Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic, Early Bronze Age henge monument from the late third millennium BC. The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in the district Salzlandkreis, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
The monument consists of seven rings of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, in which a series of wooden posts were positioned. Archaeologists suggest that Ringheiligtum Pömmelte was an astronomical observatory and ritual centre, serving a similar function to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.
Previous excavations discovered the dismembered bodies of children and women in situ, some of whom sustained severe skull trauma and rib fractures near the time of their deaths. It was always assumed that Ringheiligtum Pömmelte was a seasonal ritualistic site, or used to commemorate religious events and funerary rites, with no evidence of permanent occupation within the vicinity.
In the latest series of excavations starting in May 2021, archaeologists discovered two house dwelling, along with 20 ditches and two burials. As the excavations progressed, this led to the discovery of further burial sites and over 80 complete house plans, with a total of 130 dwellings identified.
The structures date from different periods, with some being from the early period of the monuments construction and share characteristics with the Bell Beaker culture from 2800 BC, whilst most houses have been identified as the Unetic culture from 2200 BC.
Excavations will continue until October 2021, in which the research team hopes to better understand the social and religious environment of the Unetice culture, as well as to determine the relationship between the settlement area and the ritual enclosure.
The excavations were conducted by the Saxe-Anhalt. State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt), accompanied by researchers and students from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.
Header Image : Ringheiligtum Pömmelte – Image Credit : Sina Ettmer Photography – Shutterstock