Geophysical investigations of a Celtic millstone production area near Dossenheim, SW Germany

Ausgezeichnetes Poster der Jahrestagung 2017 in Erlangen


  • Wiebke Heinze 1
    • w.heinze [at]
  • Bertil Mächtle 1
  • Knut Hünecke 2
  • Günther Wieland 3


1 Geographisches Institut, Universität Heidelberg

2 Knut Hüneke, Steinbildhauer, St. Vitus-Gasse 2, 69121 Heidelberg

3 Fachgebiet Prospektion, Dokumentation und Archäobiowissenschaften, Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart


Archaeological findings of handstone workpieces on a hill near Dossenheim, SW-Germany, were associated with the Late Hallstatt to Early La Tène culture (650-275 BC). According to existing typology, the findings represent the upper millstone of a saddle quern, widely referred to as “Napoleon’s hat”. A lack of other millstone types suggests that the site remained undisturbed after the Celtic handstone production. This unique position in prehistoric research encouraged a geophysical prospection of the southward slope via Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), supported by explorative trenches. The surface material consists of periglacial cover beds, that tend to be of constant thickness and form uniform slope topographies which could be confirmed through ERTs on an undisturbed slope. In a first approach, pronounced topographical anomalies were examined. A removal of periglacial layers in a depression with an adjacent accumulation body were expected to be a result of Celtic quarrying. This assumption was falsified as a bomb splinter designated the disturbance as a bomb crater. Further investigations in a third location were initiated due to a high density of abandoned workpieces. Here, remains of a work place for handstone processing were found. However, no deep-reaching interferences into the slope subsurface could be identified in the geophysical data. As a result, the exploitation of handstone material neither resembled an actual quarry nor can it be associated with deep-reaching digging up of material. The findings suggest that, because of the geomorphological background, boulders in practical sizes were easily accessible on the surface or shallow subsurface and systematic.