Chapter 1

Introduction

Cajus G. Diedrich

Abstract

The northern German Hermann’s Cave below the 1.141 a.s.l meters high Brocken peak in the centre of the Harz Mountains (Saxony-Anhalt) was discovered by chance during road construction work at the village Rübeland in the year 1866. It was explored and a first map was presented with first cave descriptions 1889 by the geologists Prof. Dr. J.H. Kloos and Prof. Dr. M. Müller from the Brunswick University. In 1890 the cave became one of the historically opened European show caves and is one of the largest tourist caves in Germany counting about 75.000 visitors per year. Palaeontological and archaeological pioneering research was made by the biologist Prof. Dr. W. Blasius from the Brunswick Natural History Museum, who was active from 1892 to 1901 with opening a small museum in front of the cave. The Hermann’s Cave bear den belongs to one of the three bone-rich important and most northern European cave bear den sites being situated opposite the Baumann’s Cave and not far from the Unicorn Cave in the Harz Mountain. In contrast to the other two mentioned caves, which were used by cave bears and carnivores such as Neanderthals in the Middle Pleistocene, the Hermann’s Cave was accessible for cave bears, carnivores and even humans due to the starting pre-LGM glaciations of the Brocken peak and cave entrance collapse processes only in the Late Pleistocene. At this time, Ice Age steppe lions and Late Palaeolithic Cromagnon humans hunted different cave bear species deep in the cave.

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