Germany is a country rich in archaeological treasures. Roman settlements in the Rhineland, princely mounds in the Lüneburg Heath, elaborate burial sites on the river Saale, Stone Age jewelry from the Swabian Alb and shipwrecks in the tidelands are all valuable testimonies to past cultures and lifestyles in the context of their finds. But this archaeological heritage is exposed to many threats.
Infrastructural measures, construction projects or modern forms of land and forest management may damage or irretrievably destroy archaeological culture assets. Floods and fires can also threat-en archival documents of human history that are already stored - presumably safely - in museums or archives.
Archaeological objects are repeatedly the target of probe runners and illegal excavations, even in Germany. In 2002, investigators succeeded in securing a circular bronze plate in Switzerland. Since then, the so-called “Nebra Sky Disk” illustrates just how detailed the knowledge of astronomy was four millennia ago. At the same time, chemical analyses show that trading in precious metals already existed throughout Europe at that time.
Archaeological structures and relics in the soil represent a unit of meaning in the context of their discovery, whether on dry land or under water. Excavations are always irreversible intrusions into the find context. In illegal excavations, all information about the find context is permanently lost.
The working group "Archaeological Cultural Heritage" is working on the following publications:
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
ML = Member of the Leopoldina