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Archaeological exhibition

The permanent exhibition is the shop window of Saxon Archaeology. The archaeological exhibits were found during excavations carried out by the Archaeological Heritage Office in Saxony.

On three floors totalling 3000 square metres, the smac charts the development of Saxony from the time of the first hunter-gatherers around 300,000 years ago up to the early industrial period. The exhibition shows how humans gradually transformed the original natural environment first into an agrarian settlement structure and eventually into the modern cultural landscape of today. Featuring around 6,200 objects in an innovatively designed display, the exhibition documents and illustrates the history of human civilisation. A highlight is the ‘time-dynamic’ hovering sculpture representing a map of Saxony. As it moves between the three floors of the exhibition, it travels through the millennia like a time machine. The path from one exhibition level to the next likewise resembles a journey through time and space. It passes a 22-metre high section through geological and archaeological strata, accompanied by sounds relating to specific epochs.


Exhibition texts: German / English

Audio guide: German / English / Czech



Level 1

Fluctuating climatic conditions

The lives of the early hunter-gathers of the Palaeolithic era were shaped by fluctuating cold and warm periods which resulted in landscapes that were sometimes barren and sometimes full of lush vegetation. In the exhibition, mounted animal and plant specimens are presented with cold and warm lighting effects to simulate these extremes. Humans first appeared on the territory of modern Saxony about 300,000 years ago. Their flint tools show them to have been an early form of Neanderthal. The demise of the Neanderthals and the transition to modern humans is illustrated in a research laboratory, with the impressive “Transparent Neanderthal” as its focal point. The tour through the world of the early hunter-gatherers ends with a 14,000 year old slate tablet engraved with horses’ heads. This decorated artefact is the earliest work of art from Saxony.



Level 2

Sedentary civilisation

Between the Neolithic era (starting around 5500 BCE) and the early Middle Ages (up to 800 CE) a fundamental transformation took place in this region. By adopting a sedentary lifestyle and developing agriculture and livestock-breeding, as well as through technological innovations and changing social structures, humans increasingly shaped their environment in accordance with their needs. At the smac the oldest timber structures in Central Europe are on display! Wells dating from about 7,200 years ago, along with the organic materials and extraordinarily decorated vessels preserved in them, function as “archives” from the early period of this eventful era of our cultural history. With its forts, burial sites and the start of metal working, the Bronze Age (2200–750 BCE) constitutes a further highlight of the exhibition. Wealth deposits reflect the prosperity, far-reaching contacts and conceptions of the world that prevailed during that era. In an intriguing mirror installation, visitors can find out how people dressed during the Iron Age and in the Roman imperial period. Take a look!



Level 3

From Slavic settlement to industrial revolution

In the period between 800 and 1850 Saxony gradually evolved into a modern cultural landscape. Both Slavs and Germans developed the land, building villages, monasteries, castles and towns throughout the entire territory. An essential prerequisite for the subsequent developments and for the growing wealth of the region was undoubtedly education: at first, the monasteries were repositories of knowledge. The mining industry brought an upswing in science and technology. The history of Saxony is characterised by wars, alliances and territorial changes. However, these historical events had little effect on people’s everyday lives, which are evidenced by 1,300 objects in a showcase extending 40 metres along the wall. Yet one event changed everybody’s life: when the railway line between Dresden and Leipzig opened in 1839, a completely new dimension of space and time came into being.





The best of Saxon archaeology

Here are some of the “must-see” exhibits at the smac.


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