Sacrificial Moor Niederdorla

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Coordinates: 51 ° 9 ′ 55 "  N , 10 ° 26 ′ 43"  E

Sacrificial moor Vogtei
The sacrificial moor near Niederdorla with a stylized god figure

The sacrificial moor near Niederdorla with a stylized god figure

location Thuringia , Germany
Location Niederdorla
Sacrificial moor Vogtei (Thuringia)
Sacrificial moor Vogtei
When about 6th century BC BC - 11th century AD
Where Niederdorla , Unstrut-Hainich district
displayed Archaeological open-air museum Sacrifice moor Vogtei

The sacrificial moor of Niederdorla (also known as sacrificial moor Oberdorla and sacrificial moor Vogtei ) is a prehistoric place of worship in a shallow lake north of Niederdorla in the Thuringian Unstrut-Hainich district . It is located in the Vogtei southwest of Mühlhausen in the district of Oberdorla , about 200 m from the northern outskirts of Niederdorla . In the Hallstatt period , the sacrificial moor was used by a population whose descendants were absorbed by the Rhine-Weser Teutons . The prehistoric and early historical cult sites of the sacrificial moor were archaeologically examined between 1957 and 1964. Finds and findings are made accessible to a broad public by the sacrificial moor museum in Niederdorla and the open-air museum on the sacrificial moor.

Creation of the sacrificial moor

The depression is a leaching depression of the Middle Muschelkalk , in which groundwater collected and a swamp and open water areas of around 700 m × 200 m formed. The Flachsee silted up and mossed up. From the deposited sediments and peat the beginning of the silting with 100 BC could be determined. Be developed. The peat was mined from 1947 and the lake was enlarged to its present size and shape. In the course of the peat extraction, the prehistoric legacies were found.

Map sections for localization

Archaeological research

Excavations under Günter Behm-Blancke , director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History of Thuringia in Weimar , uncovered circular fences made of hazel rods, in the centers of which there were altars, cult poles and figures of gods, so-called pole idols . The excavations also unearthed numerous bones of horses, cattle, sheep, goats, but also people as well as weapons, a cult boat and various everyday objects and tools. Animal and human sacrifices can be assumed. The lake sanctuary is assigned supraregional importance, as the finds could not be assigned to a specific tribe, but come from all parts of the Germania of that time. In the 1st century BC The Hermunduren built a round sanctuary in the sacrificial moor, which was a large central sanctuary during the migration period . Not far from the sacrificial moor, in the Mahllindenfeld, the largest prehistoric settlement in Thuringia was excavated. This served as a model for the buildings in the museum village.

Interpretation of the finds

The dating of the finds revealed a cultic use of the lake from the Hallstatt period in the 6th century BC. Until long after Christianization , occasionally until the 11th and 12th centuries AD.

Hallstatt period

A rectangular fire altar made of shell limestone , surrounded by a semicircular wall of stones and earth, represents the religious center of the early period. On the altar , food offerings were offered in vessels. Charred buds on the firewood date the rituals, which apparently took place in honor of a vegetation deity, to spring. The altar can be compared with old and older structures in the north-western Alpine region and with early Greek fire altars .

Next to the altar was a walled round sanctuary, in the center of which a deity was placed in the form of a stele , to which goats, among other things, were sacrificed. In the sacred area of ​​the late Hallstatt period , there were also small oval sacrificial sites whose floor plans were delimited by layers of stone or rods. Some were equipped with small wooden idols in the form of blocks. One of the idols included an ornate choker. A large loom weight indicated that the revered power was feminine. Painted vessels refer typologically to relationships with the Rhineland.

La Tène period

Reconstructed altar with cattle skull

During the middle and late La Tène period , a small lake was created, which for centuries became the center of sacrificial practice: numerous sanctuaries of various shapes, which could be reconstructed using the preserved wooden parts, were built on the lake shore from the La Tène to the Migration Period created. Even after the lake was potted in the late migration period, the ritual activities continued.

During the La Tène period, the descendants of the Hallstatt population were exposed to Celtic impulses. Apse-shaped structures, such as those recognized in the Trier temple district, are now also common on the Niederdorla sacrificial moor. Inside one of the enclosures there was a small turf or plague altar supported by wattle, on which a high pole or simple pole idols were erected. The altars were accompanied by cult staves that the priest used when performing the ritual. The cult ensemble, which was shaped by Celtic models, was briefly replaced by a »sanctuary« with a phallus and a female branch fork idol. It is a sacrificial site of Germanic immigrants who, as evidenced by the ceramic finds, came from the Oder-Warthe area.

German times

1st century BC Chr.

Place of worship 5th century AD. Ship sanctuary
Memorial stone for Prof. Dr. Günter Behm-Blancke on the Vogtei sacrificial moor

End of the 1st century BC The Hermundures appeared in Northern Thuringia . At the Kultsee they founded a large round sanctuary with small self-contained enclosures in which cult stakes and a branch fork idol were also set up. In the center of the complex, which experienced two construction periods, was a large rectangular wooden altar with corner posts. There were numerous bones of animal sacrifices in its vicinity. On the western border of the sanctuary, parts of the skulls of sacrificed people showed. On the north side of the sanctuary there were two special sacrificial sites that show a vertically positioned sword and a human skull. Around this time Tacitus mentions a dispute between the Hermunduren and the Chattas on the Werra . After the battle, from which the Hermunduren emerged victorious, the sacrifice activity at the lake continued.

Roman Imperial Era During the middle of the Roman Empire, the focus was on the worship of various gods, identified by their idols and attributes, in common round shrines. The period when sacrificial sites were concentrated on several gods was followed by an isolated sanctuary in the 3rd century. Near the altar was a wooden idol of a goddess that shows Gallo-Roman influences. The goddess is comparable to the Roman Diana, who also received stag and boar offerings. The goddess of the 3rd century had a forerunner in the older sanctuaries of the sacrificial moor. Ox bones have also been found in a large pile of pet victims . Connections to the Limes area can be explained by the discovery of the craftsmen's settlement near Haarhausen. It shows the influence of the Roman religion on the Hermunduren, which explains the ox sacrifices and oboluses in the graves of Haßleben. The sanctuary of "Germanic Diana", whose name is perhaps indicated by a sunna rune on a vessel, contained a coffin with a skeleton of a girl. This grave, destroyed in the 4th century, characterizes the importance of the place of worship. The devastation can be connected with the political and religious unrest that apparently accompanied the development of the Thuringians .

Migration period In the 5th century, the cult site was marked by two ship sanctuaries. A male deity, represented by a high stake idol with a horse's head, belonged to the large system made of rods with a buried rudder. A small ship, with a cattle sacrifice, represents the characteristic of a goddess. Ship sanctuaries can also be found in older cult periods. In the late migration period, the sanctuary was a large sacrificial site, the permanent enclosure of which was destroyed by fire at some point. Inside were several victims' objects, but no idol.

Medieval vessels from the 10th and 11th centuries and dog bones from the peat layers indicate that despite Christianization, sacrifices were still made at the traditional sacred site. With the establishment of the Archdeaconate of Oberdorla, the establishment of which probably had to do with the nationally significant pagan cult site, the pagan worship of gods expired.

Importance of the research results

With the help of comparative Indo-European religious research and the inclusion of older finds of a cultic character in Europe, the archaeological findings have produced numerous new insights into the cults of the Hallstatt, La Tène, Roman emperors and the migration of peoples in the Hercynian area.

In some cases, new perspectives were gained in the following areas:

  1. Construction, design and interior arrangement of the sanctuaries of several cultural periods;
  2. Types of idols and cult poles;
  3. Ritual devices;
  4. Animal sacrifices for male and female deities;
  5. Dismemberment victims of people;
  6. Attributes of deities (including hammer types);
  7. Lawn plague altar and altar table.

The elements of the Proto-Germanic and Germanic cult recognized in Oberdorla also allow a comparison with the local folk customs, some of which can be described as a continuation of pagan cult acts.

Museum presentation

Museum village on the Niederdorla sacrificial moor
  • Some of the archaeological finds are available to the public in the sacrificial moor museum, a museum building on the northern edge of Niederdorla. In the neighboring village , a settlement from the 3rd century AD, consisting of a long house (stable house), three pit houses and a granary, has been reconstructed on the western edge of the sacrificial moor. Every year, the Germanic Festival and the Roman Market take place there, which attract numerous Roman and Germanic actors in historical clothing who try to recreate everyday life at the time.
  • The archaeological department of the Museum am Lindenbühl (district home museum) located in the district town of Mühlhausen also provides information about the Niederdorla site.
  • The scientific estate of Professor Behm-Blancke and some of the finds are in the Museum of Prehistory and Early History of Thuringia in Weimar .
  • In the future, visitors to the national park will be able to visit a demonstration on the early history of the Hainich region at the Hüneburg / Hünenteich soil monument near Kammerforst (Thuringia) , which was mainly designed based on findings from the sacrificial moor.

See also



  • Günter Behm-Blancke : Cult places and religion. In: Archeology of the GDR. Volume 1, Urania Verlag, 1989.
  • Günter Behm-Blancke et al .: Shrines of the Teutons and their predecessors in Thuringia - the Oberdorla cult site. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002/2003.
  • Hansjürgen Hermann (Hrsg.): Archeology in the German Democratic Republic. Monuments and finds . Theiss, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-8062-0531-0 , pp. 174-176.
  • Christoph G. Schmidt: Myths, wood and human sacrifice. Traces of pagan cult in Thuringia . In: Heidenopfer, Christ cross, oak cult . Catalog volume for the Bonifatius exhibition. Erfurt 2004, p. 9-37 .
  • Manfred Teichert: Animal remains from the Germanic sacrificial moor near Oberdorla. Weimar 1974.
  • Sigrid DušekOberdorla. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 21, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2002, ISBN 3-11-017272-0 , pp. 466-476.

Web links

Commons : Sacrificial Moor Museum Niederdorla  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files