Map showing the location of Geisenklösterle
Location Blaubeuren, Germany
Coordinates 48°23′54″N 9°46′20″E / 48.39833°N 9.77222°E / 48.39833; 9.77222Coordinates: 48°23′54″N 9°46′20″E / 48.39833°N 9.77222°E / 48.39833; 9.77222

Geisenklösterle (German: 'Geißenklösterle') is a cave near Blaubeuren, Swabian Jura, Southern Germany. It is an important site for the European Upper Paleolithic.


It is one of a number of caves where early modern humans in the Aurignacian, between 43,000 and 30,000 years ago left traces of early artwork, including the Vogelherd, Brillenhöhle, Grose Grotte, Hohle Fels and Hohlenstein-Stadel caves.

Geisenklösterle was first archaeologically explored in 1963. Systematic excavations began in 1973, from 1974 to 2002 sponsored by the State of Baden-Württemberg. A 1983 monographical publication summarized the results up to that time.

The cave has six levels belonging to the Aurignacian and seven levels of the Gravettian, besides earlier levels belonging to the Middle Paleolithic and later ones spanning the Magdalenian down to the Middle Ages.

The Aurignacian levels date to between 43,000 and 32,000 years ago, and yielded stone tools, artefacts made from antlers, bones and ivory. Among the most notable items are a sculpture of a flutes of bird bone and mammoth ivory, the oldest known musical instruments with an age of 42,000 to 43,000 years.[1][2]

UNESCO world heritage application

In January 2016, the federal government of Germany applied for the status of World Heritage Site for two valleys with six caves named Höhlen der ältesten Eiszeitkunst ("Caves with the oldest Ice Age art"). The site would encompass areas in the Lonetal (valley of the Lone) and the Achtal (valley of the Ach) both in the southern Swabian Jura. The former includes the caves Hohlenstein-Stadel, Vogelherd and Bocksteinhöhle, the latter Geisenklösterle, Hohle Fels and Sirgensteinhöhle. Each valley would contain a core area of around 3 to 4 km length, surrounded by a buffer zone of a least 100 m width.[3]

In the argument why these sites deserve recognition as a part of the universal human heritage, the area is described as the source of the currently oldest (non-stationary) works of human art in the form of carved animal and humanoid figurines as well as the oldest musical instruments. Their creators lived, were inspired and worked in and around these caves. The caves also served as the repositories of the figurines which may have been used in a religious context. In addition, they were the venue where performers used the excavated musical instruments and where the social groups lived from which the artists sprang.[4] [3]

A decision by the committee is expected in July 2017.[5]

See also



  1. Higham, Thomas; Laura Basell; Roger Jacobic; Rachel Wood; Christopher Bronk Ramsey; Nicholas J. Conard (May 8, 2012). "Τesting models for the beginnings of the Aurignacian and the advent of figurative art and music: The radiocarbon chronology of Geißenklösterle". Journal of Human Evolution. Elsevier. 62 (6): 664–76. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.03.003. PMID 22575323. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  2. "Earliest musical instrument discovered". International Business Times. May 25, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  3. 1 2 Meister, Conny; Heidenreich, Stephan (December 2016). "Zwei Täler, sechs Höhlen, ein Antrag". Archäologie in Deutschland (in German). WBG. pp. 32–3.
  4. "Caves with the oldest Ice Age art". UNESCO. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  5. "Welterbeanträge in Vorbereitung (German)". Baden-Württemberg Denkmalpflege. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
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