In central Germany, there is a forgotten prehistoric landmark that is somewhat overshadowed by its British counterpart.
Stonehenge is known around the world, but the wooden edifices at Pommelte are far from a major attraction in Germany, despite this circular settlement being at least as old as the standing stones in England.
Local tourism officials are hoping to change that with a new clay visitor centre built using Early Bronze Age methods, making the so-called Ringheiligtum (“ring shrine”) of Pommelte more welcoming to visitors.
The new visitor centre at the site gives information about the site and the history of the region, although the most impressive part is the structure itself – built with 130 tonnes of clay, tamped down by hand, layer by layer.
The ring-shaped ritual site, south of the city of Magdeburg in former Communist East Germany, is believe to have been used thousands of years ago for astronomical purposes. It was only discovered from the air in 1991 and completely excavated between 2005 and 2008.
It is seen by some archaeologists as “Germany’s Stonehenge” because of its structure, diameter and age. However, unlike its famous counterpart from England, it did not consist of large stones, but of thousands of wooden stakes.
A reconstruction of the original has been open to visitors since 2016 and is free to access all year round. The new clay building meanwhile stands on the spot where a prehistoric longhouse once stood.
The use of Pommelte as a site of rituals is believed to have begun in the late Neolithic period, about 4,800 years ago and ended 3,900 years ago in the Early Bronze Age.
“The new building corresponds to archaeological findings,” says state archaeologist Harald Meller about the new visitor centre.
“This house actually conveys an impression of the Early Bronze Age buildings that we have documented hundreds of times here, in what was then the largest settlement in Central Europe.” – dpa