Station: [102] Research History

For a long time, questions about the origin of the Earth and the beginning of human beings were answered in terms of religion, it was only after the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th-century that natural sciences were given enough room to unfold. This made discoveries about the structure of the earth and technical progress at the beginning of the industrial age possible, and from the second half of the 19th century Darwin’s theory of evolution created a completely new world picture.

Great services in the fields of geology, biology and archaeology were attributed to personalities such as James Hutton and Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz, Bernhard von Cotta, Otto Torell and Ida von Boxberg.

At the end of the 18th century James Hutton formulated the idea of the deep time and in the 19th-century the geologist Charles Lyell introduced the stratigraphic principle.  His groundbreaking work entitled „ Principles of Geology,“ is on display here in the showcase.

Among others, Louis Agassiz from Switzerland represented the idea that huge glaciers covered parts of Europe and he based his theory on observations he made in the Swiss Alps. In the Hohburg mountains near Wurzen, Bernhard von Cotta from Saxony stumbled upon proof of this kind of ice, interpreting scars on rocks as glacial polish, but it wasn’t until many years later that the Swedish geologist Otto Torell, was able to support these Ice Age theories with science. 

And it is a lady we have to thank for the first Palaeolithic Age discovery in Saxony: Ida Wilhelmina von Boxberg spent many years in France where she conducted archaeological excavations in caves. During her stay in Saxony in 1876 she discovered a small ensemble of flint artefacts in a gravel pit near Großwelka. In the showcase you can see these alongside a selection of drawings and descriptions that Ida von Boxberg made to document her excavations in France.