Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte

Mediaeval Archaeology / Urban Archaeology

Halle, Marktplatz
Halle, redesign of the Marktplatz. Founded in the 12th century, the Marienkirche in Halle stood between the present-day Marktkirche and the Roter Turm ('Red Tower') until the early 16th century. Impressed by the results of the excavations, the authorities of the city of Halle were persuaded to modify the planned design so that as much as possible of the original material in the foundations was preserved. © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt

Archaeological sources are not only of interest for periods with few or no written sources. Documents, records, chronicles and historic images from the Middle Ages and the modern period are often highly tendentious or give information only on certain aspects of human life. Large areas of everyday life, for example, can only be rediscovered through material remains. Even in cases where there is good written evidence, archaeological sources are an important supplement to our understanding of historical circumstances: they are an 'archive in the ground'. While it is generally uncontroversial that old documents and written materials should be preserved, the records of the past that are hidden in the ground are in acute danger of destruction.

The Conservation Officers for Mediaeval Archaeology are responsible for certain individual sites and above all for the cities of Magdeburg and Halle. A characteristic of cities is that they are under special pressure to change, though the settlement remains in the same place. As a result, past building activity had already significantly damaged the archaeological material, but there are still remains present under courtyards and in deep layers of material beneath cellars. Of great concern is the total loss of archaeological remains caused by the deep foundations of buildings put up in the post-war and post-reunification periods, which leave behind nothing but wide areas of 'archaeological desert'. So that future generations are not robbed of an important part of their cultural inheritance, it is necessary that, as well as scientific excavation, greater weight is also given to construction-free areas and construction methods that are more compatible with archaeological conservation.

Halle, redesign of the Marktplatz: When changing the course of pipes and cables and removing earth for the substructures of the square, graves of women and children were uncovered, part of the cemetery of the mediaeval Marienkirche. The damp ground beneath the Marktplatz even preserved the mediaeval wooden coffins. © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt
Halle, Trödel square: In layers up to 9 metres deep, the history of the settlement was preserved without a gap from the 11th to the 13th century. Where excavation areas were large enough, it was possible to see the structure of land plots, and demonstrated that already in the 11th century there was a paved road through the area of wooden buildings. © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt
Magdeburg, east side of the Domplatz: In the spectacular excavations that led to the discovery of an enormous church building from the 10th century, a fragment of a column of cipollino marble was found (quarried on the island of Euboea off the coast of Greece and probably brought to Italy in the classical period). © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt
Magdeburg, underground parking at the Allee-Center: On the site of the newly opened underground parking facility of the Allee-Center it was not unexpected - in the low-lying ground by the Elbe - that wooden finds were recovered: a piece of driftwood shows that around 1162 there was still a riverbed here. In 1186 a wooden pole was driven into its sediments, around 1200 there were boardwalks and the foundation beam of the first building on piles was laid in 1235. The tree-ring dates from this site illustrate the development of the country, right in the heart of the present-day Old Town. © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt
Magdeburg, Breiter Weg 8-10: Beneath the site of the 'Hundertwasserhaus', a defensive ditch up to 7 metres deep was uncovered, which encircled the eastern part of the southern town centre of Magdeburg and which, as shown by radiocarbon dates, belongs to the period of the first written record of the town, in the time of Charlemagne (805). © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt
Magdeburg, Gouvernementsberg: while uncovering an early modern revetment, a 14th-century sandstone female figure was found built into the wall. © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt. Photo: Weber