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2016-06-17 03:52:55   •   ID: 1421

Azilian / Federmesser from the Reinhausen Forest (Lower Saxonia)

After I moved from Vienna to Germany in 1974, I often visited Rock shelters in the Reinhausen Forest south of the City of Göttingen (Lower Saxony, Central Germany) together with my girlfriend. Being inspired by the numerous Abris in the Vezere valley, we began to look  for Stone Age artifacts.

This “Federmessser” is one stray find from our 1975 survey. The Reinhausen Forest is a plateau of compact sandstones of Lower Triassic age, and subdivided by a number of narrow valleys lining the Leine River. Along the slopes of these valleys numerous rock shelters (more than 1500!) are known which were formed by selective weathering of different sandstone layers. Around 1900 some accidental finds of late Pleistocene animal bones and stone tools that were clearly associated with the nearby shelters were detected.

1935 there was a first excavation at an Abri in the  Klustal by H. Krüger by the Municipal Museum of Göttingen. From 1979-2000 an excellent interdisciplinary research project on the rock shelters in the Reinhausen forest was conducted by Klaus Grote and an interdisciplinary team. Only a few rock shelters were excavated, soundings were made at some others.

A prehistoric use is proven for 110 shelters up to now. The Abris at Bettenröder Berg provided archaeological findings from the Micoquian, late Magdalenian, early Preboreal Mesolithic ( with a girls grave), late Mesolithic and later epochs.  At Bettenröder Berg I and IX the Laacher See eruption tephra reached a thickness of 20 - 40 cm and directly overlaid Federmessser (Azilian) assemblages.

The Laacher See eruption was one of the largest volcanic events of the Late Pleistocene in the Northern Hemisphere. This eruption devastated some 1,400 km2 of land and the tephra was spread over an area of more than 225,000 km2. How this event changed the environment, human hunting patterns and subsistence is a matter of vivid debates among German archeologists.

Suggested Readings:

Klaus Grote: Die Abris im südlichen Leinebergland bei Göttingen. Archäologische Befunde zum Leben unter Felsschutzdächern in urgeschichtlicher Zeit. Band 1–2 (3 Teile). Isensee, Oldenburg 1994, ISBN 3-89442-172-X, (Veröffentlichungen der Urgeschichtlichen Sammlungen des Landesmuseums zu Hannover 43).