As the show case of the Saxon State Office for Archaeology, the smac – Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz – presents 300,000 years of human history.
Between 2,500 and 500 BC one of the largest prehistoric burial grounds in central Europe was created on the Schafberg of Niederkaina, near Bautzen. The large number of superbly furnished burial chambers enables in-depth knowledge to be gained of death rituals, social structures and their transformation over a period of 3,000 years and allows parallels to be drawn with different eras and cultures and how they in turn dealt with death.
The “farewell paths” are corridors of varying colours, in which visitors can pass through different stages of mourning, reminiscence and parting. The interaction of light and shade, of black, white and colour effectively expresses the aspect of transcendence and transition from this side to the other, from finite to infinite and from life to death, in all of its facets.
The funeral rituals of the prehistoric burial site and over 700 exhibits movingly and emotionally present “living with death” with coloured animation and unusual spatial division. The “procession of mourners” on a human scale enables the visitor to experience the Bronze Age rites on the same level, leading into the centre of the exhibition – the burial ritual of Niederkaina with its pyramid-shaped, intricate construction of an abstracted funeral pyre.