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Linum Dugout Canoe: Brandenburg’s Oldest Waterborne Vessel Moves into the Neues Museum

Neues Museum

With the addition of this dugout canoe from Linum (from the region of Ostprignitz-Ruppin), the permanent exhibition of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte receives another highlight. Brandenburg and Central Germany’s oldest known waterborne vessel dates back to the Neolithic Age (2903–2873 BC) and originally served to provide rapid travel on rivers and lakes, as a form of transport, and to aid fishing.

Dugout canoes are named after their method of production, in which the trunk of a single tree is dug out. The centre of the trunks were laboriously hollowed out with stone axes and adzes. This type of boat continued to be used in its original form until into the twentieth century. Today, there are only eleven known dugout canoes from the Neolithic Age in all of Germany.

Despite some minor damage, the condition of this originally four-metre-long boat is remarkable after almost 5,000 years, and it is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. Its exceptional condition is a result of its natural conservation in a bog, where the dugout was found in 1876 by peat diggers, at a depth of approximately 2.6 metres.

That same year, the dugout was given to the Märkisches Museum by the peat producer C. Müller. Up until the outbreak of the Second World War, the museum possessed a significant collection of fishery-related objects, which included 13 dugout canoes from various epochs. Today, only three of these boats remain. Like all archaeological finds from Berlin and Brandenburg, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin function as trustees, carefully conserving all objects according to modern standards.

The Linum Dugout Canoe is now on display at the Neues Museum in the permanent exhibition in the Blue Hall (room 3.08) of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, along with other finds from the Stone Age.