Medieval Graves Unearthed at Germany’s Posa Monastery

Ongoing excavations at Posa Monastery in eastern Germany have uncovered significant historical findings, including graves, a chapter house, and a 10th-century church connection. 

Since 2017, continuous archaeological excavations at the Posa Monastery site have uncovered significant insights into both the former Benedictine monastery and its Ottonian predecessor. This year, the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt (LDA) and the Zeitz Association for the Promotion of Archaeology and Historical Research have resumed their research. The focus has been on the chapter house and the cloister, revealing graves and a connecting building between a 10th-century church and a residential tower.

Cloister with at least 15 burials over a length of eight meters from the period between the 12th and 15th centuries. Photo by Philipp Baumgarten / State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

Key Findings

Excavations at Posa have revealed well-preserved remains of the monastery founded in 1114 and demolished in the 17th century. Additionally, evidence of a significant 9th- and 10th-century castle and a 10th-century church was found, with the castle’s most notable feature being the foundation walls of a residential tower. This suggests that the original bishop’s castle of the 10th century was likely located on Posa Hill, as no similar traces have been found in the nearby city of Zeitz. These discoveries were largely made possible by dedicated volunteers.

This year, the focus has been on the northeastern cloister, the monks’ living area since 1114. The Romanesque chapter house floor plan, a meeting room, was uncovered. During the Gothic period, a new vault and stone bench were added. Under the chapter house floor, a water pipe from Hainichen to the monastery was located, confirming a document from 1186. The pipe ran into the monastery kitchen and branched to the well house in the southern cloister, recently discovered.


To the east, a mid-12th-century cloister section, three meters wide with high-quality sandstone masonry, is being examined. This area revealed burials of at least 15 people from the 12th to 15th centuries, layered up to three deep. Old skeletal remains were often removed or relocated for new burials.

Discoveries from the Ottonian Period

Two foundations from the Ottonian castle complex, likely a bishop’s seat, were found connecting the residential tower to a 10th-century church. Such buildings allowed bishops to move between their residences and churches without exposure to the elements. Burials within this Ottonian building featured elaborate brick chambers, including one currently under investigation, reused in the 15th century.

After documentation, the current excavation area will be refilled in the coming weeks. The excavation will then move to the southern retreat area to further study the Ottonian residential tower. Students from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg will participate in a field school for practical training.