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The Gessel Gold Hoard goes on display in the exhibition “Restless Times. Archaeology in Germany”

Neues Museum

Beginning today and until the exhibition closes, for the first time outside of the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Hannover, the Gessel Gold Hoard will be on display in its entirety, as part of the exhibition Restless Times. Archaeology in Germany.

It is one of the largest treasures of gold from the Bronze Age ever uncovered. Its discovery by the Lower Saxony Regional Authorities for the Preservation of Monuments and Buildings at an archaeological dig during preparatory work for the OPAL natural gas pipeline caused a scholarly sensation. The publicity surrounding the discovery made it possible for the find to be excavated under laboratory conditions, and to carry out further analysis on the individual objects. The find comprises a total of 117 objects made exclusively of gold, with a total weight of 1.7 kg. In the exhibition, the Gessel Gold Hoard is located in the section on exchange, since the hoard functioned as a depository for commodities, and reveals distant contact with Southeast Europe and possibly even Central Asia. Directly across from the gold hoard is the copper bar find from Oberding in Bavaria. Both closed finds reveal that as far back as the Bronze Age, valuable commodities such as gold and copper were being gathered together in standardised amounts and sizes, and that there were standardised units of measurement. 

The Bronze Age in Europe is characterised by thousands of objects that were deliberately stored together. Through these treasures from beneath the earth, we can reconstruct a ritual practice that is often connected with significant sites in the landscape, such as moors, lakes and transition zones, which have led scholars to interpret them as sacrificial sites. 

“Having concluded this phase of research, we can now exhibit the Gessel Gold Hoard in all its glory”, said Matthias Wemhoff. With this amount of gold, we could make all three gold hats that are on display in the exhibition. This shows that in the Bronze Age there was far more gold in circulation than we had previously ever imagined. The Gessel find is primarily made up of gold wire, with the rolled up wires connected together in groups of 10. So the gold was not used for jewellery or ornamentation, but as a reliable value which could be traded right across Europe.”

The horse’s head from the Roman equestrian statue from Lahnau-Waldgirmes on the other hand will only be on exhibit up to and including 17 December 2018, before it sets off on its return journey to Hesse.