Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
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Königsaue

Around the campfire with neanderthals

Like many other palaeolithic sites in central Germany, Königsaue was discovered in the course of brown coal stripmining. In 1963 Prof. Dietrich Mania retrieved the first stone tools from the lake sediments. Over the next year, three layers of remains of mid-palaeolithic campsites were brought to light. The tools were found on the north shore of a former lake, Ascherslebener See. Clearly, people had chosen again and again to settle close to the water and left behind stone tools and food-remains. The artifacts were found in the area of a shallow terrace that had formed from dead or washed-up plants at the lakeshore. In all three find-horizons, remains of mammoths, woolly and steppe rhinos, wild horses, red deer and reindeer were found. The remains are of animals that were hunted down by humans, so the finds do not offer much information about how common these animals were in the wild.

We can reconstruct the environment in which the people of Königsaue lived: a steppe of long grasses, mixed with numerous small plants, in colourful bloom in spring and early summer, grazed by large herds and packs of wild horses, wild cattle and deer. Occasionally, herds of reindeer and mammoth passed through, using this as their winter habitat. The three layers are separate from each other, and are evidence for repeated use of this campsite; this is unusual for sites in the open and is a sign of the importance of this place in the early phase of the Würmian glacial period.