Cemeteries that have been in continuous or intermittent use for millennia are a phenomenon that’s peculiar to Saxony. They are primarily to be found East of the Saale River, and were laid out during the late Neolithic Corded Ware Culture. Back then people buried their dead beneath funerary mounds, which for a very long time, served as landmarks. This was especially the case in Oberlausitz, where these mounds became a feature of the landscape. The Corded Ware culture people were the first settlers ever to settle there.
The burial grounds at Niederkaina and Dobranitz, both in the county of Bautzen, illustrate this trend. During the Corded Ware culture period, 16 burial mounds were created at the burial grounds at Niederkaina. During the early Iron Age in around 500 BC, these burial grounds fell out of use for a few centuries. By then, however, the cemetery already comprised 1,800 burials. During the Lusatian Culture in the early Bronze Age, the first graves were aligned neatly around the Corded Ware burial mounds. The cemetery at Dobranitz continued to be used until well into the Middle Ages, albeit with some interruptions.
Clearly, people used the old, but still visible ancient burial mounds for orientation deliberately positioning their graves in line with them. They were regarded as the founding forefathers of the burial grounds, and so acquired religious significance. This link with their forefathers kept memories of the first agricultural settlement of the landscape by the people of the Corded Ware Culture alive… The feeling as it were, of an “emotional appropriation of the country in prehistoric times“.