Archaeologists are digging up finds from the Younger Iron Age in Wölfersheim
Whe is looking for clues from the past in the Wetterau soil, he usually finds it quickly. This is evidenced by rich finds “in almost every building area”, as district archaeologist Jörg Lindenthal says. Whether Butzbach or Karben, Bad Vilbel or Friedberg – anyone who digs in the region can be almost certain of finding something. In Wölfersheim, archaeologists have just examined an area of almost 3,000 square meters where there is evidence of an Iron Age settlement. After 24 days of excavation, the specialist company commissioned for archaeological excavations left and the site was released for construction work.
Wölfersheim in particular is a good place for archaeologists. For example, remains from a Bronze Age grave found near the local train station have been on display in the permanent exhibition of the Wetterau Museum in Friedberg for decades. The discovery of one of the largest burial grounds in Hesse from the Merovingian period in Berstadt was spectacular. In addition, an extensive settlement of the Neolithic Rössener culture has been extensively examined in recent years. Another part of the widely ramified network of paths from Roman times was found on the Wölfersheim site with a road running in the direction of the Inheiden fort. The most important connection led from the direction of Friedberg to the Roman fort in Arnsburg near Lich. Another runs from Echzell Castle and merges into the first path connection.
Reference to connected settlement structure
So it was not entirely surprising when finds were made during the construction work for a fire station for the Södel and Melbach fire departments and the excavation company came to examine the site more closely. Due to the slight slope, earth had repeatedly been washed up onto the lower-lying depression, which had laid protectively over the finds. The results are of particular interest to archaeologists because relatively few connected settlement structures from this period have been discovered in Hesse, as Lindenthal says.
These finds date from the Younger Iron Age, also known as the La Tène period, i.e. around 450 BC to the year zero. About 300 meters away, on the eastern outskirts of Wölfersheim-Södel, the cranes of a new development area are still standing. There, too, remains of an Iron Age settlement were found. For Lindenthal, this is a possible indication of a coherent settlement structure and another piece of the jigsaw puzzle for an overall picture.
The finds do not look all that spectacular – at least for the layman. Shards and other material were brought to the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Wiesbaden for inspection. Lindenthal shows other results on an A4 sheet of paper: houses once stood where there are circular spots on the site. Remains of posts and walls made of adobe half-timbering have been found. In addition, the remains of storage pits were found, which in cross section are reminiscent of the shape of an Erlenmeyer flask. The so-called truncated cone pits served the settlers as refrigerators. It was always cold enough in the earth silo to store supplies that could be taken out one by one.
Usually not digging in winter
From the approximately 80 finds, numerous objects were seized under sometimes adverse conditions. The experts from the archaeological excavation company not only remove the finds from the earth, they also document the “relationships between the finds” on site. “It’s not usually done at this time of year,” says Lindenthal. Not only because it is extremely strenuous to spend hours doing the finest work in wintry conditions. “The finds can also freeze,” says the district archaeologist. However, since the site was not known in advance and work on the construction site was to continue, the construction workers and archeology team worked hand in hand in order not to jeopardize the schedule.
Wölfersheim Mayor Eike See (SPD) is relaxed about the excavations. “If more had been found at the site, we would have divided the site.” In other words, the specialist company would have dug first on the one side where the weir building is to be built. Later, the work could have continued on the other side. In any case, there would have been no delay.