Urgeschichte und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie


Geißenklösterle is a site in the Ach valley near Blaubeuren, just 3 km northeast of Hohle Fels. The westfacing cave is located 60 m above today's valley floor. 

Geißenklösterle, as opposed to many other sites in the valleys, has only been known since the 1950's. Rainer Blumentritt discovered the site in 1957, at which time the first short investigations took place. However the exploration of the cave is linked to the name Joachim Hahn, who led the excavations between 1973 and 1991. Between 2000 and 2002, new investigations regarding site formation processes and the transitional period from Neanderthals to anatomically modern men (Middle Palaeolithic and Early Aurignacien) were conducted by Nicholas J. Conard. 

Geißenklösterle exhibits an extensive record of Stone Age settlements at different time periods. Below medieval, iron age, and Middle Palaeolithic layers, excavations brought to light a surprisingly complete stratigraphy from the Upper Palaeolithic. A short settlement period during the Magdalénien and several important settlements during the Gravettien and Aurignacien could be identified. Last but not least, remains of a Neanderthal settlement were found at the base of the stratigraphy. Geißenklösterle's transregional importance is mostly due to the Aurignacien layers. 

One important category of finds from Geißenklösterle is the ice age fauna, as discussed by Susanne Münzel. Remains of mammoth, reindeer, wild horse, ibex, woolly rhinoceros, hare and fox as well as bird and fish remains were found. Cave bear bones were found in almost all layers - the Geißenklösterle cave must have been used by cave bears for hibernation. 

The long-term excavations also produced an extensive inventory of stone and bone artifacts. Starting in the Aurignacien, a broad spectrum of jewelry artifacts was found. The upper layers of the Aurignacien also produced some of the oldest evidence for art: four small ivory figurines depicting a mammoth, a wisent, a bear and a man-like creature. A lime stone painted with three colors, two bone flutes and an ivory flute, which is one of the oldest known instruments, are other remarkable finds from this layer.

Ivory figurines

Geißenklösterle is one of four sites in the Ach and Lone valley where the earliest evidence for art and music was found. 


Münzel, S.C. (in Vorb.). Die jungpleistozäne Großsäugerfauna aus dem Geißenklösterle. In: Die Geißenklösterle-Höhle im Achtal bei Blaubeuren II. Forschungen und Berichte zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Baden Württemberg, Stuttgart.

Moreau, L. 2009. Geißenklösterle. Das Gravettien der Schwäbischen Alb im europäischen Kontext. Tübinger Monographien zu Urgeschichte. Kerns Verlag, Tübingen.

Conard, N.J. & Malina, M. 2008. New Evidence for the Origins of Music from Caves of the Swabian Jura. In A. A. Both, R. Eichmann, E. Hickmann, L.-CH. Koch (Hrsg.) Orient-Archäologie Band 22. Studien zur Musikarchäologie VI. Hersausforderungen und Ziele der Musikarchäologie, 13-22.  academia & researchgate

Conard, N.J., Malina, M., Münzel, S.C. & F. Seeberger, 2004. Eine Mammutelfenbeinflöte aus dem Aurignacien des Geißenklösterle. Neue Belege für eine musikalische Tradition im frühen Jungpaläolithikum auf der Schwäbischen Alb. Arch. Korr. 34: 447-462. academia & researchgate

Münzel, S.C., 2004. Die Schwanenknochenflöte aus dem Geißenklösterle bei Blaubeuren – Entdeckung und Wiedergewinnung des ältesten Musikinstrumentes der Welt. In: Schwanenflügelknochen-Flöte. Vor 35 000 Jahren erfinden Eiszeitjäger die Musik. Textheft zur Sonderausstellung "Schwanenflügelknochen-Flöte". Württembergischen Landesmuseum Stuttgart 2004: 22-25.

Conard, N.J. & M. Malina. 2003. Abschließende Ausgrabungen im Geißenklösterle bei Blaubeuren, Alb-Donau-Kreis. Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg 2002. S. 17-21. academia & researchgate

Conard, N.J. & M. Malina 2002. Neue Ausgrabungen in den unteren Schichten das Aurignacien und des Mittelpaleolithikums im Geißenklösterle bei Blaubeuren, Alb-Donau-Kreis. Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg 2001. S. 16-21.

Münzel, S. C., Seeberger, F. & W. Hein, 2002. The Geißenklösterle Flute – Discovery, Experiments, Reconstruction. In: Hickmann, E.; Kilmer, A. D. & Eichmann, R. (Hrsg.). Studien zur Musikarchäologie III; Archäologie früher Klangerzeugung und Tonordnung; Musikarchäologie in der Ägäis und Anatolien. Orient-Archäologie Bd. 10. Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH, Rahden/Westfalen, 107-118. academia & researchgate