Prehistory of Bavaria

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The prehistory of Bavaria covers the period from the earliest human appearance in today's Free State of Bavaria during the Paleolithic Age to the beginning of early history , which began in Bavaria with the emergence of written sources during the Roman Empire . During the prehistoric epochs, there were already preferred settlement areas that are similar to those of the more recent history of Bavaria . The Danube Valley played an important role at all times : initially as an assumed route of the immigration of the Cro-Magnon people , later (after the Neolithic ) increasingly as a long-distance trade route. In contrast, the development of settlements in the low mountain ranges did not take place until the pre-Roman Iron Age .

Old Stone Age

Early Paleolithic

Traces of settlement from the Old Paleolithic (approx. 600,000–300,000 before today) have not yet been clearly documented in Bavaria. The main reason for this lies in the fact that stone implements from this period can often only be dated beyond doubt via the layer context , while surface finds provide only few diagnostic criteria for narrowing down the age of the tools. Sediment sequences of the entire Middle Pleistocene could be documented in the loess pit of Attenfeld (district of Neuburg-Schrobenhausen) and in the brickworks of Hagelstadt (district of Regensburg). Unfortunately, in Attenfeld only controversial were stone tools found, such as the 1989 abgesammelte from profile "prototype hand-ax " of quartzite . The layer context in the loess sequence places it in the early Minde Ice Age , but the majority of prehistorians today regard the piece as a geofact .

There have been various individual finds of hand axes from river terraces and their gravel bodies. However, none of these finds has been found in a surrounding sediment, which allows an unambiguous dating. Writes Wolfgang Weißmüller in 2002: "Profile of archaeological relics are in the Bavarian Danube area only for the period after the last interglacial period ... available."

A revision of the objects that come from secured terraces of the Middle Pleistocene and thus provide geological arguments for their age limits their number and thus the evidence for the presence of Homo heidelbergensis or the early Neanderthal man in Bavaria. Only for the hand ax from Wörleschwang (district of Augsburg) is there a high probability that it is located in the Middle Pleistocene due to its location on the plateau from the crack period - 60 m above the current valley floor of the Zusamtal . At Schweiklberg ( Vilshofen an der Donau ), a cleaver is documented as a typical tool of the Acheuleans , in addition to a hand ax , while the other inventory shows no definable features from the excavators' point of view.

Middle Paleolithic

Individual finds from gravel bodies
Hand ax from Wörleschwang

Hand axes with form-based features that were ascribed to the Acheuléen (300,000 - 130,000 before today) are available, for example, from the districts of Ried ( hand ax from Ried ), Biburg (district of Kelheim), Saal an der Donau , Schweiklberg and Wörleschwang (district of Ried ) . Augsburg). According to François Bordes, typical features of hand axes were derived from the shape and proportions that he had postulated in the 1950s to distinguish between hand axes of the last and penultimate glacial periods. For example, the hand axes from Pösing, Biburg and Saal can be assigned to a middle to upper Acheuléen due to their elongated heart- to almond-shaped outline, although the hand ax from Saal clearly stems from low terrace gravel from the Würm Ice Age.

According to more recent work, an upper time limit for hand ax shapes in the Jung-Acheuléen can only be drawn in the middle of the last glacial period. Because würmzeitliche gravel are open far more often than the older cold periods are most isolated hand axes found, therefore, likely in the early Würm to date (before today approximately 100,000 to 65,000). In addition to the hand ax from Wörleschwang, the hand ax from Pösing (Lkr. Cham) is another, but also not proven exception. The find comes from gravel from the rain in the Cham-Further Senke , which can possibly be dated to the Riss glaciation (200,000 - 130,000 before today). This would make it the oldest known archaeological find in the Upper Palatinate . The original is exhibited in the Historical Museum in Regensburg , where its age is given as 250,000 years. Other age data assume (strongly rounded) 100,000 years, since the last shift of the surrounding gravel is assumed to be in the Eem warm period . Also of interest are hand axes from the Beixenstein cave ruins below the Hünenring fortification section near Ried (Eichstätt district), which are made from high -quality Jura hornstones . These were found at the base of the cave layers , with the archaeologist Karl Heinz Rieder also considering the preservation of pre-worm-age sediments.

The dilemma of a missing stratigraphy also affects the roughly 100 scree devices picked up on the surface from Weißenbrunn (OT Hummendorf) and from the Wachtersmühle (both districts of Kronach ), which are exhibited in the prehistoric and early historical collection of the University of Erlangen. Based on morphological criteria, the finds were initially placed in the Early Paleolithic and later in the Middle Paleolithic . The objects classified as artifacts ( chopper and chopping tools ) made of gravel from the Rodach were mostly made from flat Lydite debris . The location on the 25 m or 40 m terrace of the Rodach speaks in favor of a classification at the "end of the Riss-Würm interglacial ", despite the fact that these are surface finds .

Neanderthal fossil finds

The oldest human remains in Bavaria date from the early Würm Ice Age : In layer M2 of the Sesselfelsgrotte near Essing , a fragment of a milk molar (m2 sup. Sin. ) Of a Neanderthal man (fossil name Sesselfelsgrotte 2 ) was found, which according to the layer context is at least 70,000 years old is. Another Neanderthal milk molar (m2 inf. Sin.) From the G-layers comes from the same cave , and according to this class it is around 50-40,000 years old (fossil name Sesselfelsgrotte 3 ). In addition, there is the partially preserved skeleton of a Neanderthal fetus , which was apparently deposited in a pit within the G-layers (fossil name Sesselfelsgrotte 1 ). Manfred Moser from Regensburg found a strongly S-shaped curved collarbone fragment , for which the abbreviation “Neuessing 3” was suggested and which possibly originates from a Neanderthal man , in the lower Klausen cave , which lies diagonally across the valley . A now lost primary incisor of a Neanderthal man from the Klaus niche was published in 1936 by Wolfgang Abel . A wisdom tooth (m3 inf. Dex. ) From layer F2 of the cave ruins of Hunas ( Hersbrucker Land ), which was initially also attributed to the Neanderthal, was classified as a recent Homo sapiens .

Excavation inventories of the early and middle Würm Ice Age

The most extensive Middle Paleolithic inventory in Bavaria with a total of around 400,000 artefacts comes from excavations in the 1960s and 1970s at Speckberg near Meilenhofen (remains in the State Archaeological Collection ). Neanderthals also visited caves in the Franconian Alb: In the Hohlen Fels near Happurg and the Petershöhle near Hartenstein (both districts of Nuremberg Land ), Konrad Hörmann, at the time custodian of the NHG , found Middle Paleolithic artifacts and remains of Ice Age fauna as early as the beginning of the 20th century . The Kühloch near Königstein (Lkr. Sulzbach-Rosenberg) also contained tools and animal bones from the Neanderthal period.

As a settlement area, the lower Altmühltal in Bavaria has the greatest density of sites of the Würm Age Middle Paleolithic:

  • Moustérien finds from an excavation in 1915 have come down to us from the Großer Schulerloch .
  • During excavations in the armchair cave from 1964 to 1981 settlement layers with flint artefacts of the Moustérien and Micoquien were found.
  • The Klaus niche (opposite Neuessing) was used by Gerhard Bosinski to designate the wedge knife type "Schambach", which he also used to define an inventory type of Micoquien. According to him, the cave stone near Schambach represents another inventory type of the micoquia .
Late Middle Paleolithic leaf tips

The vineyard caves near Mauern (OT. Von Rennertshofen ) in the dry valley of Wellheim form the richest place of the Blattspitzen group (about 60-40,000 before today) in Bavaria . The first Middle Paleolithic finds have been found here since 1935 by the Neuburg district home keeper Michael Eckstein. Excavations were carried out in 1937 under the direction of Robert Rudolf Schmidt , 1937–1939 by Assien Bohmers and 1947–1949 under the direction of Lothar Zotz .

Five Middle Paleolithic leaf tips from the Oberneder Cave (near Essing ) attest to stays in the late Middle Paleolithic. Despite the disrupted stratification, two Jerzmanowice peaks as well as a massive bone point prove that this cave was subsequently settled in the early Upper Palaeolithic . Late-Middle Paleolithic leaf tips are also available from Klausennische , from Kösten (OT from Lichtenfels , Upper Franconia) and from Metten , Albersdorf (OT from Vilshofen ) and Flintsbach-Hardt (OT from Winzer ) in Lower Bavaria. While Lothar Zotz and Gisela Freund coined the term “presolutre” for this type of inventory from the late Middle Paleolithic, Wolfgang Weißmüller wrote about the Szeletien here, referring to Eastern Central Europe . Weißmüller also names the following Bavarian sites with leaf tips: the “Steinerner Rosenkranz” cave (district of Eichstätt ), Eitensheim (“Windhöhe” corridor), the Buchberg cave near Münster (Lower Bavaria) and Offenberg . There is also the Zeitlarn site near Regensburg .

Upper Paleolithic


The older Aurignacien was found near Regensburg at the Keilberg Church, which also documents the earliest settlement of the Bavarian Danube region by anatomically modern humans ( Cro-Magnon humans ). There are also finds of the Aurignacien in the Fischleiten cave near Mühlbach (Gde. Dietfurt an der Altmühl ), the Oberneder cave (near Essing) and from the surface discovery site Vornbach (district of Passau) on a plateau above the Inn.

Venus of walls

During the excavations carried out in the vineyard caves near Mauern in 1948/49, finds from the Gravettia were recovered in addition to Middle Paleolithic finds in the upper layers , including on August 24, 1948 the Venus von Mauern , a 7.2 centimeter tall limestone figure colored with red chalk (found on outer slope between caves 2 and 3). This so-called Venus figurine was found by Christoff von Vojkffy , who was involved in the excavation .

Another of the Gravettian finds, which are rare in Bavaria, is the Abri in the village (also "Abri 1" or "Abri Schmidt", after the landowner K. Schmidt) on the edge of the valley of Essing (Lkr. Kelheim). The only excavation to date was carried out here in 1959 by Olaf H. Pruefer ( Cleveland Museum of Natural History, USA) and the Erlangen prehistorian Lothar Zotz . An object made of mammoth ivory from the basal find layer ( layer E ) bears a resemblance to the devices known as “shovels” from Pavlov and Předmostí (suburb of Přerov ). Such objects are only known from Pavlovia , the Moravian facies of the Gravettian region. Therefore, the shovel from Abri 1 gives the most important indication of the classification of the foundational layer.

A gravettia discovery site that has only been partially investigated is located near Salching (district of Straubing-Bogen), which is typologically meaningful due to the discovery of a so-called Font-Rôbert tip. A blade scratch was found in loess deposits in Spardorf near Erlangen, which is also attributed to Gravettien.

Time of the last cold peak of the Würm Ice Age

The Speckberg near Meilenhofen contained not only the extensive inventory of the Middle Paleolithic but also layers from the Upper Palaeolithic. Despite the stratigraphically often unclear relationship, this inventory can very probably be assigned to a late Upper Palaeolithic, with echoes of Badegoulien . The burial from the Middle Klausen Cave near Essing, which is also the oldest surviving burial in Germany, dates from the same time horizon (shortly after the cold peak of the Würme Ice Age) . Due to a blade tip, which by the excavators as grave goods was considered, presented Ferdinand Birkner 's grave in the Solutré level . Radiocarbon dating of a bone carried out later at Oxford revealed 18,590 ± 260 BP ( OxA-9856 ) ( 14C years ). The radiometric age confirms the time horizon of the late Solutréen, but the tip of the leaf was later assessed on the basis of typological criteria as late Middle Paleolithic and not belonging to the grave.


The Magdalenian in Bavaria - apart from a few uncertain old sites - is limited to the Danube region and its side valleys (Lower Altmühltal, Lower Naab Valley ). From the Middle Klause with find horizons of the middle and late Magdalenian comes an ornate perforated rod showing the frontal face of a bison ("en face"). A number of artefacts have also been found in two layers of the Magdalenian in the Upper Klausen Cave. The Magdalenian inventory of the Kastlhang cave near Prunn (OT Pillhausen) was recovered from unsystematic excavations between 1888 and 1907. There are also a number of Magdalenian sites on the valley edges of the Danube and Naab in the vicinity of Regensburg. These include the Barbing open-air station and the tunnel cave near Sinzing (both districts of Regensburg). In the Nördlinger Ries , the site is on the Kaufertsberg near Appetshofen (district of Donau-Ries).

An engraved limestone slab from the Hohlenstein (municipality of Ederheim , district of Donau-Ries) shows a horse's head and three schematic female silhouettes of the Gönnersdorfer type (late Magdalenian). Lines on the rock walls of the Mäanderhöhle (district of Bamberg), known as engravings from the Magdalenian period, have not yet been confirmed.

For the Magdalenian in northern Bavaria, only one site of the Franconian Switzerland was brought into the field (Rennerfels, Layer VI), which was later revised.

Late Paleolithic

In the Amberger Valley, the Upper Palatine hills , the Regnitztal , the Donaumoos and parts of Lower Bavaria there are a large number spätpaläolithischer find sites that "in Bavaria commonly called back lace-groups " are referred to. The local researcher Werner Schönweiß introduced the term " Atzenhofer Group" for Franconia and the Upper Palatinate in 1974 . The eponymous site is on a dune in today's Fürth , which according to Schönweiß can be dated to the end of the Younger Dryas , which would correspond to the late Ahrensburg culture (northern Germany). For Fürth-Atzenhof, the prehistorian Friedrich Naber later assumed an "early post-glacial age" of the dune, that is, he puts the back tip inventory of the main find layer in the early Mesolithic. As a result, the term “Atzenhofer Group” would be unsuitable for naming the entire “back tip groups”, since inventories with back tips existed for a much longer period of time - around three to four thousand years. Naber therefore proposed a division into the "Colmberger Group" in 1974, which he synchronized with the Alleröd Interstadial and referred to synonymously as the End Paleolithic, which was followed by the narrower “Atzenhofer Group” of the Epipalaeolithic (here in the sense of the Early Mesolithic).

Regardless of local terminology suggestions, the “back tip groups”, which encompass the entire Postmagdalenia in Bavaria, can hardly be reconciled with the nationally common term penknife groups , which is otherwise only used for finds in the Alleröd Interstadial . In Northern Bavaria, it is assumed that the tips of the backs will run into the early Mesolithic. This can be seen at the Sarching site (district of Regensburg), where there is both a late Paleolithic find horizon and a stratigraphically overlying early Mesolithic find layer with peaks. In comparison, only the trend towards miniaturization (“ microlithisation ”) of this key form can be determined, but there is no difference in the form and type of retouching.


Early Mesolithic

By definition, the early Mesolithic begins with the beginning of the Holocene , i.e. after the end of the last ice age cold snap ( Younger Dryas ). In terms of tool inventory, there is no significant difference between the late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic in Bavaria. Several such early Mesolithic open-air sites have been excavated since the 1970s in sand dunes on the right bank of the Danube in the districts of Barbing and Sarching (district of Regensburg). In Sarching, the early mesolithic find layer with peaks in the back is based on 14 C-dated charcoal from about 8800 BC. Dated. As a result, there is a chronological duration of about 4000 years for the Bavarian back tips.

Large-scale excavations to the early Mesolithic were carried out in 2005 near the Hopfensee in the Allgäu . The site had been known since the 1980s through various probes. It is part of a Mesolithic settlement landscape, which also includes the Forggensee . The tiered structure of the southwest German Beuronia for the early Mesolithic did not find its way into Bavarian terminology.

Late Mesolithic

For a long time, the term Tardenoisien was used supraregionally for the late Mesolithic , only in Bavaria this term has been used in more recent times.

The discovery of a “skull nest” of 33 head burials in the Great Ofnet cave near Nördlingen was significant at the beginning of the 20th century . Since this form of prehistoric partial burial was only known from the cave of Mas d'Azil at the beginning of the 20th century , the finds were initially attributed to Azilien (the end of the Paleolithic). The skulls were later identified by radiocarbon dating to around 7700 BC. BC and thus dated to the late Mesolithic .

The civil engineer and hobby archaeologist Carl Gumpert carried out excavations in the abrises of Franconian Switzerland and the Lower Altmühltal in the 1920s , on the basis of which he structured the regional Mesolithic . In the years 1963–1964, the prehistorian Friedrich Naber undertook further excavations in abrises in Franconian Switzerland, many of which had already been destroyed by unscientific excavations in the context of layers. The Abri Scheile Wand in Bärental , which, in addition to typical microliths, also contained traces of settlement from the Mesolithic Age, had an intact stratigraphy .

There are also settlement chambers of the Mesolithic in Haspelmoor , on the edge of the Munich gravel plain and the Donaumoos .


Early Neolithic

Immigrants of the early Neolithic culture with linear ceramics (LBK) settled shortly after 5500 BC. BC first settled on Bavarian territory. The preference for climatic favored areas meant that the fertile loess areas along the larger rivers Danube, Main and Isar were settled. According to the current state of research, the first settlement chamber of the oldest linear ceramics (ÄLBK) of the Free State was in Mainfranken , the earliest 14 C data come from Schwanfeld (district of Schweinfurt). Until recently, the continuity in parts of the material culture (flint processing, rock tools) was considered an indication of population continuity since the late Mesolithic. However, new comparisons of the mtDNA and the genome of mesolithic and early peasant cultures contradict a mixture and speak in favor of colonization by band ceramicists including cattle brought along.

During ribbon ceramics, there are three major plateaus in the calibration of 14 C data, namely from 5620 to 5480 calBC (BC), 5470–5320 calBC, and 5300–5060 calBC. Approximately the same old 14 C data from Bruchenbrücken ( Wetterau ) suggest the end of immigration to the Untermain from the north. The immigration route favored on the basis of 14 C data and lithic raw materials led down the Elbe from Bohemia to Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and from there to the Wetterau. ÄLBK pioneer settlements were also excavated in the districts of the Lower Franconian towns of Buchbrunn (district of Kitzingen) and the Middle Franconian towns of Wallmersbach and Dittenheim . In addition to the long-known settlements of Zilgendorf and Altenbanz, another large settlement belonging to the oldest LBK was examined in 2010 in the municipality of Bad Staffelstein (Upper Franconia). The 14 C-data of the Franconian sites indicate an earlier beginning of oldest ceramic settlements than in the southern Bavarian settlement chambers, which are located in the southwestern Nördlinger Ries , the confluence of the Isar and the Gäuboden .

For the oldest and older LBK in Bavaria, there were supra-regional exchange relationships, which is indicated, among other things, by Silex networks. Settlements of the younger LBK (for example in Bergheim , Lkr. Schrobenhausen), on the other hand, document the use of local raw materials, in this case from local Jurassic chert .

In contrast to the late Mesolithic, the linear ceramic grave fields in Bavaria reflect the typical burial customs of settled cultures for the first time in the region. The profound change is also evident in the construction of long houses and in new religious ideas. The latter can be found, for example, in the Jungfernhöhle near Tiefenellern , where secondary burials were laid in the younger band ceramics .

Middle Neolithic

The linear ceramic band followed around 4900 BC. The Middle Neolithic with the stitch band ceramics (StBK), which developed continuously from the previous culture. The motifs on the vessels, which were partly identical to the LBK during the early phase, were no longer scratched into the damp clay, but rather stabbed with bone awls . A well-known site from this time is, for example, Regensburg- Harting. Jura chimneys have been mined in shafts in the Bavarian Danube region since the Middle Neolithic. The most impressive find spot is the flint mine of Abensberg-Arnhofen . There were also mining sites for a lithologically typical deposit on the outskirts of Flintsbach .

In Lower Bavaria and Bohemia as far as the Pilsen Basin , it was created somewhat later than the stitch band ceramics from around 4800 BC. The ceramics of the Oberlauterbach group with an independent vessel decoration (after Oberlauterbach, district of Landshut ). Klaus Hautmann first worked out a five-level structure of the ceramic finds from the end of linear ceramics to the beginning of Münchshöfen culture . The ceramic style leads from “real” Bohemian stitching ceramics to a Bavarian variant (partly together with part of the Oberlauterbach development called the Middle Southeast Bavarian Middle Neolithic ) to the Oberlauterbach style in the sense of Peter Bayerlein. The conclusion is ceramics in " Maginger Art".

In 2011, 28 sites with graves were known from the Bavarian Middle Neolithic. Significant settlements of the Oberlauterbach group are Kothingeichendorf , Künzing -Unternberg, Geiselhöring and Hienheim (district of Kelheim). According to Florian Eibl, the district ditch systems of Kothingeichendorf and Künzing were built using stitch band ceramics, since fragments from the Oberlauterbach group can only be found in the upper part of the trench fillings. The shards only date the backfilling of the trenches, but not the use phase of the facilities. The same applies to the district ditch of Stephansposching , district Deggendorf.

Fragments of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastic have become known from settlements of the Middle Neolithic, for example Eggendorf am Walde, Oberpöring, Ergolding-Siechenhausäcker, Straubing-Lerchenhaid or Essenbach-Unterwattenbach.

In Lower Franconia, especially in the Main area, the Middle Neolithic Großgartacher culture followed the linear ceramic band .

Early Neolithic

The beginning of the early Neolithic in Bavaria was marked by the Münchshöfen culture , which is related to the East Central European Lengyel culture . Due to the first jewelry objects made of copper , this culture is alternatively assigned to the early Copper Age in Central Europe. It is named after the Münchshöfen site near Straubing . Large foot shells and so-called mushroom shoulder vessels are typical of the ceramic, which is often decorated with scratch lines. Copper finds from this period are extremely rare; the oldest find in Bavaria is an earring in the double burial of the Straubing waterworks. At the Mitterberg near Mühlbach am Hochkönig there are first indications of copper mining from this period. So far, relatively few graves are known. The youngest section of the Münchshöfen culture ("Spät-Münchshöfen") was mainly spread in Lower Bavaria and at the same time as the Pollinger group to the west . Both groups mark the transition from the early to the late Neolithic, which goes hand in hand with a lack of decoration in ceramics and some new vessel shapes, such as cups and jugs.

The late Münchshöfen culture followed around 3800 BC. The Altheimer Gruppe , named after the earthworks excavated in 1914 from Altheim- Essenbach (Lkr. Landshut). Other earthworks from this period are located in Altdorf (district of Landshut) and Kothingeichendorf (district of Dingolfing-Landau). The ceramics of the Altheimer Group are mainly characterized by the so-called arcade edges and the lack of decoration of the fine ceramics. The oldest wetland settlements ( pile dwellings ) in Bavaria are associated with this culture . The most important pile dwelling settlement of Altheim culture is the prehistoric settlement Pestenacker , one of the three Bavarian sites listed in the UNESCO world heritage site prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps . Other sites of Altheim culture with moist soil conservation are on the rose island in Lake Starnberg (UNESCO World Heritage) and near Unfriedshausen , in the mossed floodplain of the Loosbach near Landsberg am Lech . In 1986 the Unfriedshausen-West site was discovered, which was almost completely excavated between 1994 and 1999 by the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation. A sister settlement was found a few meters south-east of the well-known village during probes between 1999 and 2002. This was named Unfriedshausen-Ost and is permanently preserved in the groundwater as a research reserve. The site is the third of the Bavarian pile dwelling settlements in the UNESCO World Heritage. Secondarily used wood from the 38th and 37th centuries BC BC from the earliest settlement phase of Unfriedshausen-Ost prove that older houses of the Altheim culture must have existed in the vicinity of the site. In addition to settlements on wet soil, there are also settlements on mineral soils in the Bavarian Young Neolithic. Graves from this period are virtually unknown.

Late and late Neolithic

The early Neolithic followed around 3400/3300 BC. The late Neolithic with the Cham culture . In Bavaria this is traditionally attributed to the end of the Neolithic . The settlement focus of the Cham culture is in the Bavarian Danube region, downstream from Ingolstadt and for the first time also includes the edge heights of the Bavarian Forest . The middle Upper Palatinate forms the northern limit of the spread of the Cham culture.

In northern Bavaria in the early 3rd millennium BC BC, on the other hand, there are clear influences of the central German Bernburg culture . In Großeibstadt , three houses of the dead were unearthed, which clearly contained grave goods from the Bernburg culture, for example a typical Bernburg clay drum. The influence of elements of the Western European megalithic culture is also shown by the “Erlanger character stones”. These are several dozen sandstone slabs with incised characters, which were used as a secondary grave border from the Urnfield period. The ornamentation of the stone slabs can, however, be clearly assigned to the megalithic circle of forms of the late or late Neolithic, including sun symbols and stylized carriage representations. Similarities to the late Neolithic menhirs of the Middle Elb-Saale area (today's Saxony-Anhalt) also show the so-called " Ebracher Götze", such as the deep-set, circular eyes and a heavy collar carved out in relief (cf. megalithic culture in Saxony-Anhalt ) . For the statue menhir from Gallmersgarten , stylistic elements of the end Neolithic are also used. In contrast to this, the so-called Bamberg idols are mostly attested only to a pre-Romanesque age. The classification of these sculptures, which were found in 1858 in Gaustadt near Bamberg in the alluvial sand of the Regnitz , is still controversial, since a radiometric determination of the age of the rock itself is not possible.

From the end of the Neolithic there are numerous sites of cord ceramics , mostly burial grounds. The focus of settlement of the Schnurkeramik was on the Danube. Corded ceramics in southern Bavaria include around 120 secured grave ensembles, including five double, two triple and two quadruple burials. Franconian Switzerland was also settled during the Cord Ceramic era, as the settlement on Motzenstein near Wattendorf (district of Bamberg) shows.

The Bell Beaker Culture is the youngest Neolithic culture on the threshold of the Early Bronze Age . The bell beaker culture is represented in Franconia with around 30 discovery sites, in southern Bavaria (south of the Danube) there are more than 130 sites. One settlement focus is in the Danube valley between Regensburg and Künzing, another in the Isar valley and in the Munich gravel plain .

Bronze age

The chronological structure of the South German Bronze Age goes back to the work of Paul Reinecke at the beginning of the 20th century, in which he defined the levels Bz A to Bz D.

Early Bronze Age

The Early Bronze Age (approx. 2200–1600 BC) of southern Bavaria can be divided into an early, developed and late section. The Straubing group begins in the early section (Bz A1a, approx. 2200–2000 BC), but mainly represents the developed Early Bronze Age (Bz A1b, approx. 2000–1800 BC), which in the central Danube region with the Unterwölblinger Gruppe and the classical Aunjetitz culture should be parallelized. Characteristic are women's graves richly decorated with traditional costumes, such as from Parkstetten -Thurasdorf (district of Straubing-Bogen) and warrior graves, for example from Alteglofsheim (district of Regensburg). The end of the developed Early Bronze Age (Bz A2a) is marked by the end of occupancy in the large flat grave fields with their stool graves and large settlements ( e.g. Burgweinting and Viecht ).

The late Early Bronze Age (Bz A2b, Bz A2c, Bz B-older, approx. 1700–1550 BC) is represented by relatively few graves, rather by depots and settlements with ceramics of the Sengkofen / Jellenkofen and Landsberg / Arbon style groups . The end of the Bavarian Early Bronze Age (during stage Bz B) is marked by the abandonment of the hillside settlements and the end of the dumping in hoards.

Middle Bronze Age

It is followed by the Middle Bronze Age (1550-1300 v. Chr.) With the typical tumuli , which in the early Middle Bronze Age (Level Bz B-younger, about 1550 to 1500 v. Chr.) Come up and then massively invested in phase Bz C become. Level Bz C1 (1500–1400 BC) is referred to as the developed Middle Bronze Age, level Bz C2 (1400–1300 BC) as the late Middle Bronze Age with the leading forms of the " Lochhamer circle of shapes". Precious amber necklaces from Asenkofen (part of the municipality of Langenbach, district of Freising) and Ingolstadt are examples of the amber trade during the bronze age of the burial mounds. Barter trade apparently took place with eastern Alpine copper ( Fahlerzkupfer ), which was negotiated to the north. Full-hilt swords with octagonal hilts have their origin in southern Bavaria and spread to southern Scandinavia.

Extensive trade relationships gave rise to hilltop settlements in the Early Bronze Age, such as on the Freising Domberg . These existed until the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, after which fortifications came to the fore. The fortification at Bernstorf ( Kranzberg municipality , Freising district) dates back to the 14th century BC. Chr. Dendro according to the plant was built at the end of the Middle Bronze Age. The felling date of the timber for the fortification was therefore between 1339 and 1326 BC. Near-surface finds of a total of eleven objects made of sheet gold (diadem, breast ornament, belt, needle made of rolled sheet gold) as well as two amber objects picked up from the humus layer within the complex were reported by amateurs in 1998 and 2000 and after authenticity checks were purchased by the State Archaeological Collection . In 2014, the metallurgically high-purity gold finds were unmasked as a modern forgery based on new analyzes, which was confirmed by a further external expert opinion.

Late Bronze Age / Urnfield Age

The Late Bronze Age as a supra-regional name is equated with the Urnfield Age in more recent Bavarian archeology . It corresponds to the levels Bz D to Ha B2 / 3 (approx. 1300–800 BC). The term Late Bronze Age is only used sporadically in Bavaria, for example in a grave of a woman with rich gold jewelry, discovered in 2011 near Weihenstephan (district of Landshut). Century BC Dated.

Within the chronology scheme of the Bronze Age AD by Paul Reinecke, the last stage D was attested to have an independent character and he himself occasionally referred to it as the “end-bronze age urn field stage”. The position of Bz D was not undisputed in the meantime, but today Reinecke's view is again represented and Bz D (sometimes only Bz D2) is referred to as the "early Urnfield period". The urn field culture , plus Hallstatt A and B levels - in the structure developed by Hermann Müller-Karpe and Lothar Sperber - covers a period of around 500 years, from 1300–800 BC. The only thing that was changed was the dating from the end of the Ha A2 including Ha B2 / 3 and the transition from the Hallstatt period to the older one, while maintaining the level structure of Müller-Karpe based on the inventory. According to this, the structure is now divided and dated as follows: Level Bz D (1300–1200 BC) is classified as early, Ha A1 (1200–1100 BC) as older, Ha A2 (1100–1050 / 1020 BC) . BC) as the middle, Ha B1 (1050 / 1020–950 / 920 BC) as the younger and Ha B2 / 3 (950 / 920–850 / 800 BC) as the late Urnfield Period.

A large part of the findings of level Bz D comes from the area of ​​the Riegsee ("Riegseegruppe") and the Munich gravel plain . Outstanding for this time is the cemetery of Zuchering -Ost (City of Ingolstadt) with 520 burials, which has an occupancy from Bz D to Ha B3. The hilltop over the oldest graves in Zuchering is still in the tradition of the Bronze Age. In Franconia, too, Bz D shows a cultural continuity to the Middle Bronze Age. In the Gäuboden and the Lower Bavarian Danube Valley, however, a noticeable depopulation took place in Bz D and Ha A1.

The Munich gravel plain and the Kelheim area are decisive for the fine-tuning of the levels Ha A and Ha B. The Kelheim cemetery alone contained 263 urns.


In the area of ​​the Free State there are a number of fortified hill settlements from the Urnfield period, some of which were re-fortified during the Hallstatt period and the early La Tène period. In most cases, the fortification uses spur layers of suitable mountains, such as on the Ehrenbürg near Forchheim , the Danube arch near Regensburg, the Frauenberg, Wurzberg and Arzberg near Weltenburg , the Schlossberg, Kirchenberg and Hirmesberg above Kallmünz , the Bogenberg near Bogen , the Freisinger Domberg and on the Reisensburg near Günzburg . The Heunischenburg near Kronach was since the 10th century BC. BC (late Urnfield Period) initially a wooden fortification . The stone walling from the 9th century BC BC is the oldest preserved complex with a massive stone wall north of the Alps.

Village settlements in arable areas, which show a transition to the later “mansion” of the Hallstatt period, only become typical in level Ha B2 / 3. Post houses with one or more aisles with 4 to 16 pillars in the attic are occupied, for example, from Plankstetten (Neumarkt district). Rows of stakes near the Roseninsel in Lake Starnberg show settlements near the waterfront.


Cremation is not an exclusively new form of burial from the Late Bronze Age, but it is comparatively rare in the Middle Bronze Age. In the early urn field time (Bz D2) the southern Bavarian " Riegsee group " had a special position, as urns were buried in body-length pits and the additions were deposited in the places of the pits anatomically corresponding to a body grave. New in Bavaria are urn burials from level Ha A1, which were laid out in large cemeteries near the associated settlements. One example is the around 400 urn graves cemetery of Burgweinting (City of Regensburg), which was about 25–50 meters from the Ha A1-era settlement and was connected to it by roads. Other large cemeteries from the Urnfield period were excavated in Zuchering (900 graves), Künzing (650 graves), Hurlach (500 graves) and Kelheim (300 graves).

In addition, there have been - continuously since the Barrow Bronze Age - in Upper Mainland up to level Ha A2 there are still burials in barrows, some with rich grave equipment. Examples of this are the hoods with bronze sheets and other decorative elements from Grundfeld and Schönbrunn (both districts of Lichtenfels), which are proven here in a total of four graves. From Bz D to Ha B2 / B3 there were also body graves without mounds in the area of ​​today's Free State. Stone box graves are rarer and an expression of an exposed social position, such as the grave of Acholshausen (district of Würzburg), which, in addition to 36 clay vessels and two bronze needles of level Ha A2-B1, contained a bronze miniature tank car. The chamber grave of Eggolsheim (Lkr. Forchheim), which was covered with a hill 32 meters in diameter, testifies to the power of the elites. While full-hilted swords were part of the typical equipment of raised graves, other protective weapons (helmets, shields, greaves) were not added to the dead, but deposited in hoards . Four -wheeled ceremonial wagons appear for the first time in two Bavarian tombs ( Hart an der Alz , Lkr. Altötting and Poing , Lkr. Ebersberg). In both cases, the wagons were completely burned to the grave, and swords, bows and arrows as well as rich sets of dishes were added.

In addition, during the urn field time, a high point was recorded in the dumping of the deceased in shaft caves in the Franconian Alb, with interpretations ranging from sacrificial sites to regular burials. The findings of the "Schellnecker Wänd" near Essing were designated as the sacrificial site. Another example, interpreted as a regular burial site, is the Peterloch near Woppental (Gde. Birgland , district of Sulzbach-Rosenberg ). In addition, there are undoubtedly animal burn victims, such as on the Weiherberg near Christgarten (Lkr. Donau-Ries) with thousands of burned skull and foot bones as well as around 6400 urnfield fragments of broken vessels.

Depot finds

In the urnfield time, the depositing of valuables increases sharply, which is in line with the unsettled times across the region. An important site with a total of 12 hoard finds - mainly from the urn field culture - is the Bullenheimer Berg near Ippesheim , on today's border between Central and Lower Franconia. The largest Roherzhort comes from the Rachelburg ( Flintsbach am Inn , district of Rosenheim), which occupied a strategically important location above the Inn Valley and thus on the way from the North Tyrolean copper districts.

The gold sheet cone from Ezelsdorf-Buch (district of Nürnberger Land), one of the four gold hats known today, can also be dated to the Urnfield period (level Ha A2 / B1) . The chance find made in 1953 is a deposit found without any additional finds.

Pre-Roman Iron Age

Hallstatt period

The change from the Urnfield Age to the older Iron Age ( Hallstatt Period, 800–450 BC) is now mainly supported by dendrochronology . For the beginning of Ha C, woods from the wagon grave of Wehringen (district of Augsburg) provide an essential key date, with 778 ± 5 BC. BC (burial mound 8). In the grave furnishings, this contained both Urnfield and Hallstatt style elements, so that the beginning of the Hallstatt period dates back to 800 BC. Is to be set.


The settlement landscape of Bavaria lies in the border area of ​​the eastern and western Hallstatt district . A distinction is made between four regional groups of Hallstatt culture : the Lower Franconian, Upper Franconian and Upper Palatinate groups as well as the Eastern Alb group, which extends into today's Baden-Württemberg. In the 6th century BC Distinctive hillside settlements are built on the Ipf near Bopfingen ( East Alb ) and the Marienberg in Würzburg. The Staffelberg (Gde. Bad Staffelstein , Upper Franconia) has been important since the Neolithic until the late Iron Age . The remains of the fortifications that the Celts have built since the 6th century BC still bear witness to this . BC and renewed several times. A table mountain in southern Upper Franconia that has been inhabited since the Neolithic ( Michelsberg culture , cord ceramics ) is also the honorary citizen near Forchheim . From the 5th century BC A walling of the entire plateau is proven, with a total length of the fortifications of 3.5 km. In the course of the Celtic migrations of the 4th century BC The plant was given up. A similar time ( late Hallstatt to early La Tène period ) can also be assumed for the largely preserved ring wall on the Houbirg near Happurg (district of Nürnberger Land). This 88-hectare plateau was first paved in the Urnfield period, as can be seen from the older embankments with broken fragments from that time.

Only in the past few decades have lowland settlements been excavated alongside the conspicuous hilltop settlements. In Marktbreit (district of Kitzingen), a group of farmsteads with eight houses grouped around a free space was examined. Further examples are Grafenrheinfeld (district of Schweinfurt) and Eching-Moosinning (district of Erding). In the Danube region in particular, so-called rectangle courtyards ("Herrenhöfe") were built, such as in Oberstimm (Lkr. Pfaffenhofen) or Natternberg (Lkr. Deggendorf). There are 177 such systems with rectangular palisade and moat enclosures known, of which about 40 have been archaeologically examined. The youngest manors go back to the springtime atene.


During the Hallstatt culture, burial mounds, some of which were richly decorated with grave goods, shaped the landscape. Wooden grave chambers built at ground level were often covered by a massive stone packing and then covered with earth. The mound was mostly protected from erosion by a rim of stone . Northern and southern Bavaria differ in the arrangement of the burial mounds: While the burial mounds are usually "close to each other" in the north, greater distances are common in the south. Everywhere, however, there is next to the barrows and cremations in pits ( cremation pit graves ) or more rarely fire fill graves (with polls) that are drilled in the spaces between the hills or on the edge of it.

In the early Hallstatt period (Ha C) of Northern Bavaria, cremation still dominated the urnfield tradition, with the corpse mostly being deposited in the western half of the wooden burial chamber. An archaeologically examined and subsequently reconstructed burial mound from the early Hallstatt culture (Ha C) is located in the Geisberger Forest near Naisa (district of Bamberg). In Landersdorf (district of Roth), too, the tumuli were raised again after several burial mounds had been excavated . There are several large burial mounds with a diameter of up to 90 meters in the vicinity of the Marienberg in Würzburg. Excavations took place in Fuchsenbühl near Riedenheim , a little further away , where a wooden burial chamber that was once 5 by 4.5 meters in size was uncovered.

With the beginning of the late Hallstatt period (Ha D1), body burial predominated, which was then the rule from Ha D2 until the early La Tène period. The dead were buried stretched out on their backs south-north (head in the south), mostly in the western half of the burial chamber. To the right of the deceased, the grave goods are lined up on the eastern side of the burial chamber.

Grave equipment

In addition to the jewelry and weapons for the originally fully clothed dead, extensive sets of dishes are typical grave goods. The custom of adding swords is proven in northern Bavaria up to level Ha D1, after which daggers are increasingly appearing in Upper Bavaria and Swabia .

The most striking burials of the late Hallstatt period are wagon graves , which are currently 15 times occupied in Bavaria. If the four-wheeled “ceremonial wagon” was added in full, it was usually placed on the west side of the burial chamber. In some cases (for example Demmelsdorf , Lkr. Bamberg or Großeibstadt , Lkr. Rhön-Grabfeld) only the four wheels of the car were placed around the car body, the grave chamber was then only slightly larger than the car burial. The center distance of the wheels was between 1.20 m and 1.50 m. In Untereggersberg (Kelheim district), among other things, drawbar fittings were found, so that it is assumed that the wagon has been completely added. The dead person was always placed on the car body. The horse harness is at the point where the horses would be positioned in a real team. In fact, horses have only been found buried in two locations in Bavarian Swabia , namely in Aislingen (district of Dillingen an der Donau) and Unterfahlheim (district of Neu-Ulm). In 2011, the Otzing wagon grave (district of Deggendorf) was recovered as a block and freely prepared under laboratory conditions.

Another burial custom of the late Hallstatt period is shown in the shaft caves (so-called “sacrificial caves”) of the Frankenalb , in which correspondingly old skeletons are found. The landfill in shafts and crevices picks up on a regional tradition of the urn field time without there being any direct connection. One example is the Dietersberg cave near Egloffstein (Lkr. Forchheim).

Special findings
Reconstructed " Kosbach Altar " on the edge of the refilled burial mound

In grave mound 9 of a Hallstatt burial field near Kosbach near Erlangen , finds from the older Urnfield period (Ha A, 12th – 11th century BC), the Hallstatt period (Ha CD, 8th – 5th century BC) were found. as well as the Latène period (Lt A, 5th century BC). Before the excavation began in 1913, the burial mound was around 1.55 m high and around 19 m in diameter. At the foot of the hill, the so-called " Kosbach Altar " was built in the more recent Hallstatt period, a square stone setting of 2 × 2 meters with four larger corner stones and a figurative pillar in the middle. The reconstruction of this unique finding can be viewed on site.

During the late Hallstatt period, multiple burials (for example in Niedererlbach , district of Landshut) as well as subsequent burials (Schirndorf , district of Kallmünz , district of Regensburg) were common. In the Ha D2 level, these reburials were often placed in a second wooden chamber, as in the reburial with wagons from Weinsfeld (district of Roth) and Demmelsdorf (district of Bamberg). Grave chambers from the late Hallstatt period in Wehringen (district of Augsburg) and Niedererlbach could be dated to within a few years, as the wood was still preserved in the damp soil environment and could be determined using dendrochronology . Organic artefacts from this period are dated using the radiocarbon method only in the complete absence of other - for example stylistic - features , since as a result of the so-called Hallstatt Plateau between around 750 and 400 BC. Chr. No temporally resolvable measured values ​​can be achieved in this time range.

A mounted clay figure, the Speikerner rider , was found as a grave object in the “Schallerholz” burial mound field near Speikern , a current part of the municipality of Neunkirchen am Sand (district of Nürnberger Land).

La Tène time

The transition to the Latène period does not represent an abrupt change in either north or south Bavaria. Settlements and burial grounds from the late Hallstatt period continue, with the trend of the Latène culture spreading from south to north in Bavaria. The hilltop settlements of the Hallstatt period are continued in the early La Tène period. Individual Mediterranean luxury goods indicate extensive trade relationships, e.g. B. on the honorary citizen near Forchheim. A colorful shard of glass from an East Greek perfume bottle was found here (find where it was found: Upper Franconia Archaeological Museum ).

Serious upheavals did not occur until around 410 BC. To be recorded, which lead to the abandonment of many settlements and burial grounds. This unrest period (410-320 BC) is associated with the historically documented Celtic migrations . In place of the subsequent burials in Hallstatt-era burial mounds, shaft graves are now being placed in new places. If the dead location was previously in continuation of the Hallstatt tradition south-north (head in the south), the dead are now buried opposite with the head facing north. Most of them are now single graves. The blatant break with traditions is interpreted as a social-religious upheaval and simultaneous severe depopulation of the country.

It was not until the Latène B2 phase (320–260 BC) that the number of settlements and burial grounds increased again. Rectangular or almost square earthworks , the so-called Viereckschanzen , are widespread in southern Germany (see Viereckschanzen in Bavaria ). From this time on, fortified large settlements, the Oppida, were built . The most prominent example is the Manching oppidum . Individual places from the late La Tène period have come down to us through written sources from the Greeks and Romans. So the cities of Alkimoennis mentioned by Claudius Ptolemy are probably to be equated with the oppidum on the Michelsberg in Kelheim and Menosgada with the oppidum on the Staffelberg. The name "Radaspona" for Regensburg , first documented in the 8th century, probably goes back to a Celtic name from pre-Christian times. The end of the Celtic colonization of Bavaria dates back to the middle of the 1st century BC. BC, which also manifests itself with the end of the Manchinger oppidum. This is followed by the end of the Latène period (Latène D2), which west of the Inn is characterized by a remarkable poverty of archaeological remains. With the Alpine campaign that took place in 15 BC BC reached Bavarian territory, and the subsequent Roman settlement of southern Bavaria began the early history of what is now the Free State, defined by written sources .

See also


  • Ferdinand Birkner : The Ice Age Man in Bavaria. In: Contributions to the anthropology and prehistory of Bavaria. Volume 19, 1915
  • Ferdinand Birkner: prehistoric and prehistoric times of Bavaria. Publisher Knorr & Hirth, Munich, 1936
  • Hansjürgen Müller-Beck : The Upper Old Paleolithic in Southern Germany. Part 1. Text. Habelt in commission, Bonn 1957
  • C. Sebastian Sommer (Ed.): Archeology in Bavaria - window to the past. Pustet, Regensburg, 2006, ISBN 3-7917-2002-3
  • Walter Torbrügge , Hans Peter Uenze: Pictures to the prehistory of Bavaria. Constance / Lindau / Stuttgart (Thorbecke), 1968
  • Thorsten Uthmeier : Micoquia, Aurignacia and Gravettia in Bavaria. Archaeological Reports, Volume 18. Bonn, 2004
  • Wolfgang Weißmüller : Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age on the Bavarian Danube between Lech and Inn - an overview. In: Karl Schmotz (Hrsg.): Lectures of the 20th Lower Bavarian Archaeological Day. Verlag M. Leidorf, Rahden / Westf., 2002, pp. 165-201 ISSN  1438-2040

Web links

Individual evidence

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