CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

Phase 1 - Research activities 2016-2020

C1: Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transformations on the Northern and Central European Plain

Principle Investigators: Dr. Sönke Hartz, Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller
Staff: Dr. Jan-Piet Brozio



The research started in summer 2016 with geophysical prospections (G2), excavations and palaeoecological analyses (B2, F2, F3) at the domestic site Oldenburg LA 232 in the western Oldenburg Graben near the town Oldenburg i.H. The landscape of the Oldenburger Graben in Eastern Holstein was shaped 5000 years ago by a fjord, which subsequently turned into a lagoon. In this landscape, characterised by islands and peninsulas, a large number of domestic sites from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods are known.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 1. The layers and the preserved wood artefacts of the domestic site were not affected by "excavation bridges" during the excavation. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

The excavated site was located in the Younger Neolithic on a peninsula in a lagoon. Over time, mudden and peat layers covered the former shore areas, which preserved the organic finds like wooden artefacts and bones. So arrow shafts and elements of former wooden constructions of the late Funnel Beaker/ Store-Valby groups and Single Grave societies between 2900 and 2600 BCE could be excavated

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 2. The settlement site Oldenburg LA 232 in its local surroundings in the western Oldenburg Graben. (Brozio et al. 2018)

On the former island post holes as well as storage pits of the Funnel Beaker groups between 3330 and 3100 BC could be documented. The results are published in the Prähistorische Zeitschrift, 2018, 93(2) 185-224, (


The Duvenseer Moor in Northern Germany is internationally known for its Mesolithic sites (lB2). However, one of the few known Neolithic domestic sites of the Single Grave societies of the North German Plain is located on the shore of a former island within the bog area, which was geophysically surveyed by the project G2 . The aim of the excavations 2017, which was excavated on a small scale in 1994, was to detect the structure and size of the domestic site.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 3. Aerial image of the excavation area of the site “Wohnplatz 15” in the bog Duvenseer Moor area. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

Concentrations of artefacts in the area indicate work places which, due to their composition, show different phases in the production of flint tools. In addition, a grinding stone and flint waste indicate the production of larger tools, such as axes, within the site. However, the lack of building structures indicates a seasonal use of the site. The site which was occupied between 2700-2200 BCE belongs to a group of similar sites in the wetlands in the Young Neolithic North German Plain.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 4. Working progress of the excavation in the bog Duvenseer Moor. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

Further excavations took place on the Baltic coast between Kappeln and Eckernförde in Schleswig-Holstein. The Brodersby-Schönhagen site is surrounded by wetlands on three sides and was an island or peninsula close to the former coastline of the Baltic Sea. The domestic site is covered by a cultural layer characterised by a high number of finds and activity areas, such as workplaces for flint tool production. Bones and tools made from them have also been preserved in the wet areas of the site.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 5. The finds of the excavation at the Brodersby-Schönhagen domestic site comprised bones and antlers as well as vessels and flint artefacts. (photo: A. Heitmann)

The finds currently include more than 9000 flint artefacts and at a minimum of 39 vessels. Decorated ceramic fragments, axes and 14C dates refer to a period of the domestic site Brodersby-Schönhagen from 2950-2750 BCE. This is the time of transformation from the Middle Neolithic to the Late Neolithic or from the Funnel Beaker to the Single Grave societies in the third millennium BCE. A process which is one of the transformations in the North German and South Scandinavian Neolithic which are changing the social organisations fundamental and which is the focus of project C1.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 6. 5000 years ago, people deposited their waste, such as broken ceramic vessels, in the former shore zone. (photo: J.P. Brozio)


In order to be able to reconstruct the Late Mesolithic to Neolithic domestic landscape in high resolution and to investigate the associated transformation processes, a further site at the former shore line of the Oldenburger Graben was excavated.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 7. In the aerial image of the excavation area in March 2018, the findings are visible as dark coloration in the bright sand. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

The site, which is known from surface finds, lies in the immediate neighbourhood of the site excavated by the subproject in the summer of 2016 from the transformation phase of the Funnel Beaker to the Single Grave societies around 2900 BCE. In addition to Mesolithic activities, neolithic activities are present, too. In addition to the excavation, archaeobotanical research was conducted at the same time to detect organic macro remains from the findings by the subproject "Dynamics of Plant Economics in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies" in to understand the food acquisition and agricultural practices at that time (F3).

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 8. In the background of the excavation area, the lagoon landscape of the western Oldenburg Graben is visible. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

In cooperation with the A2 project, it was also possible to demonstrate for the meso region Eastern Holstein that the continuity of domestic sites is a significant criterion for understanding Neolithic transformation processes in the North German Plain (link to

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 9. Differences in the absolute location of archaeological sites in Eastern Holstein throughout transformation periods. (Knitter et al. 2019)



Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 10. Announcement of the MN-V workshop in February 2019. (graphic: C. Reckweg)

At the beginning of the third millennium BCE, fundamental social changes can be observed in the North German Plain and in southern Scandinavia. Thus new phenomena such as the Store-Valby style, the Globular amphorae and Single grave communities appear in t at the end of the Funnel Beaker communities around 3000 BCE.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 11. The participants of the international MN V workshop in Kiel came from Southern Scandinavia and Northern Germany. (photo: C. Reckweg)

The social and economic transformations associated with this were the focus of the international MN-V workshop from 27 to 28 February 2019, organised by the SFB Mercator Fellow Niels Nørkjær Johannsen, University of Århus, Jan Piet Brozio and Johannes Müller from project C1 and A1. 15 experts from Germany and Southern Scandinavia as well as an interested audience came together to discuss different aspects of this wide-ranging phenomenon.

The localisation and exploration of domestic sites of the third pre-Christian millennium in the North German Plain are the focus of the project Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transformations in the North Central European Plain. Within this framework, archaeological surveys were carried out in March 2019 in Westre, near Flensburg in the district of North Frisia in the direct neighbourhood of the German-Danish border. The site had already been surveyed by collectors for several years and is characterised by an extensive lithic find material of the Single grave societies between 2800 and 2200 BCE.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 12. The site near Westre was systematically surveyed through five excavation trenches. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

The excavations were systematically carried out by five up to 80 m long trenches. However, several structures in the ground could be reconstructed as former modern military.

Archaeology Scales of Transformation CRC 1266
Fig. 13. Working progress of the excavation in Westre. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

It is possible that this is a further indication that no larger settlements were built in the 3 BC. millennium.

Preparation of a profile for its documentation in the former Lake Löddigsee in the West Mecklenburg
Fig. 14. Preparation of a profile for its documentation in the former Lake Löddigsee in the West Mecklenburg. (photo: J.P. Brozio)

In the summer of 2019, further excavations were started in the former Lake Löddigsee area, west of Parchim in the micro region Westmecklenburg. In this wetland location, excavations in the area of a Late Neolithic settlement on a former island or peninsula situation were already carried out in the 1980s. The aim of the C1 surveys was to identify further possible settlement sites in this area and to collect new data on the spatial extent and temporal depth of these sites in the North German Plain. Excavations and drilling have uncovered an island that is no longer visible today, but it was not used as a settlement in the Neolithic period. As in Duvensee, in Parchim-Löddigsee in the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE we can now reconstruct a dispersed settlement system in the landscape.

During this summer, the site Brunau, Altmarkkreis Salzwedel, Saxony-Anhalt, was investigated again by subproject C1. The Late Neolithic urnfield, which is situated on a sand dune in a forested area, is strongly endangered by erosion processes and was already partially investigated in 1995. During this year's investigation an excavation section of 40 square metres was opened directly adjacent to the old excavation area, located in the slope area of the sand dune.

Final documentation of the profiles at the site the site Brunau
Fig. 15. Final documentation of the profiles at the site the site Brunau. (photo A. Pfeiffer)

As in the previous emergency excavation, no anthropogenic features could be identified in the sandy soil. A few very fragmented ceramic fragments of at least three other vessels were found, two of which, however, are very different from the already known urns concerning their technical characteristics. The absence of cremated remains also indicates that the found vessel fragments are possibly no further urns of the burial field. Typologically, the vessel can be dated to the transition phase from the End Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. In addition to the pottery, a few flint artefacts and numerous charcoal fragments were recovered. The latter are now to provide further information on the dating of the recovered vessels by means of radiocarbon analyses.

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