Hypothetical visions of the burial chamber: secrets of the Celtic prince in Villingen Magdalenberg – Villingen Schöningen and surroundings

Finds from the excavations at Magdalenenberg are displayed around the burial chamber. With their help, it is possible to solve puzzles and rebuild the treasures of the prince. Photo: Schwarzwälder Bote

The Franciscan Museum offers a virtual insight into the burial chamber of Magdalenenberg / In the game “Secret Graves” visitors are immersed in strange worlds

A pile of broken pieces appears on the tablet. Step by step, it is important to carefully push the individual parts with your fingertips to form a bowl. And suddenly a new hint appeared: the code was scanned again, and a pig could be seen – perhaps once a grandiose feast for the Celtic prince from Magdalenberg in Villingen.



Villingen Schöningen. Starting in September, the Franciscan Museum will take a new route back in the history of the early Celts. Together with a team of specialists, project manager Peter Graßmann uses augmented reality technology, a computer-aided augmented reality, to give visitors unusual and exciting access to the archaeology and world of the Celts. “Secret Excavation” is the name of the game that prompts a search for clues in the Magdalenburg tomb section of the Celtic Prince.

Once you start the program on the tablet, you are drawn into the midst of events around the mysterious site, which has long been haunted by grave robbers before archaeologists began the first excavations in 1890 in search of treasure. Decades passed before it was possible in the early 1970s to discover 126 later tombs in Magdalenburg with funeral goods and to get an impression of the riches that the prince might have taken with him to his tomb in order to travel to another world to be prepared.

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More than 2,600 years later, a museum visitor equipped with a tablet suddenly finds himself in the middle of a conference by archaeologist Anna Wagner and tries to help her unravel the secrets of the museum’s findings about the preserved tomb. Like a WhatsApp conversation, the researcher gives her colleagues more and more jobs. Each puzzle begins with AugmentedReality (AR) icons scattered throughout the section. In the case of the few remains of a car in one of the facades, for example, it is about assembling a wheel of speakers on the screen from fragments. And if you solve the puzzle, you can look at a 3D model of what such a car might look like as a bonus.

The background knowledge is in between chatting in short texts, with one click the player gets more information, and can see the graphics and images in peace. If you are more interested in the game, you can go directly to the next task. In order to solve it to the satisfaction of the archaeologist and get to the next level, it is often necessary to take a closer look at the exhibits, whether on the skeleton of the prince, jewelry or weapons. The new scientific findings, especially in comparison with other sites such as Kappel-Grafenhausen or Hohmichele, make it possible to reconstruct the discoveries. Little by little, the prince’s burial chamber was filled, at least roughly, with the treasures that the thieves had taken with them.




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Peter Graßmann developed this game and plot with startup Numena, virtual reality engineers from Tuttlingen and Archaeological Illustrations company, Visualization in Art and Science in Berlin. Years ago, he saw a digital model of a dinosaur in a museum in Great Britain and was excited about the technology, says a research assistant at the Franciscan Museum. At first he had the idea of ​​using augmented reality technology to show what a burial chamber might look like. When the country launched the Digital Paths to the Museum program, the Franciscan Museum applied for funding in 2018 and received €40,000, Grassman explains. In addition, Sparkasse Schwarzwald-Baar sponsored the project. The media and film company Baden-Württemberg spent a year extensively preparing the museum for the project. From the scheme of conceiving the burial chamber, the complex plot of the game arose, which involves the visitor of the museum and has some surprising, and sometimes even shocking, twists.

It took more than an hour for the “secret excavation” to be over and the final mystery solved. It’s almost a shame that there’s no more AR code hidden anywhere, but the player from the Celtic Prince realm has to reappear and the special kind of chatting on the tablet is interrupted.

Additional information:

The Mysterious Tomb is available September 1 in the Magdalenburg Cemetery section of the Celtic Prince of the Franciscan Museum. Like entry to the permanent exhibition, borrowing the tablets is free. When developing the plot, Project Director Peter Grassman had in mind the target group of 20-55-year-olds or older teens, who enjoy digital technology and want to discover the treasures of the Celts themselves. The third testing phase is currently in progress, then programming for the final version will begin. Graßmann is sure that this project, which combines playful elements and entertaining knowledge transfer, will create something unique in the entire region.

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Frank Mccarthy

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