Station: [5] Life in the (New) Stone Age

M: Let’s take a trip back in time: to a period some 7,000 years ago, a time known as the Neolithic – the New Stone Age. For thousands of years, people had roamed the Earth as hunters and gatherers. Hunting provided most of their food, supplemented by whatever they managed to forage. But roughly 7,000 years ago, there was a revolution: people began to settle in what is now Europe. They put down permanent roots in one place, established fields and meadows, sowed grain and kept livestock.

F: The hunter-gatherers didn’t immediately vanish. For quite some time, their way of life continued to exist side by side with that of the settled folk. But gradually, the hunter-gatherers were displaced, in the Münsterland region as elsewhere.

M: The early settlers probably arrived in present-day Europe from the Middle East. They had migrated westwards, presumably in search of new places to settle. They lived in impressive Long Houses, which could be more than 45 metres or 150 feet long. The framework was made of sturdy tree trunks, and the structure was roofed with bark or straw. The change in people's way of life also affected the environment. The primeval forest of lime, elm and ash trees gradually began to disappear. Human beings increasingly reshaped the landscape according to their own needs.

F: Next to the model of the prehistoric dwelling house, you can see a dugout. In pre-Christian times, hollowed-out tree trunks served as coffins. This one – which is a faithful copy – was probably intended for a child. Again, the original is in the Westphalian State Museum of Natural History in Münster. Dugouts were made of oak. The trunk would be split in half, the bark stripped and the inside hollowed out.

Fotos: © Heimatmuseum Lette