Early history

Moonlight meadow, Siebengebirge
Moonlight meadow

The finds from Oberkassel and the remains of the Celtic ring wall on the Petersberg remind us of the early history days in the Siebengebirge.

Very early on, in the Upper Paleolithic, there were human beings in and around the area of the Siebengebirge. In Oberkassel, the bones of a man, a woman and a dog where found who must have lived around 13,000 BC.

Early history and ancient civilizations

In the Mesolithic, after the Ice Age, a more favorable climate brought better living conditions. The people settled mostly by the coasts or on the banks of rivers and seas, but there was not enough to eat for everyone, so they lived together only in small family groups. In the Neolithic (5,500-2,200 BC), different people migrated through Europe, met and gradually settled down. But unlike the well documented Oriental advanced civilizations, they remain anonymous “people” to us whom we describe by the jewelry, utensils and weapons made by them, or by the way they buried their dead, for instance Linear Pottery Culture, Corded Ware Culture or Beaker Culture. Hardly anything is known from the Bronze Age in our region.

In the historiography about the rise of Rome (from the 5th century onwards) we do not meet anonymous “people” any more, but tribes and civilizations to which we can assign specific cultures (and cultural regions), for example the Iron Age cultures of Hallstatt (as of 800 BC) and La Tène (as of 450 BC). After the Punic Wars, Rome was the antique world power: all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea and large parts of Western Europe were in Roman possession.

Siebengebirge: a settlement on Mount Petersberg

We know very little about early history in the Siebengebirge, the early Germanics and Celts in our region, and what we know comes from Roman sources. There are only little archaeological finds from the Roman era here on the right bank of the Rhine. Back then, the Seven Mountains were situated in the border zone between the Teutonic civilization in the north and the Celtic civilization in the south. More and more Germanics left their homelands in the north and northeast that were often devastated by floods, and broke into Celtic settlement areas at the rivers Rhine and Mosel. There were settlements on the Petersberg and between the mountains Petersberg and Nonnenstromberg. Part of the circular settlement wall around the Petersberg plateau (around 100 BC) still remains.

The Gallic War

Caesar’s Gallic War (58-51 BC) brought Roman soldiers to the Rhine. In seven years of campaigning, he fought the Celtic tribes in Gaul, but also Germanic tribes who crossed the Rhine: the Sugambri, the Usipetes and the Tencteri. Two times Caesar had bridges built and crossed the Rhine for punitive raids. In 52 BC, he controlled Gaul. One last time, the Gauls led by the famous Arveni Vercingetorix rebelled and even defeated the Romans, but then they were trapped in the fortress of Alesia, besieged, and eventually forced to surrender. The Rhine became the border between the Roman province of Gaul and the recently conquered areas Germania Inferior and Germania Superior and the free Germania Magna.

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