One of the richest Lower Palaeolithic open air sites in Eurasia is located at Bilzingsleben, Thuringia, Germany. The find horizon, covered by up to 6m of travertine, was already known to geologists at the beginning of the twentieth century (Wüst 1907; Wiegers 1928). Nearly forgotten over World War II, the site was rediscovered in 1969 by Mania, who has since excavated over 1200m2.

The material and its context have been the subject of much multidisciplinary scrutiny. Four monographs (Mania et al. 1980; Mai et al. 1983; Mania and Weber 1986; Fischer et al. 1991) and numerous articles (Mania 1974; 1975; 1977; 1979; 1980; 1983a; 1983b; 1983c; 1986a; 1986b; 1986c; 1992, 1993a; 1993b) have been published mostly in German but some reports were also published in English (Mania and Vlcek 1987; Mania and Mania 1988; (Schwarcz et al. 1988); Mania 1991a; Mania et al. 1994). Radiometric dating (Schwarcz et al. 1988), the stratigraphic sequence (Mania 1993a), a biostratigraphic analysis of small mammals (Heinrich 1991b; 1993), the palaeobotanical (Mai 1983; Erd 1993) and molluscan remains (Mania 1983b), all seem to suggest an interglacial date between pre-Saalian and post-Elsterian, probably falling within the Oxygen Isotope Stage 11.

In addition to 30 hominid remains (Mania et al. 1994), some 1000kg of mammal bones and more than 100,000 stone artefacts were excavated. Particularly the flint tools were subjected to detailed morphological and metric analysis (Weber 1986; Mania 1993b) as well as to a preliminary investigation of wear (Gramsch 1979). Small mammal bones were analysed by Heinrich (1991a; 1991b; 1993) and Fischer (1991a; 1993) which included some taphonomic aspects. Predominantly taxonomic studies were carried out on horses (Forstén 1993; Musil 1991b), bovids (Fischer 1991b), pigs (Fischer and Heinrich 1991), elephant teeth (Guenther 1991) and bears (Musil 1991a; A. Turner, pers. comm.).

Hunting and bone processing by hominids are thought to be the main reason for the accumulation of the faunal remains (Mania 1993a; Musil 1993). Artefacts of antler (Mania 1986b) and bone (Mania 1993a) as well as non-utilitarian engravings on bone and stone objects (Mania and Mania 1988), have also been described and interpreted as hominid cultural activities at the site.


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