One of the main tasks of the Department of Prehistory is not only the preservation and communication of our prehistoric heritage
but also its research.
The scientists at the Department of Prehistory conduct research at the most important sites in Austria, which are often also
among the most important sites in Europe. In doing so they investigate significant stages in the history of mankind from the
Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods, the Bronze and Iron Ages up to the Early Middle Ages, thus gaining new insights into a
period spanning over 100,000 years.
Venus research deals with questions concerning the oldest depictions of women in the world, of which the Natural History Museum’s
Venus of Willendorf is probably the most famous.
A Palaeolithic settlement site is the focus of research at the Kranawetberg in Grub near Stillfried (Lower Austria). It provides
fascinating insights into the way people lived 25,000 years ago. In addition to more than a thousand stone tools and about
5000 stone blades, the site has given rise to a large number of ivory beads and numerous shells and snail shells. These were
used as jewellery.
The investigations in Brunn am Gebirge provide information on the Early Neolithic, the Late Neolithic, the Langobard and the
Avarian periods. The Early Neolithic settlement is currently the focus of research, providing information about the origin
of the Linear Pottery culture.
Since 2011 the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These outstanding archaeological
sites paint a particularly detailed picture of Europe's prehistory thanks to the excellent conditions at wetland sites for
preserving organic material.
The world-famous archaeological site of Hallstatt, which has given its name to a whole epoch of European archaeology in the
Early Iron Age, has been the focus of research for over 100 years. Archaeologists are currently focusing on the burial site, salt mine, the "hipercorig project" and economic infrastructure. Current weblogs on research in Hallstatt: Staircase Blog, Sparkling Science project Wood for Salt.
The Latène period settlement of Roseldorf/Sandberg is the largest central Celtic settlement on Austrian soil. The discovery
of seven sanctuaries to date provides an impressive insight into the beliefs of the Celts, a subject on which there is hardly
any written evidence.
Textile research at the Natural History Museum is based on materials preserved in salt from the Hallstatt salt mine as well as remnants of fabric stuck to metal found in graves in Austria dating from between the prehistoric period and the Middle Ages.
This project focuses on the study of metal idiophones, their function and their acoustic influence on the daily life of people in Central Europe from 800 BC to 800 AD.
Digital archaeology is about networking research data from all areas of archaeology. This involves, on the one hand, making digital information available for sustainable interdisciplinary research (open data) and, on the other hand, opening it up to the public via interactive web applications.