Zoom Image

An archaeologist measures and maps the presumed floor plan of a pit house

Photo: Ronny Hartmann / dpa

Actually, an entrepreneurial heavyweight wants to settle on the site in Magdeburg soon: The US chip manufacturer Intel is planning a plant for the production of computer chips in the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt.

But construction will not begin until next year at the earliest. That's how long archaeologists from the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments are allowed to take a look at the area. After all, important finds or new scientific findings could be lost.

In fact, the experts in antiquity found what they were looking for. They found a settlement about 4500 to 3500 years old with 50 building floor plans so far. "The special feature is the elongated oval shape of the surrounding walls," said archaeologist and project manager Susanne Friederich from the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archaeology Halle (Saale). "The type of house appears for the first time in the southern Börde. In addition to the first evidence from Haldensleben, this construction method has so far been known from northern Germany and Scandinavia."

Most of the houses are ten meters long and four meters wide, a large building measures fifteen by five meters. It also includes a pit house that may have been used for craft purposes. In such buildings, a hole one to two meters deep was first dug, and then covered with a roof.

Many details about the settlement are not yet known. But Friederich estimates that even more buildings will be found. "By the end of the year, the number of houses on an area of about 300 hectares could increase to 100 to 200," she said.

Recent burial also discovered

In addition, away from a small burial ground, an approximately 1300-year-old man's grave from the time of the migration of peoples was uncovered. "With a body length of 1.65 meters, the dead man was quite tall for the time," said Friederich. "The man was carrying a knife on his right thigh. The metal tip of a sword, a belt buckle and the remains of a bronze brooch that held the man's robe together have also been preserved."

The archaeologists hope to find more traces of settlement and burials on the site. It is not uncommon for antiquities experts to check the soil for possible archaeological finds before building projects. Only in the case of very significant and extraordinary finds would there be a delay in the construction project. This is not to be expected in Magdeburg. "The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Nothing stands in the way of the Intel settlement," said the archaeologist.