Hamburg in the year 832: the business climate is dynamic, the economy is booming. Central hub of trade is a small settlement next to a castle built by Bernhard, where Ansgar is residing during his travel. Emperor Louis the Pious had sent the archbishop to Hamburg to evangelise Scandinavia. The new insights of Prof. Rainer
Maria Weiss, director of the Archaeological Museum Hamburg, throw a new light on Hamburg‘s early history.
Using advanced dendrochronology to date wooden remains in the soil of the castle and the settlement, Prof. Weiss and his team were able to use their exact date to determine the age of the pottery finds also found on the same level of excavations. This allowed to modify prior research results.
Weiss thus learned that the locational advantages, which led to the erection of the Hammaburg castle in the early Middle Ages, determine the success of the Elbe metropolis as an international centre of logistics and trade still today. Its ideal location on the Elbe river with ramifications and islands allowed to safely cross the otherwise dangerous current and to control the transshipment of goods loaded onto barges travelling the Bille and Alster rivers. The tributaries of the Elbe river not only offered trade routes to the hinterland, but also natural protection.
The positive development of the settlement next to Hammaburg castle was reflected 200 years later by a carte blanche. On 7 May 1189, Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa is said to have granted far reaching privileges to Hamburg, including the exemption from duties and the right to hold markets. The birth of the Port of Hamburg 825 years ago will be celebrated in May with another edition of the world‘s biggest port festival. The “Myth of Hammaburg“ will be unveiled by an exhibition shown at the Archaeological Museum Hamburg from October 2014 to May 2015.