Station: [202] Neolithic Well

Right at the start of your tour, we have a very special highlight to show you: a well of the Linear Pottery culture!  The earliest settlers in Europe made pots that all featured the same type of decoration; the linear patterns  covered their bowls and bottles and gave this culture  its  name; Linear Pottery Culture. This culture was present in large expanses of Europe between 5,500 and 5,000 BC.

During the archaeological excavation ahead of opencast lignite mining in Zwenkau, to the south of Leipzig, the remains of two Linear Pottery wells were found beneath the vanished village of Eythra in 1997.  Yet not every Linear Pottery settlement had its own well. more often water was conducted  from springs , rivers and streams. In Saxony, six such wells have already been found.  This amounts to about a third of all well finds in the entire distribution area of the Linear Pottery culture.

Wells provide us with precious prehistoric evidence. But what’s so special about these features? … In the waterlogged environment of a well, the conditions are ideal for preserving organic material. So, first of all, they provide information about how the well was built. In Eythra several sets of lower-well timber supports were uncovered and you can see two such sets here.  The Linear Ware people mostly used oak logs for their wells. The wells were made by laying split logs in a block construction, or by using hollowed-out tree trunks. The planks were joined with dovetails, seams and caulking. One amazing discovery is the fact that they were already using taps to close their spigots at that time; a technology, which was previously thought to have been invented during the Middle Ages. 

The Linear pottery culture people were not just well informed about the properties of different kinds of timber; they probably also used their expert carpentry skills to build houses. We have been able to date the well-timbers by analysing the growth rings in the wood. Thus we know that the trees used to make the well timbers of Eyrhra were felled 7,100 years ago.

If you want to find out more about how this prehistoric well was built, and how archaeologists found it, take a look at the media stations opposite.

The supplementary text discusses the well finds from Eythra.