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Egypt (12)

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France (32)

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Impostors (3)

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The Externsteine of the Teutoburg Forest

Externsteine of the Teutoburg Forest

The Externsteines are rocky peaks that stand in the middle of a flat landscape. These rock formations are impressive in themselves, but they are above all traces of human activity dating from the Middle Ages and perhaps even prehistory, which give them an enigmatic character.

Natural curiosity or historic monument

Standing at almost 40 meters in height, these strange rock formations that are Externsteine offer a curious spectacle. These stones are regularly interpreted as a place of prehistoric worship. However the only date attested is that of an inscription indicating that the bishop of Paderborn made, in the 12th century, of a cave of the western piton a consecrated church. In addition, near the entrance to the site is the oldest example of carved stone in Germany: a bas-relief depicting the deposition of the cross. Brought up to date by new age philosophy and esotericism, the Externsteines of the Teutoburg Forest attract witches and druids of new times, members of Celtic religious communities and followers of esoteric doctrines.

Suspicious interest in Germanic places of worship

In 1935, amateur archaeologist Wilhelm Teudt believed he could designate the Externsteines as the Saxon sanctuary of Irminsul. During the Saxon War in 722, Charlemagne would have destroyed the place of worship of the Externsteine and, in so doing, Irminsul. In neopai and neo-fascist circles, Irminsul symbolizes the resistance of the Germanic religions to Christianization.

Today, neo-Nazi groups are gathering on the Externsteine site to celebrate the summer solstice and honor pagan deities like Wotan (Odin) and Freyr. Chanting racist and nationalist slogans, they seek to rekindle what science has never been able to demonstrate. This is why interpretations which invoke German history or prehistory often unintentionally bear the mark of a fascinating ideology.

Prehistoric discoveries

Some time ago, it was discovered, in the immediate vicinity of the Externsteines of the Teutoburg Forest, spikes and shards of stone dating from the Paleolithic (around 10,000 BC). If these discoveries actually testify to a human presence, they in no way prove that the site served as a place of worship, as we like to say. No archaeological excavation has been able to bring to light significant elements from the 10th or 11th century BC attesting to any ritual activity near the rocks. The question of the function of the Externsteines in prehistoric times therefore remains unclear. Theories are legion and sometimes propose a Germanic observatory with a religious vocation, sometimes a place of worship dedicated to Germanic deities, or even, as the anthroposopher Rolf Speckner assumes, a sanctuary where oracles visited. But the question remains: do these rocks really bear the trace of a prehistoric work, as the stonemason and author Ulrich Niedhorn suggests? All thinking in this area is just speculation.

Traces of fire in the caves

A few years ago, Ulrich Niedhorn discovered traces of fire in the caves. He deduced from this that the caves had been created artificially, that these traces of fire indicated human activity and perhaps even proved that these caves had been arranged by explosion. But it remains to be established when these traces of fire date.

A single process, in fact, today makes it possible to date the last heating experienced by the quartz grains contained in the stone. However, as if the stone refused to reveal its secret, this method did not produce any results in the present case.