Introduction The Landscape Research Design Reports 1999 Field Season 2000 Field Season 2002 Field Season
  Tumulus 18, Grave 1 - Kegelhals vesselBettina Arnold
A Landscape of Ancestors: The Heuneburg Archaeological Project

Visiting the Hochdorf Tumulus

The Landscape of Ancestors project represents a long-term investigation of an early Iron Age archaeological landscape in southwestern Germany. The focus of this project is a group of burial mounds or tumuli associated with one of the best excavated and most extensively studied late Hallstatt period (~600-400 BC) hillfort settlements in western Europe, the Heuneburg.
The Heuneburg hillfort is located on the upper Danube River on the Swabian Alb near the university town of Tübingen. The site and surrounding landscape has been systematically excavated since the 19th century, with over 25 years of more recent systematic fieldwork at the hillfort. The site is under the auspices of the Landesdenkmalamt of Baden-Württemberg. The southeast corner of the 3.3 hectare hillfort is being turned into an open-air museum, with reconstructed Iron Age buildings and a craftworkers' quarter. The 2.3 million Marks required for its construction and program maintenance is being supported in part by the European Union's "Leader II" initiative, designed to train craftworkers in ancient technology. The museum is slated to open in May 2000. If you're in the area, stop by for a visit, and experience a trip back in time to a Celtic stronghold before written records were produced north of the Alps.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee project consists of two parts: 1) excavations in a group of early Iron Age burial mounds threatened by looting and erosion, with subsequent analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) from the skeletal material recovered from these excavations. 2) Sampling already excavated skeletal material in the collections of the Anthropological Institute at the University of Tübingen. The aDNA analysis together with conventional anthropological analysis will be used to answer the following kinds of questions: Were individuals buried in the same mound related by blood or marriage, and were husbands living with their wives' kin or vice versa? Residence patterns and kinship structure are just some of the kinds of information potentially recoverable using this type of analysis.

The goal of the project is to generate a database of conventional anthropological and grave good analysis augmented by aDNA data in order to reconstruct ancient lifeways, including social organization, for a culture that has left us without written records. No similar project combining the analysis of aDNA and conventional mortuary evidence has been conducted in this part of Europe. The proposed research will be the first early Iron Age aDNA analysis conducted on archaeological material of this date. If sufficiently well preserved aDNA can be extracted from the samples currently being analyzed at Indiana University by Professor Frederika Kaestle, the project has the potential for contributing significantly to our understanding of the western European early Iron Age. Stay tuned for updates.

In the summer of 1997 the first of a number of tumuli was selected for excavation. Tumulus 17 was one of a group of mounds surrounding the Hohmichele, an enormous burial monument ~80 meters in diameter and still about 13 meters high when it was excavated in 1937-1938 by Gustav Riek and a contingent of Heinrich Himmler's SS-Ahnenerbe archaeologists. The mound was reconstructed in 1957 and has a war memorial on its summit commemorating members of the Württemberg Forest Service who died in World War II.

Professor Arnold, her colleague Dr. Matthew Murray and a team of students from UWM, the University of Chicago, and the University of New Mexico excavated Tumulus 17 in the course of two field seasons in 1999 and 2000. In early 2000, Dr. Arnold spent a week in Tübingen at the Anthropological Institute, where Professor Dr. Alfred Czarnetzki, the Institute Director, kindly agreed to provide additional samples for aDNA analysis. The logistics of the first two fieldseasons were worked out with Professor Dr. Hartmann Reim of the Landesdenkmalamt in Tübingen, which generously volunteered equipment and technical support for the project. The Dollhof, a state-owned farmhouse within easy walking distance of the Hohmichele tumuli, part of a working farm which has been leased to the Hagmann family for generations, serves as the fieldhouse for the project.
Aerial view of the Heuneburg hillfort
Aerial view of the Heuneburg

Heuneburg hillfort from Danube River
Heuneburg from Danube River

Heuneburg plateau
Heuneburg plateau

Metal drinking vessels, gold ornaments
Drinking vessels, gold ornaments

Gold ornaments and weapons
Gold ornaments and weapons

Tumulus 17
Tumulus 17

The Dollhof
The Dollhof

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© 2000 Bettina Arnold, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Design: Homer Hruby, Last Updated: August 10, 2001