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Neolithic Observation of the Sky: Archaeologists at Freie Universität Explore Circular Trench Complex from the 5th Millennium BC

Excavations of Cult Facility in Quedlinburg Completed

№ 303/2016 from Sep 14, 2016

Based on excavations over a several-year period, archaeologists at Freie Universität Berlin working in cooperation with the State Office for Heritage and Archaeology in Saxony-Anhalt have concluded that a circular worship area with a diameter of 98 meters from the early Neolithic period (about 4800 BC) located near Quedlinburg served to observe the sky. A gap in the outer rondel was oriented toward the Brocken mountain, 40 kilometers away. At both equinoxes the setting sun is visible at the edge of the Brocken.

Other astronomical studies suggest that the rising and setting of Sirius, the brightest fixed star in the night sky, can be observed through the gaps (gates) facing southeast and southwest. Overall the site consists of two concentric trenches and a third incomplete trench, each with a depth of 2.5 m and a width of 3 m.

"Individual members of Neolithic society possessed complex knowledge," says Prof. Dr. Wolfram Schier, a professor of prehistoric archaeology at Freie Universität Berlin, who led the excavations. "They seem to have had enough authority or powers of persuasion to motivate others to contribute to a substantial collaborative building project for a monumental complex with no discernible economic benefit."

The project "Built Knowledge" was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The findings were presented today, September 14, at the excavation site. Press images are available on request.

Details about the Findings

Please see the German version for more details.

Further Information

Press images are available on request: or phone +49 30 838 73180.

Homepage of the Project


Prof. Dr. Wolfram Schier, Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838 54304, Email: