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Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany


Construction work along the future A14 highway between Dolle and Lüderitz has revealed an urn burial ground from the late Bronze Age.

Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Credit: ct-press
More than 100 cremation burials dating to around 800 BC have been found here, reports chief archaeologist Susanne Friederich, head of the department for the preservation of archaeological monuments at the State Office for Archaeology and Monument Conservation.


"The place obviously served as a 'cemetery' for several villages, whose remains were also found nearby", she said

"The deceased were burned on pyres. Their relatives placed their ashes and bone remains in urns, together with anything which had not been destroyed by fire, such as bronze clasps or jewellery made of metal," excavation leader Anette Schubert explains.

Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Credit: ct-press
"These were then placed in a carefully prepared grave. Each grave, measuring approximately 50 x 50 cm, had been lined with stone slabs both at the bottom and on the sides. The upper edge was either covered with a stone or the urns were covered with a clay bowl."


"Concentrations of bone fragments found in some graves suggest that occasionally vessels made of organic material, such as wood or reeds, were also used as urn. Only in a few individual cases were the burnt human remains loosely scattered in the graves", the expert continues.

About ten kilometres away, a comparable urn grave field was uncovered near Colbitz a few years ago in the course of motorway construction, adds chief archaeologist Susanne Friederich. "While the graves there had been placed in the ground on five superimposed layers, we find a looser distribution of the burials in the Dolle cemetery," she explains.

Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Credit: ct-press
Apparently, the burial site, which today is a two hectare cemetery, was laid out for far more dead, but was used much more briefly than originally planned. Whether people left the region at that time and why is currently being researched. It is possible that a torrential rain washed away the fertile soil, so that no farming was possible for 200 to 300 years.


In the 18th and 19th centuries, local farmers repeatedly came across Bronze Age remains while ploughing. It is unclear where their finds have gone. Probably the clay pots and shards simply landed on the rubbish heaps.

The burials, especially the urns, are recovered on site as small blocks. This ensures that the archaeological work, despite its complexity in the field, is completed quickly.

Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Roadworks uncover Bronze Age urn burial site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Credit: ct-press
"Then the road workers can move in with their heavy machines," says Friederich. "The urns recovered in the block will then be x-rayed by the state office's restoration workshops. Based on this, a procedure for the subsequent documentation will be developed for each urn - depending on the distribution of the individual grave goods and fragments of cremated bodies in it."

Source: Allgemeine Zeitung Online [May 20, 2019]

TANN

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