A Landscape of Ancestors in Southwest Germany. (News and Notes)

Article excerpt

The `Landscape of Ancestors' project is a long-term, collaborative study of mortuary structures and social organization associated with the early Iron Age Heuneburg hillfort (600-450 BC) in southwest Germany (Kimmig 1983). One of the largest cemeteries in the Heuneburg landscape is the `Speckhau' mound group of 36 tumuli 2000 m west of the hillfort, including the Hohmichele (Hallstatt D1 600-550 BC), the second largest early Iron Age mound in western Europe (Riek 1962). Recent excavation of Tumulus 17 (http:// www.uwm.edu/~barnold/arch/), a mound 200 m south of the Hohmichele about 20 m in diameter and 3 m high, revealed a complex, multi-phase mound construction sequence (FIGURE 1) as well as the remains of five or six interments (Arnold et al. 2001).


The mound began with the distribution on the ancient surface of pyre remains and artefacts from at least one cremation burial radiocarbon dated to around 600 BC, contemporary with the start of the late Hallstatt settlement on the Heuneburg and the establishment of the Hohmichele. As with most mounds of this date, the central burial (Grave 5) had been looted. The 5x5-m rectangular plank-and-post central chamber was visible as post-holes connected by a narrow ditch and was oriented to the cardinal directions. A small earthen mound was subsequently erected to a height of about 1 m and burned pottery, fragments of iron and bronze with charcoal and calcined bone from Grave 5 were deposited on its surface. A thick `cap' of dense, homogenous and sterile grey clay was followed by a final layer of lighter, loamier soil.

Three secondary inhumations (Graves 1, 3 and 4) were recovered. A probable female inhumation (Grave 4) found along one wall of the central enclosed area was adorned with a bronze-studded belt, bronze bracelets, ear or hair ornaments and at least two poorly preserved bronze clothing fasteners. The ornamentation is consistent with the Hallstatt D1 date of the disturbed cremation grave(s) that it accompanied. Grave 3 was an inhumation in a narrow wooden coffin sunk into the clay cap of the outer mound fill (FIGURE 2). This probable male individual was buried with a full complement of weapons (dagger and two spear points) and personal adornment (single bronze armring and pins known as fibulae). A ceramic cup was placed beside his head. Two of the fibulae are of a type dated to the late Hallstatt D3 horizon (500/450 BC). Grave 1 (FIGURE 3) was a probable male inhumation in a wooden chamber with a bronze cauldron, iron short sword, two iron spear points, iron belt hook and an unidentified iron object. As with Graves 3 and 4, bone preservation was extremely poor, but the original position of the body could be interpreted based on soil staining and the placement of grave goods. …