Portable Rock Art / Figure Stones in 



The Venus of Pampau - Ursel Benekendorff Find

The Venus of Pampau

An Artificially Flaked Flint Nodule

Recovered by Ursel Benekendorff from deep in glacial till

at Groß Pampau, Schleswig-Holstein in 1986

Click HERE to read a laboratory assessment of this artifact.


Mrs. Ursel Benekendorff, German Figure Stones Researcher

Ursel Benekendorff in her garden in Geesthacht near Hamburg, with two Groß Pampau artifacts - similar form, different sizes.


Since 1984 Mrs. Benekendorff has devoted much of her life to the recovery, preservation, and analysis of artifacts from glacial till far beneath the current terrain surface at the Ohle (now Ohle & Lau) gravel quarry by Groß Pampau near Hamburg.  Initially looking only for fossils, she began to notice obvious flint tools of ancient typology, as well as artifacts of a clearly iconistic nature.  For several years she visited the site as often as possible, and with the kind permission of Mr. Ohle stood or crouched hours-long by the conveyor belt transporting stones to the rock crusher, rescuing hundreds of them.


In 2024 Mrs. Benekendorff set up a display of some of the many Groß Pampau artifacts.  This small museum in Geesthacht is available for free viewing by members of the general public, by appointment.

Tel. 04152 78502              Email Ursel.Benekendorff@T-online.de

Early on, Mrs. Benekendorff was inspired and encouraged by Prof. Emeritus Walther Matthes of the University of Hamburg.  In the late 1980s she was assisted by several notable avocational researchers from Holland, incl. Jan Evert  Musch and Ben Dupen.  In 1989 American anthropologist Dr. James B. Harrod (on the right in the photo below) visited the site to view the artifacts and to investigate the stratigraphy to the extent that this was possible.  He presents photos and descriptions of some of the artifacts at originsnet.org.  (Dr. Harrod, along with his colleague Dr. Richard M. Gramly, has recently taken a very active and welcome interest in North American figure stones / portable rock art, particularly in the context of cultural/thematic continuity from northeastern Asia.)

Ben Dupen, Ursel Benekendorff, James Harrod in Elst, Holland, 1989

1989 - Ben Dupen, Ursel Benekendorff, James Harrod in Elst, Holland

In 2015 I photographed a few of her Figure Stones, Acheulean handaxes, etc., several of which have  been brought to Ohio and conclusively confirmed as artifacts by professional archaeologists and by Dr. Eric Law, petrologist and professor of geology, who examined the flint "Venus" figure at Muskingum University in Ohio.  In 2017 I returned to Germany and photographed several more of the artifacts, concentrating on tools and physical evidence of human manufacture, both in the tools and in the Figure Stones.  These photos are in the (slow) process of being added to those from 2015.

To see some of the artifacts photographed in 2015 and 2017

click on the image below:

Groß Pampau Flint Artifacts, Ursel Benekendorff Finds


Mrs. Benekendorff's own website is schafftwissen.de

Flint Figure, Groß Pampau archaeological site, Germany - Ursel Benekendorff Collection


In the Geosciences Dept. of Akron University in Ohio, the zoomorphic flint shown below, with tooth-like pebbles wedged into a crevice, has been determined by XRF/EDS spectroscopy (Prof. Thomas Quick) to have been artificially colored with red ochre, both powdered and in a paste-like matrix of not-yet-determined composition:

Flint Artifact with Red Ochre Powder and Paste, Groß Pampau

Click image for closer photos and spectrum charts.


Groß Pampau Quarry, Palaeolithic Archaeological Site

Groß Pampau Quarry, Palaeolithic Archaeological Site

Above, the find site in the 1980s.

Below, the find site in 2015.

Judging from currently available geostratigraphic data and varying professional opinions, Mrs. Benekendorff's artifact material, retrieved from seven to eighteen meters (23'-60') down in a quarried gravel pit, is currently hypothesized to likely be from both Saalian and Elsterian glacial till along with some end-stage Weichselian solifluction soil in the upper stratum.  And all this overlies or has intruded into fossil-bearing Miocene micaceous clay, from about 11 million years ago.  Quite remarkably, the whole conglomeration has, over the millenia, been forced upward to a relatively accessible depth by the expansion of an underlying salt dome.  A more precise determination of the area's geostratigraphy (a bit of a mess) will require much further investigation and inquiry, depending on available time, resources, and interest.  Meanwhile there is the sketch below from fall 1983 of the quarry's east wall by Lewandowski for Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lierl (Univ. of Hamburg) apparently showing schematically, and not to scale, the stratigraphic components from Weichselian down to Miocene.  (Thanks to Dr. James Harrod for bringing this drawing to my attention.)

Doctorate-level Dutch flint experts, looking at some of my high-resolution photos of the finds, have identified the flint material of which the artifacts were manufactured as having originated in Denmark, Sweden, and the Baltic Sea area.

Conservatively assuming the most recent artifact material to have been transported by the Weichselian ice sheet and mixed with that from the Saalian, it seems reasonable to think, at least tentatively, that the artifacts' age overall may range from early Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic, or very roughly 300,000 to 25,000 years BP.  The morphology/typology of confirmed artifacts in the assemblage seems reasonably consistent with this.  If some of the artifacts have been transported by the Elsterian ice sheet, these could be Lower Palaeolithic, or as old as 500,000 years.

Altogether, this has interesting implications for the long-held assumption that early humans and/or their predecessors did not venture as far north as Scandinavia prior to the last ice age.

No claim is made that this was a formal controlled archaeological dig, being more of a salvage operation (and certainly a heroic one at that).  The evidence is simply presented for further consideration and investigation, which it clearly deserves but probably will not receive.  (Although generally more technically competent than their American counterparts, German archaeologists seem no less fearful of pursuing anything this controversial - especially so when the initial discovery was made by someone who is neither male nor a professional archaeologist.)

Acheulean Handaxe, Groß Pampau, Ursel Benekendorff Find

Above, a verified Acheulean-style (Middle Palaeolithic?) handaxe from the site, made of flint likely having originated in southern Sweden.

Click HERE to see more of the artifacts.



Hamburg-Wittenbergen, roughly 200,000 years BP

(Photo by Prof. Walther Matthes)


Note the common primal theme of one eye open, one eye closed or partly closed.  Below, compare the eyes and the shape of the mouth of the German figure with those on a sandstone petroglyph at Day's Knob:



Kurt Kocher in Hessen has, for many years, been collecting and assessing lithic material very similar to that presented on this website, notably from the Battenberg, Pfalz area.

His website is www.hekoverlag.de


Since 2004 Hans Grams in the Rheinland has been discovering artifact material of the kind presented on this website.  This is now shown on his website, along with his own interesting hypotheses.

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