Settlement and Landscape History of the Northern Franconian Jura during the Metal Ages (SELMA)

The Northern Franconian Jura must have been quite densely populated during the Bronze and Iron Ages (end of the 3rd to the end of the 1st millennium BC). This is evidenced by numerous burial mounds and fortified hill forts with a center function such as the Staffelberg. In addition, several ritual sites were documented during the last years at topographically higher areas (for example, Hohler Stein near Schwabthal, Rothensteine ​​near Stübig), which must have been used from local settlements. However, as in other German low mountain ranges, such settlements have so far only been known through stray finds. Recent excavations of the Prehistoric Archaeology (UFGA) in a side valley of the Weismain river near Kaspauer (Weismain, district of Lichtenfels) revealed Bronze Age settlement structures. Building on this, the Metal Age landscape and settlement history of the Northern Frankenalb is to be investigated in a joint research project of the IVGA, UFGA, and the Physical Geography of Giessen University, for which field and laboratory work was carried out from 2012 to 2014 as part of an internally funded preparatory project. The question is how and where settlements and hamlets of this period are to be found, or which processes of landscape history have led to their being impossible to find. In addition to surface survey and geophysical prospection, (geo-)archaeological prospection is carried out, especially at places where stray finds date to the Metal Ages. Colluvial layers containing macroscopic charcoal fragments that date to the Middle Bronze Age (1635 - 1400 BC) and Late Bronze Age (1200 - 1000 BC) could be documented at selected locations, especially in sinks on the Alb plateau, near water sources and burial mounds. These findings indicate clearing and erosion and thus an agricultural use of the plateaus in these time periods. The integrated prospecting methodology and the performance of soil augering along the Jura slopes will be continued in the next few years in the course of a third-party funded project.

Financial support:


  • Kothieringer, Katja, Timo Seregély, and Karsten Lambers. 2018. "Settlement and Landscape History of the Northern Franconian Jura during the Bronze and Iron Ages." Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 48: 57-69.