The Bavarian Troy

Bernstorf - an outpost of Mycenae?  
High above the Ampertal, at the confluence with the Glonn, was a city-like castle dating from nearly 3,400 years ago. The steeply-sloping site protected the inhabitants from the south, west and north. Deep trenches and a 4.50 metre-high city wall nearly two kilometres in length made up of densely interwoven, mud-plastered wood surrounded the fortification. For this, about 40,000 oak trees had to be felled. A quarter century after its completion, the settlement appears to have been destroyed in a devastating fire. It was not until the 20th century that its remains reappeared before being lost again. Fortunately, part of the site has been secured for excavations. Bernstorf soon became one of the most exciting archaeological sites in Germany. Sensational findings revealed the former significant regional and international importance  of the city: the oldest crown tiara of pure gold found in Europe;  thirty pieces of amber, two of which have astonishing engravings- the "amber face" and a seal with characters in Mycenaean script.  The two amber objects were found in 2000. They were, with jewellery, embedded in small clay coverings and carefully buried - perhaps as offerings to the gods. Burn marks on the gold and a charred wood residue in a gold band are thought to have a connection with the fire of the city walls.     
In 1994 Dr. Manfred Moosauer from Haimhausen and his partner Traudl Bachmaier discovered in the vicinity of Bernstorf an urban settlement constructed around 1350 BCE.
 Topography of the site with computer-generated model of the terrain
The fortifications, with graves on the left
Excavations of the fortifications by 1998, 2001 and 2005
Dr. Moosauer himself involved in an on-site experiment in 2011 to test the effects of fire on the walls
Reconstruction of the fortification walls
How the size of the site compares to others, including Troy VI and Mycenae (and Freising today)

Spectacular Finds
 The gold and amber finds of Bernstorf shown below are revolutionary in our understanding, not only of Bavarian but of the Bronze Age history of Europe itself. The amber finds include previously unknown characters in the Linear B script, which was previously found only within the range of Mycenaean palaces, and the first representation of a face outside hostile representations obtained from only geometric patterns. The face itself is reminiscent of Schliemann's famous so-called Mask of Agamemnon. Their provenance is a mystery and their development within the domestic environment has all but been ruled out, attributed instead to either a a group of foreign residents in the area or from the Mycenaean sphere of influence itself.  Whilst the production technique found in the decoration of the gold jewellery is probably by a local craftsman or artist, both the use of gold as well as the type of design is arguably only possible through direct contact with the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean world with its trading relations throughout the Levante area. The discoveries therefore lead to an increasingly clearer picture of the effects of the Mycenaean civilisation on what had always been considered barbaric ancient Europe. Here, for example, is Mussolini attacking the Germans for having been "wholly illiterate" when Italy had "Caesar, Virgil and Augustus" in a 1934 speech in Bari: 
Thirty centuries of history allow us to look with utter disdain on certain doctrines from the other side of the Alps which are espoused by the descendants of people who were illiterate at a time when Rome had Caesar, Virgil and Augustus.
Bernstorf now appears almost to be like an outpost of the Carpathian basin and the upper Adriatic Sea region, if not of Mycenae itself.  
Gold was found in 1998 and amber in 2000
Selection of gold found and the find site
Sheet-metal belt sections- note the triangular designs throughout  
 Supposed miniature Diadem with supporters
Possible armband fragment; again, note triangular designs
Supposed needle
Supposed staff. 14C dating has it dating from 1400-1100 BCE
The oldest gold crown found in Europe?
Crown diadem; again, note triangular device
The crown X-rayed
 Organic material found within the crown, shown at 35x magnification, which appears to be resin obtained from the Styracaceae plant family. Styrax is a natural resin obtained from the wounded bark of Liquidambar orientalis located in Asia Minor. Mnesimachus, Aristoteles, Theophrastus in his Historia Plantarum, Herodotus, and Strabo are the first ones to mention the styrax tree and its balsam. 
Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ledanum. The Arabians do not get any of these, except the myrrh, without trouble. The frankincense they procure by means of the gum styrax, which the Greeks obtain from the Phoenicians; this they burn, and thereby obtain the spice. For the trees which bear the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of varied colours, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are of the same kind as the serpents that invade Egypt; and there is nothing but the smoke of the styrax which will drive them from the trees. 
Herodotus, Histories
In ancient Greece, styrax also denoted the spike at the lower end of a spearshaft. Pliny in his Historia Naturalis describes the use of styrax as a perfume, whilst Scribonius Largus drank wine flavoured with styrax. Ciris mentions storax as a fragrant hair dye. Dioscorides in De materia medica reports its use as incense, similar to frankincense, having expectorant (as in medication that helps bring up mucus and other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea) and soothing properties.
To put this find in context, Schliemann had discovered only two small amber beads during his work at Troy. Even the wreck of a sunken Uluburun ship from the 14th century BCE off the Turkish coast only revealed five amber beads - this within a fabulously wealthy shipment containing ten tonnes of copper, a tonne of tin and precious objects from all the surrounding countries (including a golden scarab with the seal of Nefertiti).
Amazingly, it is claimed that an amber necklace found among the grave treasure of Tutankhamen was made here!
Sample of pierced amber found at the site in 2001
Reconstruction of the jewellery found at Bernstorf
More (reconstructed) artefacts found at the site from 2001-2005

Most remarkable are these finds from 2000

The face of a Bronze Age ruler? 
The so-called "Amber face" is a roughly triangular piece of amber with engravings on the front and back. With his inscrutable smile, the "amber face" recalls the gold masks from the graves at Mycenae and is perhaps the face of a ruler. The reverse shows three symbols: on the left is a long line with a triangular extension like a spear; the centre shows a cross within a circle; the right showing a symbol comprising a trapezoid and a vertical line - possibly symbols for "flame" or "lance" and known from the Mycenaean as a  "double axe", which in turn is a sign of cereals. It could thus have served as a seal of authority, trade and supply, or possibly as a passport for protection, free trade and suppliers. It is possible that it correlates with the syllables "do-ka-me" of the Linear B script, the oldest readable language of the Greeks.
 Pa-nwa-ti, an archon at the time of the Argonauts? 
 The second piece of amber is engraved with four characters divided into two zones: three adjacent characters over a graphic symbol extending across the entire width. The top three characters are argued to correspond to three characters of the Linear B script in the upper zone. If so, it would read "pa-nwa-ti", exactly the opposite as a seal impression, "tin-wa-pa." The character set is not yet occupied in texts, but probably the syllable sequence "Tinwa" as part of their name in Pylos. The sign in the lower zone shows despite shorter headband is a similarity with the crown-like gold diadem of Bernstorf, but also Mycenaean representations of ships look similar. The Greek chronicler Georgios Sygkelos reported in 2002 that the name "pa-nwa-ti" in the period in which the Argonauts went to Colchis, as the name of a "archons" that is a noble man, ruler, perhaps a wealthy merchant, occurs. The Argonauts BC was v of fragments of much older sources in the 3rd century. Fully written down. Of Apollonius Rhodius and shows alongside the legendary action pride and knowledge of the Mycenaeans from the knowledge of the Black Sea, the Danube and the Adriatic Sea. 

Comparison with gold found in Mycenaean Crete 
Mycenae was, as it were,  the geographical centre of the known world. The exchange of luxury goods blossomed and through its trade in gold, silver, bronze, amber and ivory, brought wealth to it. The incipient process of a regulated exchange of traffic was facilitated by the emergence of a new upper class continent-wide which traded with itself similar objects - swords, battle axes, precious vessels and even similar crown-like headgear made of gold. In Europe, large settlements emerged as a focal points in trade routes and as production sites. Such profound changes and innovations are in evidence today not only in Knossos, Mycenae and Troy, but across the whole of Europe up to the city gates of Munich today. From the Aegean Sea to the North Sea, settlements such as Bernstorf were important intermediate stations, as shown by the gold and amber finds and the size of the settlement itself with its 14 acres within its walls. This suggests the rich and powerful rulers it had to build such a strategically located fortification on a hillside above the Amper, right at the intersection of trade routes. 
Far from living in the wild, clad in bear skins, the inhabitants of Bernstorf lived in settlements with over an hundred wooden houses, trading through its agriculture and raw materials jewellery, weapons and tools. These raw materials were brought as a precursor to the introduction of money from increasingly greater distances thanks to its coveted bronze.  
At a couple of tombs around Mycenae. Around 1600 BCE the Mycenae built these tombs above ground in a rounded conical shape like a beehive. 
In front of two examples of Mycenean "tholos" tombs on the Panagitsa Hill at Mycenae, constructed during the Bronze Age around 1250 BC.
The left shows the so-called Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of Agamemnon. Its lintel stone above the doorway weighs 120 tonnes, with approximate dimensions 8.3 x 5.2 x 1.2m, making it the largest in the world. The tomb was used for an unknown period. Mentioned by Pausanias, it was still visible in 1879 when the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the shaft graves under the 'agora' in the Acropolis at Mycenae. The tomb has probably no relationship with either Atreus or Agamemnon, as archaeologists believe that the sovereign buried there ruled at an earlier date than the two; it was named thus by Heinrich Schliemann and the name has been used ever since.  The tomb perhaps held the remains of the sovereign who completed the reconstruction of the fortress or one of his successors. The grave is in the style of the other tholoi of the Mycenaean World, of which there are nine in total around the citadel of Mycenae and many more in the Argolid. However, in its monumental shape and grandeur it is one of the most impressive monuments surviving from Mycenaean Greece.  With an interior height of 13.5m and a diameter of 14.5m, it was the tallest and widest dome in the world for over a thousand years until construction of the Temple of Hermes in Baiae and the Pantheon in Rome. Great care was taken in the positioning of the enormous stones to guarantee the vault's stability over time in bearing the force of compression from its own weight. 
This obtained a perfectly smoothed internal surface, onto which could be placed gold, silver and bronze decoration.  The tholos was entered from an inclined uncovered hall or dromos, 36 metres long and with dry-stone walls. A short passage led from the tholos chamber to the actual burial chamber, which was dug out in a nearly cubical shape.  The entrance portal to the tumulus was richly decorated with half-columns in green limestone with zig-zag motifs on the shaft, a frieze with rosettes above the architrave of the door, and spiral decoration in bands of red marble that closed the triangular aperture above an architrave. Segments of the columns and architraves were graciously removed by Lord Elgin in the early nineteenth century and are now protected by the British Museum. The capitals are influenced by ancient Egyptian examples, and one is in the Pergamon Museum as part of the Antikensammlung Berlin. Other decorative elements were inlaid with red porphyry and green alabaster, a surprising luxury for the Bronze Age. 
More information

From German publications


Bronzezeit Bayern Museum
The Bronzezeit Bayern Museum was only opened in 2014 given the difficulty in obtaining insurance for such valuable items.  The brainchild of Dr. Moosauer, after intensive efforts he managed to establish and organise the necessary resources for the small but equipped with audiovisual facilities Museum of which he serves as the current museum coordinator. It is located on the Pantaleon hill in Kranzberg upon which once stood a Wittelsbacher castle. 
 The castle building were destroyed in 1632 during the Thirty Years' War, in a destructive action of fifty Swedish riders. No ruins are to be seen today as farmers from Kranzberg managed to transport 459,035 bricks from the ruins to Munich from in the period from July 12 to September 18 1660 for the construction of stables.
 It wasn't until 1938 that the 2,500 square foot hilltop was built upon again- for the Nazis. The plans here were published in the October 1938 issue of Der Baumeister (333)
Shown in these 1939 watercolours by artist Alfred Thon, there was a long building complex for the Hitler Youth which was connected by a covered walkway.
The museum today accompanied by Dr. Moosauer and the view from its parking lot 
The film room, showing a remarkable documentary in 3D
The entrance and information centre with information about the museum, the sponsors and the use of audio guides. Through a beamer, a film about the fire of the fortification walls is projected.
The information in the museum has been translated into English thanks in part to my students at the Bavarian International school.
Section about the development of bronze with a model of a kiln and, around the corner, a glass showcase with exhibits from the Bronze Age. In two drawers the casting process is explained with more bronze objects (cast mould, axe) for our Grade 7 students to touch. On the wall screen is projected animation about the history of bronze.
This section on cultural groups shows colour scale time-differentiated areas outlining the dissemination of Bronze Age cultural groups. The flaps shown open to feature pictures, animations, and audiovisual info for each group.
Through the notches in two sections Grade 7s can playfully learn about ten different areas of archaeological methodology consisting of text and images through transmitted light images or digital frames. Among these applied scientific methods:
- Aerial Archaeology / Aerial Photography - Airborne Laser Scanning
- Radio carbon methodology
- Thermoluminescence measurement - dendrochronology
- Anatomical Wood identification
- 3D Laser Scanning
- 3D scanning strip light
- 3D X-ray computed tomography - neutron tomography
-. Div method for determining the firing temperatures
- Mössbauer spectroscopy (nuclear physics research)
Interactive 3D model of Burgberg of Bernstorf with a touchscreen-controlled projector and screen upon which the information is conveyed.
Historical overview of the Bronze Age featuring wall projections, 3D models and vertical drawers with transmitted light images of castles in Central Europe.
Inserted into the wall are six 3D glasses with 3D slides (like the old ViewMaster reels we had as kids) showing reconstructed settlement features with different types of houses, and exterior and interior reconstructions. A display case with findings on the subject showing ceramics, spindles et cet..
Section on the remarkable amber finds outlined above. A glass cabinet features copies of the signet and head which can be seen rotating via small motors to appear to float in the dark. The objects are shown and the characters explained.
Grave models showing the archaeological findings (flat grave, grave hills, stone box, urn, grave hill) with sliding doors providing models of funeral scenes.
Finally, in the central showcase is the model of the cult image as well as the gold itself displayed in a showcase with further information on a monitor.

From personal correspondence in March, 2012 with Dr. John R. Hale, Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialised courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An accomplished instructor, Professor Hale is also an archaeologist with more than 30 years of fieldwork experience. He has excavated at a Romano-British town in Lincolnshire, England, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal. Among other places, he has carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars. Professor Hale has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Centre Award. His writing has been published in the journals Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American.
However, he later registered his serious concerns:
What one looks for in a site that has been excavated since the 1990s is not a collection of artifacts, but ground plans and profiles of archaeological trenches, squares, and other units.  Professional archaeologists produce -- first and foremost -- photographs, maps and drawings of the site.  If this were a professional dig, there would also be articles from the soils scientists, the paleobotanists, the zooarchaeologists, the palynologists, and the laboratories that analyzed the materials.  It looks like a blatant fake to me.  And if it really is a Bronze Age site in Bavaria, then it's a crime that it is being excavated by amateurs.

Proposed Summary Assessment for Grade 7

Key Concepts 

Establishing prior knowledge 

Main dates to know for this unit:

1400 BC   The Sack of Knossos
1200 BC   The Trojan War*
800 BC   Homer's Iliad
400 BC   Classical Greece

*-1200 is an excellent number to remember. It can ALSO work as a date for the replacement of the Bronze Age by the Iron Age without getting you into too much trouble.

Main info to know about the three main aeras:


The terms stone age, bronze age, and iron age are three classic divisions of history based on the chief material used for tools and weapons at different stages in the history of man.
These ages were first used as classifications for dating artefacts found in Europe. They are not referred to quite as often as they used to be because, as it turned out, dates varied drastically for the uses of these metals around the world and even among the various parts of Europe more than was first thought. Some civilisations skipped a period – Sub-Saharan Africa went straight from stone to iron skipping Bronze Age altogether. American natives never got out of stone age – until the era of European exploration.

I. Stone Age

All tools and weapons were made of stone. Axes, spear points, etc.
During the later years of the Stone Age (sometimes called the Neolithic Period), copper was smelted (“melted” out of ore by heating it in a fire) Copper, along with silver and gold, was used mostly for ornamental purposes (it is a softer metal compared to stone tools and not as suitable for tools/weapons). Sometimes a separate Copper Age (or Chalcolithic Age) is referred to as separate from the Stone Age. But, basically, the use of copper was a good supplement to stone tools and also acted in some civilizations as a transition to the Bronze Age. However, copper tools and ornaments were used in the Americas without the people ever discovering how to produce bronze.

II. Bronze Age

Bronze tools and weapons were used during this “age”  (alongside still-useful stone and copper).
Bronze is “one of the most innovative alloys of man.”
Bronze is produced by the combining of copper + tin   (an earlier bronze was actually copper+arsenic which was not quite as strong)
Bronze is much stronger than pure copper.
Though the Bronze Age came before the Iron Age, bronze is actually superior to iron in many ways:
Bronze is —
  • less brittle
  • has a lower casting temperature
  • it resists corrosion and rust
  • is stronger
However, other factors came into play:
1. A few groups of people learned how to add carbon to iron and make steel. Steel is superior to everything. (The Hittites are an example of early steel wielding tribes).
2. Iron implements can be sharpened — a huge advantage. Bronze weapons had to be melted and re-moulded.
3. The tin that was needed to make the bronze became hard to find and often unavailable to some cultures. Both copper and tin are relatively common, but they are rarely found in the same area.  The production of bronze therefore depended on the ability to trade for the part you were lacking. Most historians think that the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age chiefly due to trade problems and the inability to obtain whichever component one was lacking.

III. Iron Age

Iron, like copper and tin, must be extracted through a process called smelting to get it out of the rock or ore. Iron is never found in its pure elemental state. However, it is one of the most common elements on earth and therefore cheap and available.
One of iron’s great advantages was that it could be sharpened. A bronze knife, for instance, had to be melted and re-cast.
Also, iron, unlike bronze, did not have to be alloyed (combined) with another metal. However, until it was discovered that iron could be alloyed with carbon to make steel, iron remained only equivalent to bronze, if not inferior.
It is believed that the Hittites were one of the earliest people to first discover how to make steel by combining iron with carbon. This discovery gave the Hittites superior weapons and shields and is regarded as the key factor in their success as conquerors during the 14th-13th century BC .

KEY QUESTION: Why is Bernstorf a worthwhile place to study? 

Exploring material culture 
What can we learn about daily life in ancient Bernstorf by studying the material culture of its people? 

Analysing and evaluating themes 
How does the study of Bernstorf helps us to better understand the world we live in today?

- Make a time line of events leading up to the final destruction of Bernstorf.

- Illustrate what you think the main idea of the  Bronzezeit Bayern Museum may be.
-Prepare a flow chart to illustrate possible Bernstorf's relationship with the rest of Bronze Age civilisations.

- Write some probing questions about this topic for others.
- Consider the implications of the find at Bernstorf- how might it challenge our understanding of the Bronze Age?

- Conduct a debate about an important issue raised in the exhibition.
Write a letter to the Gesellschaft für Archäologie in Bayern outlining your concerns for the continued excavation and preservation of Bernstorf.  
Prepare a case to present your view about ... 
- Plan a marketing campaign for an exhibition of the signature objects. 
- Write about your feelings in relation to any issue raised in the research on Bernstorf. 
Devise a campaign to raise awareness about the excavation and preservation of Bernstorf.  
Create an advertising campaign for a museum to promote the study of Bernstorf