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The era of the Sky Disc

Leubingen grave goods
Grave goods from the barrow of Leubingen (Landkreis Sömmerda, Thuringia), around 1942 BC (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Foto: Juraj Lipták)

The first princes

In various regions of Europe at the beginning of the bronze age (2300-1600 BC), certain individuals were buried with great pomp and expense. They were buried in monuments that were often of enormous size, accompanied by luxurious gifts.

However, this burial custom marked out only a few prominent people, both men and women. In central Germany around 2000 BC many of these princely graves were erected, among them the Leubingen barrow. The power of these prominent people was probably based on the wealth of this area, control of the metal trade and also the sources of salt at the river Saale.

The era of the princely graves was short. In central Germany, almost two thousand years would pass before a society once again left archaeological finds that mark out important people in this way.

 

A wide world at the heart of Europe

Thanks to the popularity of amber, copper, tin and gold at the end of the third millennium, trading networks built up across the whole of Europe for the exchange of these sought-after goods. Central Germany sat at the centre of Europe like a spider in the web of trade routes between north and south, east and west. This region itself also had a very exclusive trade good: salt. Finds of rough pottery in which salt was won by evaporation show that salt was already being produced in Halle in the early bronze age.

Most of the copper worked in central Germany in this period came from the eastern Alps. Countless bronzes attest to foreign influences in their forms and decorations - from Ireland, Scandinavia, the Alps and Hungary. At the same time, finds of metal objects from central Germany have been made in Scandinavia, northern Italy and Hungary from the same period.