Category Archives: GERMANY

Hoard of 5,500 Roman-era Silver Coins Unearthed in Germany

Hoard of 5,500 Roman-era Silver Coins Unearthed in Germany

Archaeologists in Augsburg, Germany, revealed unearthed a historical hoard including 15 kg of silver coins from the Roman Empire’s era. In a historic Roman camp in Augsburg, more than 5,500 coins from the first and second century AD were uncovered.

According to the local newspaper emphasis, it comprises swords, tools, jewellery, and tableware and is the greatest Roman treasure of silver in Germany thus far.

Archaeologists in Augsburg made a Roman-era find for the second time in a few months, and experts said the more than 5,500 silver coins discovered at a disused manufacturing site were among the most important findings of this type in Germany.

Hoard of 5,500 Roman-era Silver Coins Unearthed in Germany
Coins from Roman times: The silver treasure of Augsburg

The coins were found individually distributed in a construction pit in the Oberhausen district.

Rare silver coins discovered in Germany

The coins were discovered separately scattered in a construction trench near Oberhausen, the city’s core. Around 15 BC, Emperor Augustus’ stepsons built the city.

A military camp that eventually became a supply depot. That is why, behind Trier, Augsburg is Germany’s second-oldest city. Later, Emperor Hadrian awarded city powers to the “Augusta Vindelicum” town that had grown up around the military camp.

A period in Augsburg’s history about which virtually little is known.

The oldest coins date back to the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, making them more than 1950 years old, and the wealth is worth 11 times the yearly income of a Roman soldier during this time period.

For his part, German archaeologist Sebastian Gerhaus said: “What makes this treasure particularly important is that it is dinars dating back to the first and second centuries AD, and they still contain a very large amount of silver, and weapons, tools, jewellery.”

Stefan Krmnicek from the Institute for Classical Archeology at the University of Tübingen, “This amount of money must have been enormous by ancient standards. It is certainly not owned by someone who belonged to the lower social pyramid. This is most likely to think of people who were active in the military or in trade,” he said.

Augsburg, is a city that is richer in Roman history than almost any other in Germany. For this reason, where the found coins will be exhibited will be determined after the research.

Well-preserved fossils could be a consequence of past global climate change

Well-preserved fossils could be consequence of past global climate change

Well-preserved fossils could be consequence of past global climate change
A fossil of a crustacean claw exoskeleton from the Posidonia Shale in Germany.

Climate change can affect life on Earth. According to new research, it can also affect the dead. A study of exceptionally preserved fossils led by a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin has found that rising global temperatures and a rapidly changing climate 183 million years ago may have created fossilization conditions in the world’s oceans that helped preserve the soft and delicate bodies of deceased marine animals.

The fossils include squid-like vampyropods with ink sacs, ornate crustacean claws, and fish with intact gills and eye tissue.

Despite being from different locations and marine environments, the fossils were all preserved in a similar manner. Geochemical analysis revealed that the conditions needed to preserve such captivating fossils could be connected to Earth’s climate.

“When I started the research, I had no idea if they would preserve the same way or a different way,” said lead author Sinjini Sinha, a graduate student at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. “I was curious what led to the exceptional preservation.”

The research was published in Scientific Reports.

Going from dead organism to eternal fossil is a complex, chemical process that involves the formation of minerals within biological tissues. The authors examined different parts of fossil specimens under a scanning electron microscope equipped with a tool to detect chemical elements present in the minerals.

Lead author Sinjini Sinha, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, examines images of fossil specimens in the scanning electron microscope lab. Sinha used the microscope to examine exceptionally preserved fossils and learn more about the fossilization process.

The fossils came from the Posidonia Shale in southern Germany, Strawberry Bank in southern England, and Ya Ha Tinda in Alberta, Canada. And in all of them, one element dominated: phosphorus.

“We expected there to be some similarities, but finding that they were so similar was a bit surprising,” said co-author Rowan Martindale, an associate professor at the Jackson School.

Phosphorus is common in bones, so finding it in fossilized fish skeletons wasn’t unusual. But when it appeared in tissues that don’t usually contain phosphorus, such as crustacean exoskeletons and vampyropod soft tissues, it signalled that the environment was the source of the phosphorus minerals.

Phosphorus, however, usually isn’t available in high concentrations within marine sediments, said co-author Drew Muscente, an assistant professor at Cornell College and former Jackson School postdoctoral researcher.

“Phosphorus is an element that you don’t expect to see in sedimentary rocks,” he said. “It generally doesn’t get buried in large amounts except in unusual circumstances.”

Lead author Sinjini Sinha holds a fossilized ink sac of a vampyropod, a squid-like animal. The black portion is the ink sac. The white portion is the tissue surrounding the sac. The fossil is from the Strawberry Bank fossil deposit in the United Kingdom.

The researchers think a period of extreme and rapid climate change caused by an influx of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions during the Early Jurassic could be just that circumstance, with the rising temperatures causing increased rainfall that stripped large amounts of phosphorus-rich sediment from rocks on land into the world’s oceans.

Climate change today is also reducing oxygen in the oceans but it will be millions of years before anyone can say whether there is a boost in exceptional fossils, Martindale said.

The fossil fish Leptolepis from the Strawberry Bank fossil deposit in the United Kingdom.

Javier Luque, a research associate at Harvard University who was not part of the study, said that the study is important because it suggests that past climate change could have helped enable fossilization in a variety of environments.

“Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways of this work is that global events in the past could have set the stage for the exceptional preservation seen in fossil-rich marine deposits around the world regardless of their location, lithologies, environments, and depositional setting,” he said.

The study was also co-authored by researchers at the University of Missouri, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, and the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History.

Headless HORSE skeleton with rider unearthed in a medieval graveyard in Germany

Headless HORSE skeleton with rider unearthed in a medieval graveyard in Germany

The skeletal remains of a man buried 1,400 years ago near a headless horse have been discovered at an ancient cemetery in the town of Knittlingen in southern Germany. He likely was the horse’s owner/rider when he was alive. 

Headless HORSE skeleton with rider unearthed in a medieval graveyard in Germany
This decapitated horse, dating back about 1,400 years, was found next to the remains of a male rider.

The man was buried at a time when the Merovingian dynasty (A.D. 476–750) flourished in the area, ruling a giant swath of territory in what is now France and Central Europe. 

During his lifetime, the man likely served the dynasty’s kings. “He stood in a ‘chain of command’ with the Merovingian kings on its top, which meant he was obliged to participate in the king’s campaigns,” Folke Damminger, an archaeologist in charge of research at the site, told Live Science in an email. 

Part of the ancient cemetery that is currently being excavated is shown in this aerial image.

“As a member of the local elite, he most probably was the head of a farming household consisting of his family and his servants,” Damminger said.

However, the man was not a farmer in a strict sense, as other workers may have done much of the actual farming, Damminger said. 

Why exactly he was buried near a headless horse is not clear, but “most probably the decapitation [of the horse] was part of the burial ceremony,” Damminger told Live Science.

The horse may have been placed near its owner as a ‘grave good’ for the afterlife rather than a sacrifice, Damminger said. The horse’s head has not been found so far. 

His family members would have wanted to portray him as a wealthy and important individual so that they could benefit from his status.

“One function of this ceremony was the ‘staging’ of the deceased in his former status and wealth as a claim of his successors to maintain this status,” Damminger said. 

The archaeologists discovered the remains of several other people, who lived at around the same time as this rider, within the same cemetery.

Some of them were buried with wealthy grave goods, such as a woman interred with a gold brooch. Some of the men were buried with weapons such as swords, lances, shields and arrowheads. 

The researchers will continue to investigate the headless horse burial and excavate other burials at the cemetery.

Damminger said that the team is in the process of excavating and restoring the mysterious man’s grave goods, and future anthropological work of the man’s bones and teeth will be done to learn about his health, why he died and how old he was when he perished. 

Damminger works for Stuttgart Regional Council’s State Office for Monument Preservation. Much of the excavation work is being carried out by archaeologists from the cultural resource management firm ArchaeoBW. 

In Germany, a rare hoard of 2000-year-old Curved Celtic gold coins was discovered

In Germany, a rare hoard of 2000-year-old Curved Celtic gold coins was discovered

A volunteer archaeologist has discovered an ancient stash of Celtic coins, whose “value must have been immense,” in Brandenburg, a state in northeastern Germany. The 41 gold coins were minted more than 2,000 years ago, and are the first known Celtic gold treasure in Brandenburg,  Manja Schüle, the Minister of Culture in Brandenburg announced in December 2021.

In Germany, a rare hoard of 2000-year-old Curved Celtic gold coins was discovered
A selection of the 41 Celtic coins was discovered in Brandenburg, Germany.

The coins are curved, a feature that inspired the German name “regenbogenschüsselchen,” which translates to “rainbow cups.” Just like the legend that there’s a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, “in popular belief, rainbow cups were found where a rainbow touched the Earth,” Marjanko Pilekić, a numismatist and research assistant at the Coin Cabinet of the Schloss Friedenstein Gotha Foundation in Germany, who studied the hoard, told Live Science in an email. 

Another piece of lore is that rainbow cups “fell directly from the sky and were considered lucky charms and objects with a healing effect,” Pilekić added. It’s likely that peasants often found the ancient gold coins on their fields after rainfall, “freed from dirt and shining,” he said.

The hoard was discovered by Wolfgang Herkt, a volunteer archaeologist with the Brandenburg State Heritage Management and Archaeological State Museum (BLDAM), near the village of Baitz in 2017.

After Herkt got a landowner’s permission to search a local farm, he noticed something gold and shiny. “It reminded him of a lid of a small liquor bottle,” Pilekić said. “However, it was a Celtic gold coin.”

After finding 10 more coins, Herkt reported the discovery to the BLDAM, whose archaeologists brought the hoard’s total to 41 coins.

“This is an exceptional find that you probably only make once in a lifetime,” Herkt said in a statement. “It’s a good feeling to be able to contribute to the research of the country’s history with such a find.”

The first 11 coins were discovered in Brandenburg, Germany.

By comparing the weight and size of the coins with those of other ancient rainbow cups, Pilekić was able to date the hoard’s minting to between 125 B.C. and 30 B.C., during the late Iron Age.

At that time, the core areas of the Celtic archaeological culture of La Tène (about 450 B.C. to the Roman conquest in the first century B.C.) occupied the regions of what is now England, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, southern Germany and the Czech Republic, Pilekić said. In southern Germany, “we find large numbers of rainbow cups of this kind,” he noted.

However, Celts did not live in Brandenburg, so the discovery suggests that Iron Age Europe had extensive trade networks.

A selection of the cup-shaped Celtic gold coins from Brandenburg, Germany.
A 2,000-year-old Celtic gold coin in the field where it was found.

What was in the hoard?

Of the 41 gold coins, 19 are coins known as staters, which have a diameter of 0.7 inches (2 centimetres) and an average weight of 0.2 ounces (7.3 grams), and 22 are 1/4 staters, which have a smaller diameter of 0.5 inches (1.4 cm) and an average weight of 0.06 ounces (1.8 g). The entire stash is imageless, meaning they are “plain rainbow cups,” said Pilekić, who is also a doctoral candidate of the archaeology of coinage, money and the economy in Antiquity at Goethe University, Frankfurt.

READ ALSO: HOARD OF 1,800-YEAR-OLD SILVER COINS DISCOVERED IN GERMANY

Because the coins in the stash are similar, it’s likely that the hoard was deposited all at once, he said. However, it’s a mystery why this collection — the second largest hoard of “plain” rainbow cups of this type ever found — ended up in Brandenburg. 

“It is rare to find gold in Brandenburg, but no one would have expected it to be ‘Celtic’ gold of all things,” Pilekić said. “This find extends the distribution area of these coin types once again, and we will try to find out what this might tell us that we did not yet know or thought we knew.”

Neanderthals Were Altering the Landscape at Least 125,000 Years Ago, New Evidence Suggests

Neanderthals Were Altering the Landscape at Least 125,000 Years Ago, New Evidence Suggests

Researchers at an archaeological site in Germany may have discovered the earliest evidence of hominins, or early humans, transforming their surroundings, they said Wednesday.

Neanderthals Were Altering the Landscape at Least 125,000 Years Ago, New Evidence Suggests
The dig at Neumark-Nord near Halle, Germany.

Specifically, they identified a distinct footprint of Neanderthal activities near a large body of water in the region surrounding the Neumark-Nord site, a dig location in the Geisel Valley in Saxony-Anhalt, dating about 125,000 years ago, they said, in an article published Wednesday by Science Advances.

Based on their findings, activities that include hunting, animal processing, tool production and fire use may explain why the region’s forests were cleared during this period compared with vegetation surrounding other nearby lakes, according to the researchers.

The discovery “adds an important aspect to early human, including Neandertal, behaviour [as] it shows that humans were already a locally visible factor in shaping vegetation 125,000 years ago,” lead researcher Wil Roebroeks told UPI in an email.

“We might expect to find other examples of this, especially since Neandertals and their contemporaries were skilled in fire technology,” said Roebroeks, a professor of Palaeolithic archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

The findings may complicate scientists’ understanding of the Last Interglacial period, which began about 130,000 years ago and ended about 115,000 years ago, as the last in which the landscape was untouched by humans, according to the researchers.

The Last Interglacial period is seen as the last in which environmental and climate conditions most mirrored those of the present day.

Scientists are still trying to confirm how, when and to what degree Pleistocene hunter-gatherers impacted their surrounding environments, they said.

It is believed these impacts are likely small, however, given the low population densities in these communities, the researchers said.

To determine whether Neumark-Nord may contribute to the ongoing debate over how far back in time the environmental influence of humans can be observed, Roebroeks and his colleagues analyzed paleoenvironmental data, including pollen counts, and archaeological data at the site.

Flint artefacts found at Neumark-Nord.

Neumark-Nord was abandoned by hominins, or early humans, when parts of the northern European plain were covered by ice sheets but re-inhabited at the beginning of the Last Interglacial period, earlier studies suggest.

The researchers compared the data with two other nearby locations that are also located in the eastern region of the Harz Mountains in Germany, they said.

While pollen composition and levels at these other sites indicate a closed, forested environment, pollen data at Neumark-Nord suggest more open vegetation, a pattern inconsistent with the rest of the region, the researchers said.

Combined with charcoal data and previous evidence of the presence of Neanderthals in the area, the findings suggest that early hominin hunter-gatherers left a lasting mark on the region’s environment, they said.

“With the quarry closed and the sites destroyed, our multidisciplinary team is still studying material from the excavations, such as the huge amount of remains of butchered animals,” Roebroeks said.

“The time period of 125,000 years ago is often used to provide reference information about the state of natural vegetation in the absence of human impact,” he said.

Hoard of 1,800-Year-Old Silver Coins Discovered in Germany

Hoard of 1,800-Year-Old Silver Coins Discovered in Germany

More than 5,500 silver coins buried by a river about 1,800 years ago are now in the hands of archaeologists, following the hoard’s discovery in Augsburg, Germany. 

About 5,500 Roman silver coins were found in the hoard. Cleaning and analysis of the coins are underway.

At the time of the coins’ burial, the Roman Empire was in full swing, with its coinage reaching all corners of its territory and beyond.

These coins “are denarii, the standard silver denomination during the 1st-early 3rd century [A.D.],” Stefan Krmnicek, a professor of ancient numismatics (the study of coins) at the University of Tübingen in Germany, told Live Science in an email.

Archaeologists found the hoard earlier this year in an old riverbed. But though the coins were scattered in the newly dug pit, that likely wasn’t how they were originally placed.

“The place of hiding was probably washed away many centuries later by a flood of the Wertach river, scattering the coins in the river gravel,” Krmnicek said. 

“We have just started cleaning and studying the material,” but so far, it appears that “the youngest coin of the hoard was minted at the beginning of the 3rd century [A.D.], thus dating the deposition of the hoard in the early 3rd century,” Krmnicek said.

“We currently hypothesize that the hoard was buried in the early 3rd century outside the Roman city of Augusta Vindelicum, near the Via Claudia Augusta [a Roman road] running there.” 

At that time, Augusta Vindelicum was the capital of the Roman province of Raetia, Krmnicek said. Why the hoard was buried is an ongoing mystery that researchers are trying to solve. 

“We do not yet know why the hoard was deposited,” Krmnicek said, noting that Leo Brey, a doctoral candidate at the University of Tübingen, is trying to solve this “riddle” in his research.

The hoard was excavated by Sebastian Gairhos, director of the Archaeological Service of the City of Augsburg. No artefacts other than the coins were found with the hoard.

Blackened mummy cake found intact 79 years after WWII air raid

Blackened mummy cake found intact 79 years after WWII air raid

A cake baked 79 years ago has been found in the Old Town district of the city of Lübeck, which is located near the coast of northern Germany, according to a Live Science report.

Blackened mummy cake found intact 79 years after WWII air raid
A 79-year-old nutcake lies on a table in the workshop of the Department of Archaeology for the Hanseatic City of Lübeck Historic Monuments Protection Authority.

Though the charred delicacy hasn’t been edible for a very, very long time, it’s still recognizable as a cake, representatives of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck said in a statement.

The cake’s overall shape, nut fillings, details in the sugar icing decorations and even its wax-paper wrappings remained intact after the pastry was burned into a crisp, cake-shaped charcoal briquette during a World War II air raid.

Archaeologists have previously discovered the burnt remains of long-ago meals, but they rarely find food that’s a whole and well-preserved as this cake was, according to the statement. It offers a glimpse into a dark moment in Germany’s history and illuminates the fragility of life during wartime, Lübeck representatives said. 

On the night of March 28, 1942 (and into the early morning hours of March 29), the British Royal Air Force bombed Lübeck, a historic city and a nonmilitary target, in retaliation for the Nazi blitz of Coventry, England, in 1940, said Dirk Rieger, head of the Department of Archaeology for the Hanseatic City of Lübeck Historic Monuments Protection Authority.

The nut-filled cake had recently been unwrapped when the bombs landed, and all of the building’s stories collapsed into the cellar, Rieger told Live Science. Somehow, the cake escaped being crushed, and the intense heat of the flames rapidly scorched and carbonized the confection amid the wreckage.

Founded in 1143, Lübeck is one of the best-preserved medieval urban sites in northern Europe, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which added Lübeck to its World Heritage List of protected sites in 1987.

From 1230 until 1535, Lübeck — a port city on the Baltic Sea — served as the capital of an international merchants’ organization known as the Hanseatic League, and much of the city’s extraordinary medieval architecture remains intact to this day, UNESCO says.

Artefacts and other remains deep underneath the buildings, in Lübeck’s sediments, are also exceptionally well preserved, Rieger said. 

Restorer Sylvia Morgenstern cleans the preserved nutcake with a brush and vacuum cleaner.

“The subsoil is made of clay, so the preservation for organic material is awesome,” he explained. “You dig down like 7 meters [23 feet], and you are in the 1100s.

We have every single feature of urban and mercantile activity throughout eight or nine centuries, which is absolutely unique in the way it’s been preserved.” 

To date, more than 4 million objects have been recovered from excavations around Lübeck — “everything from tiny children’s shoes to whole medieval ships,” Rieger said. 

Workers found the cake in April during infrastructure work in Lübeck’s Old Town district, “close to the town hall and the main market area,” Rieger said. In the ruined parts of the city that the British had bombed, “the town left the cellars within the soil and built new houses on top of them,” he said. Because of Lübeck’s important historic status, archaeologists supervise all of the city’s construction work.

Experts were already present when the workers opened the cellar and discovered the blackened cake, along with plates, knives, spoons and vinyl records that included Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” according to the statement.

Scientists brought the cake to the city’s restoration laboratory, where conservators carefully cleaned it with delicate picks, brushes and vacuums, and then collected samples to identify the nutty filling, Rieger said. But their work to preserve the rare carbonized confection has just begun.

Bombs that the British Royal Air Force dropped on Lübeck contained incendiary chemicals, such as phosphorus, and the archaeologists need to make sure that there are no traces of such materials on the cake that could react when exposed to chemicals used in the preservation of valuable artefacts.

“This cake is like a window into 80 years ago,” Rieger said, and the view is bittersweet. When the cake is finally ready for public display and people can peer through that window, “they will hopefully see not only the destruction of the war but also the joy that people had,” he added.

“Because this was a family celebration, they listened to music, they wanted to have a nice cup of tea, they wanted to have this cake. It’s a very intimate situation that was immediately destroyed by this war.”

Traces Of An Ancient Road In A Lake

Traces Of An Ancient Road In A Lake

Anyone travelling from the German city of Brandenburg via Berlin to Frankfurt an der Oder at the Polish-German border does so along with an ancient route that reaches far into Poland.

From a raft, the team uses a hollow cylinder to punch through the lake bottom thus getting sediments with layers. The layers are called warves and preserve traces from historic developments and landscape changes, e.g. pollen or ashes.

German and Polish researchers have now documented the influence of this East-West connection on the history of the landscape by examining the sediments of Lake Czechowskie in the Bory Tucholskie and also evaluating historical sources.

According to the results, three phases of landscape development can be distinguished in the last eight hundred years: from an almost untouched landscape through an intermediate phase lasting several centuries—characterized by alternations between strong settlement activity and the return of nature after wars—to today’s cultural landscape.

One of the two main authors, Achim Brauer of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, says: “Wars had a clear influence, as the Via Marchionis was repeatedly used for troop transports that led to local destruction and devastation.

In this study, for the first time, we have shown the impact on the landscape of every war in the region’s history. In general, wars have led to greater or lesser devastation (‘renaturalization’) of the landscape, which has also lasted for varying lengths of time.”

At other times, it was political developments that left their mark on the landscape, such as an agrarian reform in 1343, which led, with a certain time lag, to an accelerated “anthropogenization” of the landscape, that is, to clearly a visible human influence. In the sediments of Lake Czechowskie this is shown by a strong increase of rye pollen and the decrease of birch and pine pollen.

Because sediments in a lake exhibit annual stratification similar to tree rings, the German-Polish team was able to pinpoint the year from which pollen originated by counting the individual layers (“warves”) down to a resolution of five years.

According to this, the landscape remained largely untouched by humans until about 1350 AD. Extensive forests and natural grasses dominated. Then followed five turbulent centuries.

The expansion of agriculture and the formation of larger towns were favoured by a warm climate and politically calm times. However, between 1409 and 1435 there was war between the Teutonic Order and Poland—fields became fallow land, forests expanded again.

After peace was concluded, five quiet decades followed again, during which an increase in handicrafts was also evident. Hardwood was cut to obtain building material and potash—thus, birch pollen disappeared from lake sediments, rye again increased massively.

Sediments from the bottom of lakes are often layered. The individual layers, called warves, preserve information from the past and can be “read” like tree rings. By identifying pollen or ashes, landscape evolution, climate and even political events can be traced.

Huge army campaigns with thousands of riders and foot soldiers, plague epidemics in several waves and some very cold years with crop failures are also documented. Then, from the middle of the 19th century, the influence of agriculture, settlements and economic activity took over to such an extent that one can speak of a predominantly human influence, which continues to this day.

READ ALSO: ANCIENT ROMAN ROAD DISCOVERED AT THE BOTTOM OF VENICE LAGOON

First author Michał Słowiński says that “the most important result is that this development did not take place uniformly. Rather, we see an alternation of phases of rapid development and significant regressions.

The reasons for this are complex interactions of socio-economic, political and climatic factors.”