9600 – 5500/4200 BC
Environment and Nutrition
Around 9600 BC, the earth’s temperatures rose rapidly. This signified the end of the last Ice Age. The flora changed from a tundra landscape to one with forests of birches, oaks, willows and, particularly, hazel trees. This change from areas of open land to more enclosed forests led to a decline of the reindeer herds and an increase of forest animals such as red deer, roe deer, wild boar and aurochs, but also European elk, bears, wolves, lynx, beavers and other small mammals and birds.
The radically changed environment led to drastic alterations and adaptations to the lifestyles of the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic. For example, hunting with bows and arrows became more common as atlatls (the spear throwers) were unsuitable for hunting within forests. In addition, in the forests there were no longer large herds to be hunted as previously in the large open tundra, which meant that hunts were not as succesful as before.
Settlement of the Mesolithic Age
Archaeological excavations have found little to no finds to help with understanding the architecture of the Mesolithic Age. This general lack of remaining evidence makes the archaeological results from Detmold and Oerlinghausen even more valuable although they are still being discussed by the experts.
The structure type for the Mesolithic seen here at the museum is based on finds from the Rethlager Springs excavations, near Detmold, which indicate that simple dome-shaped huts may have been used, the roof often constructed with bark, grasses or reeds. As all three are organic materials, they often leave no trace in the archaeological record and so it cannot currently be determined which the Mesolithic people actually did use. The simple construction of these huts suggests that the people would still have been nomads.
In 2013, evidence was found in nearby "Bokel Fenn" that hunter-gatherers were based in Oerlinghausen around 4200 BC. These people were among the last known hunter-gatherers in Germany; the first farmers would have been living alongside them at this time. It is likely that the hunter-gatherers had contacts with the first farmers, traded with them and exchanged knowledge.