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Vaihingen (Germany)

Linearbandkeramik Site in Southwestern Germany


Farm Scene near Vaihingen an der Enz, South-West Germany

Farm Scene near Vaihingen an der Enz, South-West Germany

Martin Roell

Vaihingen (sometimes Vaihingen an der Enz) is a well-preserved and extensively excavated archaeological site located on the Enz river south of the Stromberg mountains, in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is associated with the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) period and dated between about 5300 and 5000 cal BC.

The site was first settled during the earliest LBK period, ca. 5400 BC, and was occupied continuously for 450 years. Settlement features identified at the site include storage pits, postholes and a fortification ditch enclosing the houses. At its maximum, the village consisted of some 40-50 longhouses within an area of some six hectares (about 15 acres), with an estimated population of 300-400 people.

Artifact Assemblage

Faunal and floral artifacts were well-preserved, with evidence for abundant cereal chaff remains including einkorn, emmer and "the new type" of wheat. More than 39,000 animal bones were recovered, representing one of the largest LBK assemblages known. Animal bone were dominated by domestic cattle, pigs and sheep/goat, varying over time. Based on mortality data, cattle were likely used for their meat, rather than dairying or as draft animals.

Analysis of the ceramics and lithics led researchers to identify five different self-identified clans or lineage groups within the settlement. The groups had different chipped stone tools, different decorations on their ceramics and different architectural elements. the houses of the different clans appear to have been located close to one another in the town.

Burials and Strontium Analysis at Vaihingen

From its earliest occupation, the village was encircled by a flat-bottomed fortification ditch. While undoubtedly built for protection, this ditch was later to be used for burials; other burials were in the village proper. A total of 138 human skeletons have been found, most crouched burials in the ditch fill or in nearby settlement pits. Strontium analysis suggests that 42% of people buried in the ditch were nonlocals, compared to only 18% in town.

Some debate concerning the meaning of this discrepancy continues, because it is unclear whether the difference in burial ritual is a function of chronology--the ditch was used as long as it was visible--or ethnic. Secondly, some investigation of the isotope signatures of the domestic animals appears to be quite broad, suggesting that the 'extra-locality' observed in the humans may not necessarily be the case.

Vaihingen was excavated between 1994 and 2003 by the Landesdenkmalamt Baden Württemberg under the direction of Rüdiger Krause.


This glossary entry is part of the About.com Guide to the Linearbandkeramik and the Dictionary of Archaeology

Bentley RA, Price TD, and Stephan E. 2004. Determining the ‘local’ 87Sr/86Sr range for archaeological skeletons: a case study from Neolithic Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science 31(4):365-375.

Bickle P, and Daniela H. 2007. Moving on: the contribution of isotope studies to the early Neolthic of Central Europe. Antiquity 81(314):1029–1041.

Bogaard A, Krause R, and Strien H-C. 2011. Towards a social geography of cultivation and plant use in an early farming community: Vaihingen an der Enz, south-west Germany. Antiquity 85(328):395-416.

Fraser RA, Bogaard A, Schäfer M, Arbogast R, and Heaton THE. 2013. Integrating botanical, faunal and human stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values to reconstruct land use and palaeodiet at LBK Vaihingen an der Enz, Baden-Württemberg. World Archaeology 45(3):492-517. doi: 10.1080/00438243.2013.820649

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