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09/11/2023 07:00

Archaeologists excavate a 9.000 year old site at Dehlitz, identify hunting camp coeval with the "Bad Dürrenberg shaman"

Dr. Oliver Dietrich Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt - Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte

    Archaeologists of the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt currently excavate a Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) site contemporaneous to the famous “shamam of Bad Dürrenberg” in Dehlitz (Saxony-Anhalt). The c. 9.000 year old findspot is situated at a distance of roughly 6 km to the south of her grave in the Bad Dürrenberg spa gardens. The recovered finds and complexes hint at a temporary, probably repeatedly used hunting camp.

    A dense concentration of Mesolithic surface finds has been known for a long time near Dehlitz, Burgenlandkreis, Saxony-Anhalt. The voluntary archaeologist Wolfgang Bernhardt was able to collect more than 6,000 stone artefacts over five years. For a site from this period, this is a considerable number of finds, which raised questions about site preservation and function. In addition, the site is only about six kilometers as the crow flies from the findspot of the burial of the “Bad Dürrenberg shaman”, the richest Mesolithic grave find in Central Europe, which was accidentally discovered in 1934 in the local spa garden when a water pipe ditch was being laid.

    Since the beginning of August, archaeologists of the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt have been investigating the approximately 9,000-year-old site. Eight excavation squares, each one by one meter in size, were excavated down to the geological subsoil. In addition to numerous artefacts in the plow horizon, an undisturbed find layer and pits could be determined. Numerous stone implements, fragments of bones and antlers were recovered. A large number of microliths, which may have served as tips for hunting arrows, is striking. However, there are hardly any scrapers or tools in Dehlitz that indicate the further processing of hunted prey. The site could have been a hunting camp that was used periodically.

    Due to the spatial proximity to the grave of Bad Dürrenberg, the similarity of the raw material used for the manufacture of the stone tools and the comparable tool shapes, a connection between the hunting camp near Dehlitz and the "Bad Dürrenberg shaman" is obvious. The grave is one of the most spectacular finds in Central European archaeology. About 9,000 years ago, an approximately 30- to 35-year-old woman was buried sitting, with a child of about six months in her arms. A headdress made of deer antlers and animal tooth pendants show the special position of the dead as a shaman, as the spiritual leader of her group. Renewed excavations have been taking place at the findspot since 2019. As part of a multidisciplinary research project, a team of archaeologists, geneticists, anthropologists and physicians was able to reveal numerous new insights into the find. For the first time, the Dehlitz camp provides a more detailed insight into the living environment of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in the region around Bad Dürrenberg and thus decisively supplements the obtained picture.

    More information: Documentary films on the new resear regarding the grave of Bad Dürrenberg (English subtitles)


    The excavation site near Dehlitz.
    The excavation site near Dehlitz.
    Oliver Dietrich
    State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists, Scientists and scholars, Students, Teachers and pupils, all interested persons
    History / archaeology
    transregional, national
    Research projects



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