Archaeology

Excavations and documentation

Unburying the past

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Centuries of Munich's history long lay hidden beneath the lawn of Marienhof square. Apart from historical texts and images, artifacts lying hidden in the earth are what provide the most valuable insight into the past. Archaeological excavations were carried out at Marienhof prior to the start of construction work for the new underground station. The discovered items were professionally recovered and documented.

Why archaeological investigations were needed at Marienhof

Marienhof is considered an archaeological monument under the Bavarian Law for the Protection and Preservation of Monuments. Archaeological monuments are evidence, remains or traces of human culture hidden or discovered in the earth. They may be movable or immovable objects. The law in Bavaria generally requires that archaeological monuments be preserved in situ. When the task is to build new infrastructure, however, this is often impossible. Archaeological methods are therefore used to preserve at least part of the information which can be recovered from the archaeological monuments, in the form of maps, data and descriptions. This is why the best pieces of evidence of the city's history were archaeologically excavated at Marienhof, in the heart of Munich's old town, and documented using the most advanced methods currently available. This documentation will help future generations better understand this part of Munich's history.

First archaeological digs began in 1989

The first archaeological investigations north of the town hall were carried out as early as 1989. For the first time in decades, the ruins of buildings destroyed in the Second World War were revealed once again. Surprisingly, evidence of Munich's history as a city dating back as far as the Middle Ages was preserved in and beneath the 19th century buildings.

There was another opportunity to peek below the surface from 2002 to 2003, when two starting pits were dug for the U-Bahn platform extensions beneath the city's town hall.

Excavations for the construction of the second core route

In the run-up to the construction of the second core route, the Bavarian Office for the Conservation of Historical Monuments requested archaeological excavations at Marienhof. These took place from April 2011 to October 2012 and were based on detailed plans which drew on the findings of the 1989 excavations and the investigations in 2002 and 2003. This meant that costs and timings could be accurately predicted and integrated into the overall process.

Shortly after the official start of construction work for the second core route in April 2017, a third and final archaeological excavation took place at Marienhof and lasted until June 2019. This not only examined the future construction site for the underground station at Marienhof, but also the areas where underground utilities will be relocated.

 

The finds

In total, over 250,000 individual objects were recovered, including ceramics, glasses and bits of fabric. All the artifacts were cleaned, packed and labelled so that they could later be associated with the place they were found. Some were also preserved for future scientific work or for exhibition in museums.

The discovery sites and individual finds were documented in drawings and photographs. Measurements were also taken using cutting-edge measuring instruments. The final, detailed excavation documentation comprises a total of 74 folders replete with reports, log books, maps, photos and much more.

Examples

Cooking pot with remnants of food, early 1300s AD

A cooking pot still contained the residue from a burnt meal. Investigations of these remnants, as well as extensive finds of fruit kernels, seeds and animal bones, provide clues to residents' diet in medieval times.

Crossbow nut, 1300s/1400s

The nut is an important part of the crossbow, similar to the lock on a pistol. This one is made from antler. Wilbrecht tower (Wilbrechtsturm) was a storage place for the city's weaponry. Artifacts crafted from ceramic, bone, glass, leather and wood document the everyday life of the people who lived here.

Teapot

On 17 December 1944 and 7 January 1945, large parts of Munich's city centre were destroyed by Allied bombers. On that night in January, the houses on what is now Marienhof square were reduced to ash and rubble. Many objects from this period were recovered from the cellars of the destroyed houses.

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