4,300-Year-Old Woodhenge in Germany Revealed to the Public for First Time
The so-called German Stonehenge near Pommelte, where there was apparent human sacrifice, has been under reconstruction for several years and has just opened to the public for the first time. The 4,300-year-old site, which was originally constructed in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, might more properly be called the “Woodhenge” of Germany because it was made of 1,200 locust tree logs.
The ancient site was discovered from an airplane in 1991 in the woods near the Elbe River. It consists of rings of wooden posts in seven circles, shafts and trenches and is thought to have been a place of astronomical and mortuary observances from the 21 st to 23 rd centuries BC. Archaeologists determined the site’s dates of occupation from analyzing potsherds.
Skeletons of children and young women were excavated at the site, which measures 115 meters (377.3 feet) in diameter. They had sustained injuries that suggested they met a violent end, Dr. Andre Spietzer told the tourism office of Saxony-Anhalt, the province where the site is located.
An arched entryway to the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, which is called that because it is near the town of Pömmelte, German. (DW photo)
“This unique configuration of circles is at the level of Stonehenge,” Spietzer is quoted in DW. “The only difference is that in Pömmelte, everything was made of wood and therefore bygone.”
The site of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, as it is called, is on the tourist path called the Himmelsweg, which means path to heaven, a route in Saxony-Anhalt that has sites where people are thought to have observed the heavens and celestial bodies in prehistoric times, says DW.
Experts have spent $2.27 million (2 million euros) rebuilding the site and have opened it to the public.
The wooden “German Stonehenge” at Pommelte has been reconstructed in wood after 4,300 years and is open to the public. (DW photo)
“Human sacrifice. This is such a harsh word. ‘Researchers prefer the term “ritual killings”,’ Norma Literski Henkel by the State Office for archeology and heritage in Saxony-Anhalt says almost apologetically. But in the end it was the same thing. In the service of a larger idea people are murdered. That is obviously going on here between the 23rd and the 21st century BC, women were assassinated, children, adolescents.”
Similarly, evidence of human sacrifice has been discovered at sites near the prehistoric Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in England, after which the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is nicknamed.
Only one skeleton of a man that suffered human sacrifice at Stonehenge proper in England has been found, according to Smithsonian. He was in his late 20s and had been shot repeatedly with flint arrows at close range. “The forensics are clear proof he did not die in a hunting accident or in battle. And the location of his grave rules out the possibility he was a criminal … though the exact reason for his execution may never be known,” says the Smithsonian video.
The people of the Pommelte area had oxen, corn, rapeseed. And around this time trade routes were crossing Europe and this area with amber, salt and ores, says SpiegelOnline.
By Mark Miller
Top image: The reconstruction of Ringheiligtum Pömmelte (welt.de)