This model shows a Stroke-Ornamented Pottery culture settlement from around 4.700 BC in Dresden-Nickern. This hamlet-like settlement consisted of several houses, fenced-in gardens and four large ring ditches, known as “rondels” The model is based on archaeological excavations that cover five decades.
Archaeologists draw their information about the shape of these settlements from features such as post holes, settlement pits and ditches. Post-holes allow the outlines of the houses to be reconstructed, whereas ditches and hollows provide information about gardens, village enclosures and the aforementioned rondels . This phenomenon is typical of Stroke-Ornamented pottery culture settlements between 4,800 and 4,600 BC, wherever they are found.
Like the wells, the rondels were located inside the village enclave on communal ground. A circular space with a diameter of between 60 to 150 metres would be surrounded by up to four v-shaped ditches. These ditches could be as much as six metres deep and required a lot of maintenance, since they had to be frequently re-dug. The inner part was accessed via bridges, which numbered between two and four. Fringed by palisades, the inside of the rondel, was protected from the curious. But what was it all about? What was the point of these structures?
Researchers frequently interpret these structures as three-dimensional observatories for observing stars like the sun for instance, to establish special dates such as the summer and winter solstices, which were important for determining the harvest and sowing. However, since these structures have no uniform features, such interpretations are merely speculative. As it is, there are generally no finds within these structures. Were they an early form of meeting place or arena, a site for cult practises, markets, or places for special communal occasions? One thing is sure; these Stroke-Ornamented Pottery culture rondels are Central Europe’s first communally erected monumental structures.