Mysterious Circular Structures and a Vanished Culture in the middle of Europe

Here comes some news of a mysterious culture that lived in the middle of Europe in 5500 BC and that has vanished in leaving only little traces.

Indeed four circular trenches of two meters depth and 20 to 130 meters in diameter have been found near the city of Dresden, Germany, in the small suburb of Nickern. They seem to date from this high culture that once lived in the humid valleys close to the Elbe. What was found is surprising and might change our view on prehistoric civilization in the middle of Europe.

Archaeologists discovered an early complex of at least four independent circular ‘places’ around the Gebergrund, a valley that leads a small river to the large Elbe River. The Elbe River at the time, and even now, is unregulated and tends to flood its surrounding meadows. So if you want to live in the area, you won’t settle close to the Elbe, but close to a smaller watercourse, that gives you drinking water, but won’t destroy your village.

It seems that is what people did in prehistoric times. The circular trenches, that have been found, are thought to be dating from 5500-4500 BC and to be connected to the early Linear Pottery culture. In the past 50 years, numerous traces of settlements of this Linear Pottery culture have been found on the southern slopes of the Dresden Elbe Valley district. The sites are very probably connected with about 150 similar sites of this early high culture in Central Europe. According to current knowledge, comparably large constructions were only rebuilt during the Bronze Age about 3000 years later.

A certain hype about this yet unknown civilization has been felt. A problem remains however that no one knows exactly what the ditches were there for. It may be that the circular trenches of Dresden protected a market place or a village, may be, however, they were also of religious importance. No written traces have survived.

One thing is sure. The excavations in Dresden brought to light tools made of stone, bone and wood as well as ceramic figures of people and animals. “The builders of the trenches were farmers who cultivated crops,” said Christoph Heiermann from the Dresden State Office for Archaeology to the Spiegel. “Some of the houses were longer than 30 metres. They lived organized, they weren’t shaggy savages.”

Just as puzzling as the purpose of the ditches seems to the archaeologists their rapid emergence and disappearance. “They were only used in a narrow time corridor of 200 years.” Similarly monumental structures only reappeared thousands of years later. It remains hence yet to be discovered, if the people of this high culture have been driven out of the area or if they just changed behavior or religion. For the moment the mystery is entire…

Image: The Gebergrund close to Dresden, where the ancient traces have been found (c) Blobelt

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