Salzgitter Lebenstedt

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Site function:
Habitation site
52.08, 10.33
Homo neanderthalensis

The Salzgitter-Lebenstedt archaeological site is a Middle Palaeolithic site in Salzgitter-Lebenstedt in eastern Lower Saxony. It was an outdoor station for seasonally resident hunter-gatherers, where around 840 flint artefacts and around 50,000-year-old bone material were excavated in 1952. Among them were the remains of at least 16 mammoth individuals (Mammuthus primigenius), as well as the remains of at least 86 reindeer and the two most northerly pieces of bone from Neanderthals. A second excavation took place in 1977. The Neanderthals largely specialized in reindeer hunting in a tundra-like environment, taking advantage of their seasonal migrations from the boreal forests of the mountainous zones southwest of their camp to the steppe-tundra of the lowlands. The hunters therefore seasonally followed their hunted prey to the lowlands. The Micoquien site at Lichtenberg (district of Lüchow-Dannenberg), about 90 km further north, existed at the same time and could belong to the same territory.

Alfred Tode, the first excavator, dated the site to the Vistula glaciation in 1953. On the basis of comparisons, it was later dated much earlier, namely in the Saale glacial period. Investigations in the 1990s came to a minimum age of 50,000 years using radiocarbon dating, today the site is mostly dated to 58,000 to 54,000 years.