Archeologists believe that the statue represents the goddess of water and that it was used during rituals associated with water from the so-called Hallstatt culture.
Hallstatt was a culture of transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages, spreading across Central Europe, France, and the Balkans, where the goddess represented by the statuette now found in Germany originated.
It emerged from the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC and in much of its area was followed by the La Tène culture. It was the dominant culture of Western and Central Europe during the late Bronze Age (12th to 8th centuries BC) and early Iron Age (8th to 6th centuries BC).
In the 6th century BC, it had expanded to cover much of western and central Europe down to the Alps and northern Italy, divided into two zones, east and west. Eventually, the culture expanded to parts of Britain and Iberia.
The culture was dominated by farming, but metalworking had advanced considerably, and by the end of the period, long-distance trade with Mediterranean cultures had become economically important.
Social distinctions became increasingly important with the emergence of elite classes of chiefs and warriors, as well as possibly those with other skills. Tribal organization governed society, though little is known about it.
An ancient goddess
According to researchers, the clay figurines date back to the 5th millennium BC and are found in the western Black Sea region.
According to Stefanie Berg, head of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection, other finds suggest that the statuette may have been made recently. The statuette stands 19 centimeters tall but may have been four inches taller in its original form.
In the absence of a front surface on the upper body and partially present legs, a body shape cannot provide any information about gender. The side of the head could represent a hood decorated with metal rings interspersed with holes. Women typically wear headdresses of this type.
Excavations were scheduled before construction on the Mönchstockheim bypass on state road 2275 was completed. Besides the small clay figure, archaeologists recovered numerous fragments, ceramic tools made of bones, and a well-preserved clay seal from a prehistoric canal on the site. Due to the fact that the ceramic finds weren’t rounded by water, it appears they weren’t washed in place but intentionally placed in the ditch. Furthermore, limestone precipitation near the site indicates it was a spring at some point in the past.
Curator General Prof. Mathias Pfeil, head of the Office, added, “It is possible that people at that time regarded this special scenic spot as a sacred place and that the small statuette served as a ritual offering or even had magical powers.”
There is no doubt that the found vessel fragments date to the Hallstatt period. Their dates range from the 8th to 6th centuries BC. As of yet, no comparative findings have been found for the statuette.
Clay seals from the same site have also been found to exhibit extraordinary patterns. Due to its arched inward surface, experts assume that organic materials, such as bread dough, were decorated with it. Researchers from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have also conducted experiments with replicas that support this view.
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