Hochdorf, Germany.

Location, Site, Context

The great tumulus of Hochdorf is located within a cluster of tumuli, most of which have not been excavated, ca. 10 km due west of the Hohenasperg. The latter, a six-hectare plateau ca. 100 m. above the gently-rolling countryside, is visible from a great distance. Having been continuously occupied since the Middle Ages, with many phases of construction, some extending down to bedrock, it has not been excavated and there appears to be no prospect of major archaeological evidence to be found there. The Hohenasperg was most probably the main seat of government of the popula

Hohenasperg with Kleinaspergle in foreground. After Kimmig 1988. fig. 4
tion on the plains below, perhaps a gathering place for mercantile or religious activity, perhaps also a fortified place of refuge. Aerial photography has revealed many more tumuli under the adjacent fields than have been excavated; most have been plowed flat.

The tumulus at Hirschlanden, south of Hochdorf, dates to the Hallstatt period (6th c.). There the ring of stones around the circumference of the tumulus and the statue that originally stood on top have been preserved. A later stele (Late Hallstatt D-La Tène A) was found nearby at Holzgerlingen. Further Hallstatt-period finds have been made to the south and east, around Bad Cannstatt and Ludwigsburg, in addition to the important early La Tène princely tomb of the Kleinaspergle. Finally, Roman-period sites include a fascinating wood-fenced enclosure at Fellbach-Schmiden, apparently a cultic temenos ("Viereckschanze") or an open-air temple of the second century B.C.E.. The contents of a deep well shaft inside the enclosure include monumental sculptures of stylized deer and goat-like creatures rearing on their hind legs (see Biel 1985, 339 ff.).

Strong evidence from the pattern of burials indicates continuity of occupation of the Hohenasperg and its surrounding countryside. Although the archaeological record is extremely spotty -- as is to be expected in an area that has been under intensive cultivation and construction for centuries -- it contains material from the late Hallstatt period through the transition to La Tène and into the La Tène period proper. The relationship between the Hohenasperg and the outlying burial areas may have changed over time, with the burials moving in closer to the fortified hill settlement, but further excavation must be undertaken to determine the precise sequence.

Hochdorf Tomb Chamber and Finds.