Inspired by the international conference ‘Creuser au Mésolithique – Digging in the Mesolithic’ in Châlon-en-Champagne in March 2016, the authors started a compilation of Mesolithic pits in Germany. Although it is still incomplete, some statements can already be made. Nearly 80% of the single pits known come from settlement contexts. The majority was found in sandy soils.
Most fascinating are the accumulations of small pits with more than 390 features at one site, discovered in the sandy soils of Northern and Eastern Germany during the last decade. Due to ethnographic parallels, it is probable, that they were set up for several cooking purposes. These ‘pitfields’ prove a much more complex land use as have previously been assumed by archaeologists for Mesolithic societies.
Another surprising result is the dating of the oldest ‘Schlitzgruben’ to the Late Mesolithic. ‘Schlitzgruben’ or V-shaped pits and ditches are a global phenomenon. One of the first explanations concerning their function is having a current renaissance: the function as a hunting pit. Examples from the Rhineland strengthen this hypothesis. On the basis of the investigations from France, it must be assumed that these features were already in regular use during the Late Mesolithic period.
Although features are also known from the Early Mesolithic, the pits stem mainly from the Middle and Late Mesolithic. This clearly means an increasing complexity in the use and structuring of the natural environment. Features from the Final Mesolithic are very rare up to now. One reason for this may be that so far – outside of the Ertebølle culture – we can only show a few excavations, as such sites are naturally difficult to identify in a dominant Neolithic environment. On the other hand, however, we can also assume that there has been a drastic change in settlement behaviour.
Mesolithic pits, Mesolithic in Germany, C14-dating of pit features, pit function, geographical distribution of pit features and patterns
15_Gehlen_et_al_Mesolithic_pits_complete_net.pdf Accessed 6 times | Last updated 04.02.2021
Gehlen, B., Eckmeier, E., Gerken, K., Schön, W., Zander, A. (2020): Mesolithic pits in Germany – a first compilation. Welt und Erde Verlag. Mesolithic Edition / Edition Mesolithikum. From the Early Preboreal to the Subboreal period − Current Mesolithic research in Europe. Studies in honour of Bernhard Gramsch., Vol. 5
|Authors||Gehlen, Birgit and Eckmeier, Eileen and Gerken, Klaus and Schön, Werner and Zander, Annabell|
|Title||Mesolithic pits in Germany – a first compilation|
|Booktitle||From the Early Preboreal to the Subboreal period − Current Mesolithic research in Europe. Studies in honour of Bernhard Gramsch.|
|Publisher||Welt und Erde Verlag. Mesolithic Edition / Edition Mesolithikum|
|Series||Mesolithic Edition / Edition Mesolithikum|