald line. This means that the Neandertal can be reached in 15 minutes from Düsseldorf Central Station.

Despite the spelling reform of 1901, the Neanderthal train station continues to be written with an "h". Probably in particular because it also contains the Neanderthal Museum, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the train station , since the Neanderthal man, discovered in 1856, lost his "h" in the Duden with the spelling reform (there became a Neanderthal man ), but in his scientific name "Homo neanderthalensis" however retained.

Worth mentioning

Today's waterfall of the Laubach
Statue of the Neanderthal from 1928

The name of the Neandertal has found many uses in the vicinity. The NRW local station in the region is called Radio Neandertal . There is also a Neandertal Passage in Mettmann and the Am Neandertal high school in Erkrath. Until the mid-1990s, the Neandertal's tourist infrastructure was poorly developed. The valley was mainly a day trip destination for hikers, for example on the Neandertal Trail of the Sauerland Mountain Association. Only the old, relatively small museum with around 50,000 visitors in 1986 dealt with the paleontological topic, but the actual place of discovery had long been forgotten. The decade-long use of the - at the time only presumed - area as a scrap yard illustrates the rather low interest in processing the find or in other further research at the site for a long time. Only after the reopening of the new Neanderthal Museum, the redesign of the rediscovered site, the increased reporting in national media as well as the emerging interest in the subject, did the valley regain public awareness. After extensive clearing measures by the State Office for Roads. NRW in 2014 the Laubach waterfall became accessible again.


  • Johann Heinrich Bongard : Hike to the Neanders Cave - A topographical sketch of the area of ​​Erkrath on the Düssel. Arnz & Comp. Düsseldorf 1835 (available as a facsimile under ISBN 3-922055-19-2 ) (Earliest detailed description of the Neandertal including its caves and grottos before the start of industrial limestone mining, online )
  • Hanna Eggerath, Anton Rose (photos): In the rock. The original Neandertal in pictures from the 19th century. Wienand, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-87909-517-5 (descriptions and pictures of the Neandertal before it was destroyed by limestone mining).
  • Johann Carl Fuhlrott : Human remains from a rock grotto in the Düsselthals. A contribution to the question about the existence of fossil humans. In: Negotiations of the Natural History Association of the Prussian Rhineland and Westphalia , 16, 1859, pp. 131–153.
  • Johann Carl Fuhlrott: The caves and grottoes in Rhineland-Westphalia. Iserlohn 1869, p. 60 ff.
  • RW Schmitz, J. Thissen: Neandertal - The story goes on. Spektrum, Akad.-Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-8274-1345-1 (reference book by two archaeologists who discovered further Neanderthal bones a few years ago with many details about the Neanderthal, the history of the find from 1856 and the current scientific status of the Neanderthal Research)
  • Klaus Goebel: A romantic hike to Elberfeld and through the Neandertal in May 1843. From the diary of Mathilde Franziska (Annekes). In: J. Reulecke, B. Dietz (ed.): With carriage, steam horse, suspension railway. Travels in the Bergisches Land II (1750–1910) , Neustadt a. d. Aisch 1984, ISBN 3-87707-052-3 , pp. 167-180.
  • City of Erkrath (ed.): Hochdahl . 1989, ISBN 3-88913-128-X , pp. 12-46.
  • Rhenish Association for Monument Preservation and Landscape Protection (Ed.): M. Woike, S. Woike: Das Neandertal. (= Rhenish Landscapes , Issue 32), 1988, ISBN 3-88094-616-7 (treatise on the Neandertal, mainly on the subject of botany and geological conditions)
  • Rhenish Association for Monument Preservation and Landscape Protection (Ed.): RW Schmitz, GC Less: The Neandertal - A fascinating landscape of memories. (= Rhenish Landscapes , Issue 52), 2003, ISBN 3-88094-915-8 (The renewed excavation at Rabenstein and today's appearance of the Neandertal after the opening of the Art Trail and the evolutionary path to the place of discovery)

Web links

Commons : Neanderthal  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Neandertal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Bärbel Auffermann, Gerd-C. Less (Ed.): Time Travel - A Journey Through the History of Humankind. Neanderthal Museum, 2001, ISBN 3-935624-00-X .
  2. The name "Hundsklip" (which in a narrower sense referred to the cliff to the right of the Düssel at the entrance (southeast end) of the narrow rock valley - the rock -) can also be found in the historical map "Tranchot 1801-1828"; the designation “The Rock” in the “First recording 1836–1850”; both can be viewed online in the Cologne district government's TIM-online , based on geographic reference data for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, accessed and received on April 18, 2016 (German, in the left side menu via "Services of the NRW Atlas" → "Historical Maps" activate the desired map - at All of the information mentioned must be ticked - and the other cards must be deactivated. In addition, click on “Map center” in the menu on the left “Map positioning” and in the corresponding line below “6 ° 56′40.85 ″: 51 ° 13′40.10 Enter ″ ", then click on" Update map ", if necessary also zoom to a scale of 1: 5,000).
  3. a b c Johann Heinrich Bongard: Hike to the Neanders Cave - A topographical sketch of the area of ​​Erkrath on the Düssel. Arnz & Comp, Düsseldorf 1835, facsimile: ISBN 3-922055-19-2 .
  4. a b c d Helmut Ackermann: Joachim Neander - His life, his songs, his valley. Grupello-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1997, ISBN 3-928234-67-6 .
  5. Alpha and Omega. Joachim Neandri Faith = and love = exercise. Auffgemuntert by simple covenant = songs and Danck = psalms , Bremen 1680, p. 168 (quoted from: Eggerath, Rose: Im Gesteins , 1996, p. 15)
  6. ^ A b H. Eggerath, A. Rose: Im Gesteins - The original Neandertal in pictures of the 19th century Bergische Forschungen Volume XXVI, Wienand-Verlag, 1996, ISBN 3-87909-517-5 .
  7. ^ Heinrich Forsthoff: A refuge in the Neandertal. In: Jülich-Bergische Geschichtsblätter Volume I, 1922, p. 58 (quoted from: Ackermann: Joachim Neander, Grupello-Verlag 1997)
  8. ALKIS in TIM-online of the Cologne district government , based on geographic reference data for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, accessed and received on April 18, 2016 (German, the display of the relevant ALKIS information can be found in the left side menu via “Services of the North Rhine-Westphalia Atlas” → “Property map “→“ ALKIS ”→“ Parcel ”- the checkmark must be ticked for all of the above information - also click“ Map center ”in the menu on the left“ Map positioning ”and in the corresponding line below“ 6 ° 56′42.09 ″: 51 Enter ° 13'40.39 ″ ", then click on" Update map ", if necessary also zoom to a scale of 1: 2,000).
  9. Timetable of the S28 with the name of the Neanderthal station (PDF file; 112 kB)
  11. a b c d e f g Rheinischer Verein für Denkmalpflege und Landschaftsschutz (Ed.): M. Woike, S. Woike: Das Neandertal. (= Rhenish landscapes , issue 32), 1988, ISBN 3-88094-616-7 .
  12. a b c d Hans-Joachim Dietz: 85 years of the Neandertal nature reserve.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. LÖBF announcements 4/2006.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  13. Interview: News from the Neanderthals. In: November 14, 2000, accessed November 17, 2018 .
  14. Directory and demonstration of Brochaußer Zehnden belonging to Hauß Unterbach , 1609 (original lost), copy in: Archive Haus Unterbach , files 17 (quoted from: Eggerath, Rose: Im Gesteins , p. 16)
  15. ^ Burkhard Dietz (Ed.): Erich Phillip Ploennies, Topografica Ducatus Montani 1715 Neustadt a. d. Aisch 1988, Part I, p. 88 f.
  16. ^ City of Erkrath (ed.): Hochdahl. 1989, p. 52.
  17. Contributions to the statistics of the Herzogthumes Berg, publication run 1, 1802–1805 (1806?), From issue 1 (1802), digitized on Google Books
  18. ^ Mettmanner Zeitung from 1887, quoted from: Gert Kaiser, Neanderthal a. a. O, p. 18 f. (from: Ackermann: Joachim Neander , Grupello Verlag 1997)
  19. A reconstruction of the original state (picture bar: picture 3 of 26) is contained in: Hanna Eggerath: Im Gesteins - the original Neandertal in pictures from the 19th century (with photos by Anton Rose, 2nd supplemented and revised edition of the Cologne 1996 edition) . Bergische Forschungen 26 (Ed .: Bergischer Geschichtsverein eV), Düsseldorf 2012.
  20. a b c d e f g h i Ralf W. Schmitz, Jürgen Thissen: Neandertal - The story goes on. Spectrum - Akademischer Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-8274-1345-1 .
  21. ^ City of Erkrath (ed.): Hochdahl. 1989, p. 30.
  22. a b c d e f Neanderthal project. In: August 15, 2018. Retrieved November 17, 2018 .
  23. ^ City of Erkrath (ed.): Hochdahl. 1989, p. 32 ff.
  24. ^ "The error of Rudolf Virchow - 150 years ago the Neanderthal was discovered" - German Foundation for Monument Protection
  25. Searching for traces in the Düssel valley. ( Memento of October 24, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  26. ^ Archeology In the footsteps of the Neanderthal FAZ September 9, 2009
  27. a b Map service for protected areas in Germany . , Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( LANIS-Bund ), accessed and received on April 19, 2016 (German, geographic base data from the BKG ).
  28. Landscape plan of the Mettmann district
  29. a b Website of the Neandertal game reserve
  31. a b website of the Neanderthal Museum
  32. ^ Website of the Regiobahn
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on November 4, 2007 .