Archaeology & research

Archaeological investigations have been carried out by the Kaiserpfalz Research Centre in Ingelheim for over 30 years. Large-scale and long-term projects are carried out as research excavations, such as the investigation of the medieval cemetery on Rotweinstraße: archaeologists have been researching the Merovingian-era cemetery there since 2015, which is considered one of the largest of its kind in the whole of Rhineland-Palatinate. The excavations are also enabling the construction of a residential neighbourhood. The research centre is supported by the landowner, the company Boehringer Ingelheim, and the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage (GDKE) in Mainz.

Forschungsgrabung auf dem frühmittelalterlichen Reihengräberfeld an der  Rotweinstraße im Frühjahr 2023. Bild: Stadt Ingelheim, Piotr Noszczyński.

Archaeological research has been carried out at many other locations in Ingelheim since 1994 and since 2012 as part of the “Archaeological City Cadastre” (AStaKat Ingelheim) shortly before and during ongoing construction work. With great success, as can be seen from the example of the excavation in the “Am gebrannten Hof” parcel: It is thanks to the rescue excavation triggered by the cadastre that the extensive traces of settlement from the Bronze Age (cemetery of the Urnfield Culture, approx. 1300 BC – 800 BC), Iron Age (800 BC – 50 BC, Antiquity (Roman sacred area) and early and late Middle Ages (settlement) on Wilhelm-von-Erlanger-Straße could be scientifically recorded and documented for posterity.

Every year, archaeological excavations in Ingelheim unearth the remains of medieval buildings and thousands of small artefacts. They all have to be documented and preserved from decay. This was also the case in 1996, when a small coin came to light during the excavation of the medieval settlement “An der Ottonenstraße”. It was not just any coin, but a solidus – a gold coin – of Charlemagne. To this day, the 4.18 g piece is a unique numismatic specimen: it is the only known gold coin depicting a portrait of the emperor.

Bergung einer Urne der Späten Bronzezeit  (Urnenfelderkultur) während der Rettungsgrabung in der Flur “Am gebrannten Hof”. Bild: Stadt Ingelheim.

The measures on site are only one stage in archaeological research. All movable, small and very small material goods are cleaned, recorded and stored in the research centre’s finds archive immediately after the excavation: ceramic vessels or sherds, bone fragments, stone artefacts, vessels or fragments of glass, metal objects. Not every find is of great importance, but it still needs to be preserved, for example for later analyses. These steps are essential in the overall processing, because even small artefacts can help to determine the function or dating of a building, for example, when evaluating an excavation. Such further analyses are carried out by the staff of the research centre as part of the overall evaluation of excavation results and published in various ways. In recent years, numerous studies on the excavation results of the research centre have been published in individual scientific and popular scientific publications and series and thus made available to interested scientists, citizens or visitors.

Rekonstruktion von Keramikfunden der Urnenfelderkultur mit der 3D-Modellierungssoftware Blender. Rekonstruktion/Screenshot: Alexander Slowikow.

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