Megaliths and Settlement Structures in Eastern Holstein during 3500-3700 BC: Trave Valley and Oldenburger Graben


Lage der Mikroregionen „Mittleres Traveteal“ und „Westlicher Oldenburger Graben“ in Schleswig-Holstein
Central Travetal and western Oldenburger Graben in Schleswig-Holstein

A basic aim of the work program is the reconstruction of the early and middle neolithic settlement and grave area and the exploration of the connection between megalithic monuments and settlements in the southern range of the funnelbeaker- northgroup. To this end, two micro regions of Ostholstein were chosen: a coastal area with a distribution of megalithic monuments on both sides of an seemingly linear palaeofjord and a basin-like settlement concentration inlands at the central Trave. The megalithic monuments in the latter case are distributed in the peripheral area of the entire lowland. The natural features of both micro regions and the rich archaeological record offer excellent conditions for illuminating the settlement structure of funnelbeaker communities in different landscapes and the importance of early monumentality in the domain of burials.

For the first time the relation between megalithic tombs, settlements and environment is subject to an investigation for the funnelbeaker northgroup in southern Jutland.

Because of the known mosaic of site distribution in the entire area of the funnelbeaker northgroup the mentioned aim can only be reached by an evaluation of a coastal area compared to an inland region. After preliminary investigations two microregions of Ostholstein have been chosen. The western Oldenburger Graben offers excellent conditions for questions concerning coastal patterns, the central Travetal constitutes a model for inland regions. Due to the wetland conditions in the middle Neolithic settlements of both areas, economic and ecologic aspects can be reconstructed more effective than in other regions.

Subgoals and methods

The following subgoals are relevant both in the western Oldenburger Graben and the central Travetal:

1.       Excavations of a known middle neolithic settlement site with wetland conditions in each area provide an insight into the organization and forms of middle neolithic sites. Both closed finds of settlements with funnelbeaker inventory are explored by scientific methods like archaeobotanical and archaeozoological analyses. Questions, which shall be answered, are: When did the settlement activities start? Which kind of inventory can be found? Which economical system can be identified? Is it possible to reconstruct activity zones and architecture? Can important differences in development of single middle neolithic phases be detected?

2.       Prospections and smaller sondages are conducted in both areas so that results from settlement excavations can be territorially connected with other sites. Thus it is a subgoal to demonstrate territorial correlations between megalithic monuments, depositories and settlements and possibly affirm the missing of a causewayed enclosure .

3.       Excavations of one megalithic tomb in each region should demonstrate the potential which lies within a modern and time-consuming excavation technique. It is expected that questions concerning the progress of development in architecture, the process of deposition both in and in front of the burial chamber and in proximity of the monument, indications of burial rituals and of course the character and length of ritual activities can be answered. Questions to be addressed are: When did the construction of the monuments start? Are there differences between the inventory inside and in front of the burial chambers? Is it possible to distinguish between different layers of occupancy? How long did secondary burials take place?

4.       Pollenanalytical, archaobotanical and sedimentological research help to reconstruct the environmental conditions in both regions. The main questions are: When did the environmental changes caused by the neolithic settlements and the monumental architecture start?  How intensive was the colonization of the funnelbeaker culture? How open was the landscape und how was the visibility of the sites, especially between graves and settlements?

5.       An integrated approach with palaeoecological data and comparisons of structure and inventory from domestic and ritual sites (Excavation data as well as prospection data) is going to show an overall picture of monumental architecture settlement structures and environmental changes in each region, through a GIS-based analysis. The following questions have to be asked: Are there differences between the inventory of sacral and domestic sites? Is it possible to relate single groups of graves to certain settlements? Do territorial connections exist within certain areas? This way, aspects of territorial systems and social differentiations (represented through the monuments) shall be determined as chronologically detailed as possible.

6.       Based on the reconstruction of typo chronologic, ecologic, economic and territoral developments in both regions it is expected, that similarities and differences between coast and inland can be determined through a systematic comparison between western Oldenburger Graben and central Travetal. As a result the reconstruction of neolithic organization of maritime cultural landscape in comparison to inland landscape offers important information to social differentiation and early monumentality.