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Berlin’s Largest Excavation
Research Area Biesdorf

02.10.2019 to 04.01.2021
Neues Museum

The Research Area Biesdorf offers a chance to experience the archaeology of Berlin. In a unique cooperation, the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Museum of Prehistory and Early History), the Berlin Monument Authority, the Düppel Historic Village (Museumsdorf Düppel), students of the Free University Berlin and teenagers from Marzahn-Hellersdorf present the work of Berlin’s archaeologists.

The East-Berlin district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, to which Biesdorf belongs, is known for its “Gardens of the World” (“Gärten der Welt”) and to an extent also for its buildings made of precast concrete slabs, the so-called Plattenbauten that were widely erected there during the times of the GDR. However, archaeologists have revealed that the district has much more to offer.

During preparation works for the construction of new buildings in Biesdorf, a total of 22 hectares of land was excavated between 1999 and 2014. This uncovered evidence of 10,000 years of settlement history along the small river Wuhle that runs through Biesdorf.

  • How did the archaeologists find out about this?
  • How do they know where to dig?
  • Why are the findings from Biesdorf special?

These questions are answered in the special exhibition Berlin’s Largest Excavation. Research Area Biesdorf, which reveals how archaeologists work and what conclusions can be drawn from their research.

Reconstruction of archaeological finds and features

One of the key aspects of the exhibition is the reconstruction of archaeological finds and features.

Reconstruction of a well

Part of this is the reconstruction of a well which fabricated by the Düppel Historic village. In total, more than 100 wells were excavated in Biesdorf. Therefore, wells are one of the most prominent features from this area. The reconstructed well will be completed before a live audience on the “Vivid Archaeology Day” scheduled for 6 October 2019.

Replica of a Stone Age deer mask

In addition to this, a replica of a Stone Age deer mask has been specially manufactured for Berlin’s Largest Excavation. Research Area Biesdorf. While the original mask can be viewed, its replica can be touched and worn. Interactive stations within the exhibition are designed to encourage participation and allow visitors to gain a better understanding of the work of an archaeologist.

Live excavations

As a special feature, archaeology students from the Free University Berlin will regularly perform small excavations within the special exhibition and explain their work while doing so every thursday and friday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. (except on public holidays). At their special work site, the students will excavate what are known as “block excavations”. These blocks of earth were attained at field digs, in order to be able to later excavate them in detail under laboratory conditions. 

Youth Participation

Thanks to the support provided by the Berliner Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung, young people from the youth support organisation Manege gGmbH in Marzahn-Hellersdorf are now able to play an active role in the project Exploring Biesdorf, contributing to the design of the exhibition under the guidance of the set designer and interactive educator Anita Fuchs. They are designing an education station covering various areas of enquiry, are building parts of the exhibition architecture, and designing a separate thematic area. As a pilot project, the Biesdorf Research Site is the first participatory exhibition at the Berlin Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte.  

James-Simon-Galerie, Bodestraße
10178 Berlin

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Related Links

Museum and the City: “Die Überheblichkeit des Heute erschüttern” – Archäologe Matthias Wemhoff im Interview on the blog of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (German only)