Our history

History of Messel

Today Messel is an independent place with about 4000 inhabitants 12 km northeast of Darmstadt. A district is called Grube Messel and had developed differently historically. Messel has an elementary school and two kindergartens, a train station which is on the Darmstadt/Aschaffenburg route and a bus connection (RMV F/U-Bus), a sports hall and an industrial area in the district Grube Messel. The village is essentially oriented towards Darmstadt. In the past it lived mainly from farming, but today it has few small companies and is mainly a place to sleep for people who work in the vicinity.
From about 1860 to the 1960s there was a large industrial plant in the village, which extracted mineral oil products from the deposits of a 48 million year old lake and thus gave bread and work to up to 600 people in the area. Messel became famous for the plant and animal fossils found in the sediment of the tertiary lake, which are very well preserved and have therefore been ennobled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
48 million years ago
Formation of a deep lake

 

  • When the hot liquid magma came into contact with groundwater, a few explosions created a lake up to 200 m deep, which existed for around 1 million years
  • Animals and plants fell into the lake and settled in the sediments
  • Due to favorable boundary conditions, the fossils were very well preserved
from 4000 years BC
Historical development of Messel
  • 4000 years Neolithic, Bell Beaker
  • 1800 -750 BC (tumuli and urn fields in the area)
  • 750 BC - 0, Celtic influenced Iron Age
  • 50 B.C. - 260 AD Roman occupation. Ceramic finds from the forest around Messel date from the time of the Roman administrative center in Dieburg.
  • 18.01.800 in the deed of donation to the Lorsch monastery the name Masilla (for Messel) is mentioned for the first time.
From 1860
Industrial history

 

  • 1860-64 Discovery of the "Messel brown coal", the pressed sediment of the lake ("oil shale")

  •  Around 1876 the first fossil was found, an alligator, and thereafter fossils were recovered from time to time

  • 1884 Start of mining, use of the oil shale for the production of mineral oil products (coke, tumenol, paraffin, tar, petrol, diesel, etc.)

  • 1900-1924 Construction of new circular kilns, which yielded 95% crude oil

  • 1924 Messel pit generates 35% of German oil production

  • 1945 war damage

  • 1954 The "Paraffin- und Mineralölwerk Messel GmbH" is founded.

  • 1962 Smoldering Shutdown

  • excavations by amateur paleontologists and scientists in the pit begin

  • 1971 decision to use the abandoned opencast mine of the Messel pit as a dump

  • 1971 Founding of the citizens' initiative to prevent that waste dump in the Messel pit

  • 1978 Founding of the Messel Museum Association (“Museumsverein Messel”)

  • 1980 Opening of the Messel Fossil and Local History Museum

  • 1988 Court decision to reject the plan approval decision

  • 1991 the state of Hesse buys the pit, increased excavation activities research and visitor facility

  • 1995 Designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • 2010 Opening of a visitor information center at the edge of the pit

  • From 2020 excavations now under strict conditions of the Hesse Monument Protection Office, primarily by the Senckenberg Institute and the Hessian State Museum Darmstadt

Forschungsstätte
  • 1995 Designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • 2010 Opening of a visitor information center at the edge of the pit
  • From 2020 Excavations now carried out under strict conditions by the Hesse Office for the Protection of Monuments, primarily by the Senckenberg Institute and the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt