GOTHIC LADY OF NAUMBURG

Fascination captured in stone

Uta von Ballenstedt was the wife of Margrave Eckard II von Meissen, member of the German dynasty known as the House of Ascania. Their marriage created no heir, and any chance of furthering their line ended with Eckard’s death in 1046, followed shortly thereafter by Uta’s. Her entire estate was donated to the construction of Naumburg Cathedral being erected in the early 13th century.  A little bit later the anonymous Naumburg master created a dozen donor figures for the cathedral, including representations of Eckard II and Uta.

These life-size statues are relatively rare in the annals of art history, as they depict neither king nor emperor, and are considered masterpieces of Gothic art.

Naumburg Cathedral, postcard of early 20th century

Indeed, some art connoisseurs consider Uta von Ballenstedt’s sculpture to be of exceptional beauty, even placing her on the same level as Botticelli’s Venus. She attracts many visitors to Naumburg Cathedral to this day – an UNESCO World Heritage site.

P S. The very nice town of  Naumburg (Saale) is nearly 1,000 years old, and there one can visit also the Friedrich-Nietzsche-Haus, a museum dedicated to the life and work of this well known German philosopher.

 

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

 

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!