Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte
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The human landscape

female statuette
Ivory female statuette. Found at Nebra; around 15,000 years before the present (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Foto: Juraj Lipták)

The river Unstrut passes through broad valleys and snakes between massive sandstone cliffs. The high terraces of the cliffs give an outstanding view of the whole valley. This was recognised as early as the palaeolithic era, by hunters pursuing the herds of game that passed along the valley. The good strategic position repeatedly attracted humans in later periods too.  

The soil on the region's gentle hills and wide plains is nearly black. Its exceptional fertility was valued by the first farmers. Later generations gave the area striking names like ‘Golden' or ‘Diamond Meadow', alluding to the good soil.

In the wider region around Mittelberg hill, the Harz Mountains and their foothills are a rich source of raw materials. Even into modern times, copper and salt were valuable and widely traded goods. Mediaeval trade routes like the ‘Copper Road' that crosses the Unstrut at Nebra and even older road networks all ran along the plateaux beside the river. Long-distance traders, adventurous pioneers and powerful rulers passed this way as they crossed the country. They brought with them precious goods and sought-after raw materials, but they also brought ideas, inventions and myths from distant lands into our region.

Unstrut valley view
View from Mittelberg hill to the Unstrut valley, with the mediaeval imperial seat (‘Pfalz') of Memleben in the middle distance (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Foto: Juraj Lipták)