STONE AGE(D) RELICS

Around 5500 BC the socalled Linear Pottery Culture did spread all over Europe. Migrating farmers and ranchers founded the first relevant culture with a large settlement area in the Neolithic period. 

Solar observatory and circle of Goseck (4800 BC), path between the palisades

The enclosure at Goseck in Germany was discovered by an air survey in 1991. It consists of an almost fully circular ditch and two concentric rings of palisades. Three cheek-shaped portals point towards the north, the south-east and the south-west and serve as aims for the observation of the sun at the winter solstice  The neolithic circular enclosure of Goseck had been already erected at around 4,800 BC, the oldest known facility and celestial calendar like this in Europe. As a place of assembly, trade, religious ceremony and jurisdiction it was the centre of an early micro-region. In 2005, the solar observatory and woodhenge of Goseck was reconstructed on its original site.

Dolmin Goddess (3,500 – 2,600 BC)
Menhir of Langeneichstädt

Hinkelsteins can be found everywhere in Europe. This is a rather small one and only the 2nd replica. The 1st replica had already been stolen some years ago by freaky people. Indeed when visiting the strange location there were sacrificed flowers on the ground because contemporary shamans still use such mythical places. Though the original menhir is safeguarded at the State Museum of Pre-History in Halle (Saale), Germany.

Megalithic grave of Trebenow (3,300 – 2,800 BC)

A regional legend tells of two giants who came to Trebenow and built castles there. They initially lived in harmony, but quarreled because a giantess came into the village and both wanted to marry her. The two giants entrenched themselves in their castles and threw huge boulders at each other. Finally one of the giants was fatally hit, the other repented and built this boulder grave for his friend.

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linked to:

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

 

BEE-EATERS / PROFITEERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Visiting the northernmost breeding area of these multicolored summer guests

Photo created by Hwbund at Kaiserstuhl area, Germany, CC BY-SA 4.0
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Nowadays, the fabulous bee-eaters made their way even  to the very northeast of Germany close by the city of Prenzlau where they live in an operating surface mine which produces sand and gravel. In summer 2020 six breeding pairs stay actually here for a very short time, they usually arrive around 10 June and as real migrating birds leave again by 31 July when they will have already raised their brood.

Summer residence of the bee-eaters – a gravel pit near the village of Gerswalde (district Buchholz), Uckermark

Last Saturday I joined an ornithological excursion to this site led by ornithologist Derk Ehlert who is also the responsible Wildlife Officer of Berlin. Due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic the group had to be reduced to 8 people for ensuring necessary security rules. Fortunately, weather was fine so the bee-eaters were very active outside of their nesting caves. Once a bee-eater even flew over our heads, but the birds live inside the pit, a restricted area, so we could watch them usually only from a distance of 200-250 m.

Spotting scopes and binoculars required for observation of birds

Bee-eaters (merops apiaster) belong to the bird genus merops, a name emerging also in Greek mythology. There, Merops used to be the mythical king of the Meroper on the Greek island of Kos who had been transformed to an eagle by the goddess Hera. And the bee-eaters also like the Mediterranean area and prefer warm climates.

Flowery view on the technical facilities of the gravel pit
 
Video produced by Heinz Sielmann Stiftung, Germany
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The bee-eater was considered extinct in Germany at the end of the 1980s, but has been migrating again since 1990 due to the ongoing climate change. His habitat is open landscapes with individual trees and bushes, and the birds breed in dug caves on steep slopes.
All what the birds require can be found in this gravel pit very well, and even when temperatures are not too high, the white sand is heated here by the strong July sun, so it should be always quite cozy for these birds.
Bee-eaters are often found in colonies. They like to sit, usually together with their peers, on outstanding branches, wires and masts. Through the spotting scope I myself could see 5 birds sitting on a distant bush, may be they just had a small siesta talk.

In a hill next to the gravel pit some holes and abandoned nest caves which might also be the work of black-tailed swallows (riparia riparia)

I found the place very fascinating, the mixture of technology, archaic steppe and wildlife an interesting symbiosis. The bee-eaters have seized a new living space here in the North where they apparently feel quite comfortable in summer.

Bird mural by Don Johnson for Urban Nation, Berlin

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PREHISTORIC MIDSUMMER AT WOODHENGE

Diving in an offbeat Stonehenge feeling at Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

The western gate (Beltane / Lugnasad)

On the occasion of solcistice 2020 we visited the Woodhenge Pömmelte (Ringheiligtum von Pömmelte), a circular sanctuary in Saxony-Anhalt; in the evening of years’ longest day time had come to discover this ancient and magical spot. During this period of the year people usually enjoy the very long days, so this archeological site offered special guided tours on June 20 at 8:30 p.m, followed by the sunset at 9:28 p.m.

View through the outer palisades at dusk

Although weather was not ideal with a more grey sky and even a little bit of rain, some nice light effects emerged at the distant horizon when the sun finally disappeared, impressive moments that we longingly look for.

View on the sanctuary from the visitor’s platform

Woodhenge Pömmelte is a reconstructed circular earthwork of Neolithic times and the early Bronze Age. South of Magdeburg, not far from the river Elbe, archaeologists discovered in 1991 the remains of a huge cult site. A complete excavation took place between 2005 and 2008. Afterwards, the circular ditch system was completely reconstructed at the original site. The complex structure comprises seven rings of wooden palisade rings, pits, ramparts and embankments with a total diameter of 115 m. 

A burial place – the engraving shows the position of the deceased

Inside the sanctuary at dusk

In terms of size, structure and function, the ring sanctuary resembled the English Stonehenge. However, the construction in Pömmelte did not consist of large stones, but of 1,800 wooden posts; both sites were erected by the socalled Bell Beaker culture at the end of the Stone Age. So we may assume that some kind of European community, travelling and exchange has already existed more than 4,000 years ago.

Inside the sanctuary – people waiting for sunset

View on the inner circles from the western gate

Many generations of prehistoric inhabitants utilized this place to cultivate their customs and practices, and to pass them down to their descendants in the time period 2,335 – 2,050 BC. The location was used as a central sanctuary with sacrificial pits and ritual dumpings; drinking vessels, animal bones, millstones, stone axes, pottery, grindstones, arrow heads and parts of human bodies were part of ceremonious sacrifices and burials those days and found here in diverse deposits.

More varied deposits in the ramparts
between the inner and outer palisades
 

While the world was changing radically, the Stone Age ended and the Bronze Age began, there was persistence here for quite a long time, a place of worship and assembly, a burial site, a victim’s place and an astronomical calendar in one.

The eastern gate (Imbloc / Samhain)

Like in Stonehenge the plant design was also guided by astronomical issues and aspectsThe two main gates and entrances to the complex (in the East and West) are based on the sunrise and sunset points of the days between the solstices and the equinoxes. So the site served as a huge calendar marking seasons, harvest time and New Year as well.

We were a bit disappointed because we had expected that the sunset would take place directly in the middle of the western gate as a special midsummer event when looking directly from the East. However, we surprisingly learnt that this effect appears instead on April 30 but the guide did not go in the details or just talked to quick. 

At home I could satisfy my curiosity regarding April 30 well known here as Walpurgis night when witches gather at particular places. Though, in the old Celtic belief (Beltane) in Ireland, Wales or Scotland it meant also the beginning of summer, an important date for successful agriculture.

So when April 30 was regarded in former times as the beginning of summer, I now understand better why solcistice is also named midsummer here in the Northern hemisphere.

All in all a very nice trip, and thanks for following this short time journey and midsummer excursion.

 

linked to:

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: A Quiet Moment

The Cosmic Photo Challenge.

Jo’s Monday walk : a fishy tale!

THE RED LINES OF BEING

31-Otis-tarda-Jiri-BohdalCourtship dance of male great bustards in early spring   © Jiri Bohdal

Great bustards have been already mentioned long time ago in older writings of Pliny the Elder as avis tarda, and in 1758 they were classified with their scientific name Otis tarda by Carl Linnaeus while the description tarda is Latin for slow and deliberate which is apt to describe the typical walking style of these possibly heaviest flying birds in the world who breed in southern and central Europe and across temperate Asia. European population are mainly resident, but Asian birds move further south in winter. Portugal and Spain now contain about 60 % of the world’s population (approx. 50,000 birds in total). The birds are often described as magnificent, stately birds because of the males’ great size, cocked tails and large white whiskers.

In the rural countryside of the great bustards

This species has suffered rapid population reductions across most of its range owing to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat, as well as hunting leading to a complete extinction in Great-Britain already in the midst of the 19th century. In Germany around 200 birds are now living again at three different locations in the eastern part what means an increase of 400 % in relation to the bad situation in 1997. This is only possible by heavy intervention of ornithologists and nature conservationists who for example achieved that the new railway trail from Berlin to Hannover had to be redirected several years ago in order not to disturb the birds – meanwhile fenced areas have additionally been constructed at suitable locations as a protection for the birds because unfortunately, the great bustards are also a bit stubborn and conservative in their behavior what may be quite dangerous for a vulnerable species.

Single great bustard – photo: Andrej Chudy  CC BY-SA 2.0

So the flexible and intelligent fox could normally always very easily steal their eggs while the great bustards simply do not take enough care of it. But these reserved islands here in Germany seem to be also a little bit like an outdoor-zoo hosting ornithological observation towers for bird watchers of all kind (one good observation point is situated for example near the city of Märkisch-Luch, urban district Garlitz, in the federal  state of Brandenburg) but observation is normally only possible in early spring during the courtship displays. So you need always binoculars as the birds can only be watched in a minium distance of ca. 300 m.

Their distant relative – the crane – instead could be a good teacher in this regard who overflies each year the continents of this world in order to find the best places for survival. But when you do not cross the red lines of being, hence you will never know what is lying there behind the horizon of singularity. Even if you subsequently discover only a half-filled glass of water this is definitely always much better than a dried-up big river in front of your door.

Lens Artists Challenge “Delicate”

VAGABONDS OF OBLIVION

When entering a borderland of human civilization and natural wildness the own intentions and angles of view obviously do quickly change as more imminent primordial ambitions dominate the mind automatically while the gates and windows of such an extraordinary place are widely opened in order to nourish the secondary surrounding forests.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #38

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMERFRESHNESS IN AUSTRIA BY BEATRICE

“Getting to the top is optional.
Getting down is mandatory.” (Ed Viesturs)


How good to have been in the mountains of the Austrian Alps again for enjoying the fresh air, a tremendous nature and much cooler temperatures in the amazing and varied heights of Eastern-Tyrole. So here you will find some photographic impressions as a result of our excursions in order to escape the very pressing  summer’s heat of 2013.

linked to:   Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge – Time to relax