War. Tracing an evolution

24. October 2018 – 28. April 2019
An exhibition, being held in cooperation with the Sachsen-Anhalt State Museum of Prehistory
This exhibition, a cooperation with the Sachsen-Anhalt State Museum of Prehistory, invites visitors to embark on an archeological journey, taking them back more than 7,000 years to the earliest origins of military conflict.

In humans, biological and cultural evolution interact strongly. Ironically, the creative power that results from this connection also produces deadly weapons. The development from tool to weapon, from single combat to mass murder, from the mythical "hero" to the nameless soldier serving as "cannon fodder", is the central theme of the exhibition.

Thereby, the exhibition uses historical evidence to address fundamental questions. What is aggression? When did humans start fighting wars? Is war part of human nature and, therefore, inevitable? When were the first organized wars that used purpose-made metal weapons? Since when have the elites led anonymous soldiers into battle?

The main object of the exhibition is a mass grave from the Thirty Years’ War, which was excavated and removed from the ground in one piece. Researchers have investigated the 47 bodies found in the mass grave, using state-of-the-art techniques in order to reconstruct as much detail as possible about the victims’ stories and causes of death. Thus, it was finally possible to give the nameless soldiers their personal biography.
Archeological and anthropological research in Austria has also revealed important insights into the art of warfare and the consequences of war from prehistory and early history all the way through to the modern age. Examples include forensic-anthropological examinations of skeletons of soldiers who fell in the battles of Asparn and Deutsch Wagram during the Napoleonic War of 1809. Their bones tell us about the fate of the individuals who fought in these battles.

Other objects from civilian life in the post-war period show just how far-reaching and destructive the consequences of war can be even for survivors. The exhibition concludes with a collection of prosthetics, which were designed to make the lives of wounded soldiers easier and as part of the Anatomical Collection at the NHM Vienna today serve as a reminder of the end of the First World War in 1918.

The exhibition “War. Tracing an evolution” is a contribution to the European Heritage Year 2018 (100 years after the end of World War I and 400 years after the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War).

Supporting Program:


Guided tours:


NHM Wien Thema:

Führungskarte: 4,00 Euro, zuzüglich Eintritt

Anmeldung zu Führungen für private Gruppen unter: anmeldung@nhm-wien.ac.at

Sonntag, 28. Oktober 2018 und 6. Jänner 2019, 15:30 Uhr
Poetische Führung zum Thema Krieg
Brigitta Schmid

Sonntag, 4. November 2018, 15:30 Uhr
Vom Überfall zum Schlachtfeld
Barbara Hirsch

Sonntag, 2. Dezember 2018 und 24. Februar 2019, 15:30 Uhr
Andrea Stadlmayr

Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2018, 15:30 Uhr
Tiere als Soldaten
Andreas Hantschk

Sonntag, 20. Jänner 2019, 15:30 Uhr
Eine Spirale der Gewalt
Anton Kern

Mittwoch, 6. Februar 2019, 17:00 Uhr
Krieg und Gewalt - eine archäologische Spurensuche
Barbara Hirsch

Mittwoch, 6. März 2019, 17:00 Uhr
Krieg ausstellen
Reinhard Golebiowski und Martin Kohlbauer

Mittwoch, 3. April 2019, 17:00 Uhr
Sabine Eggers

NHM Vienna Lecture:


Mittwoch, 24. Oktober 2018, 18:30 Uhr
Helden, Fürsten und Armeen - Wie in der Bronzezeit aus Kriegern Soldaten wurden
Harald Meller (Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle)

Mittwoch, 7. November 2018, 18:30 Uhr
Das Schlachtfeld von Deutsch Wagram - Eine archäologische Untersuchung
Alexander Stagl und Slawomir Konik (Novetus GmbH - Archäologie und Architektur)

Mittwoch, 28. November 2018, 18:30 Uhr
Konflikte und rituelle Gewalt  - Beispiele vom Neolithikum bis zur Bronzezeit
Alexandra Krenn-Leeb (Universität Wien)

Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2018, 18:30 Uhr
Führen Schimpansen Krieg? Aggression unter Schimpansen und die Ursachen
Roman M. Wittig (Max Planck Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie, Leipzig)

Mittwoch, 19. Dezember 2018, 18:30 Uhr
Himmelszeichen und Weltgeschehen im Dreißigjährigen Krieg
Andreas Bähr (Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt)

Mittwoch, 16. Jänner 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Leben und Tod in den Napoleonischen Kriegen
Michaela Binder (Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut)

Mittwoch, 30. Jänner 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Krieg ausstellen - Eine museologische Annäherung
Bettina Habsburg-Lothringen (Universalmuseum Joanneum Graz)

Mittwoch, 13. Februar 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Krieg - eine archäologische Spurensuche
Michael Schefzik (Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle)

Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Das Massengrab von Lützen - Schaufenster des Dreißigjährigen Krieges
Nicole Nicklisch und Susanne Friedrich (Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle)

Mittwoch, 6. März 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Tatort Asparn/Schletz (NÖ) - Gewaltereignise vor 7000 Jahren
Maria Teschler-Nicola (NHM Wien)

Mittwoch, 27. März 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Die Heimat als Schlachtfeld des Ersten Weltkrieges
Manfried Rauchensteiner (Universität Wien)

Mittwoch, 24. April 2019, 18:30 Uhr
Von der Angst im Krieg
Leopold Toifl (Universalmuseum Joanneum Graz)

Workshops in the NHM Vienna "Friedenswerkstatt"


Knöcherne Indizien - Die Erforschung menschlicher Skelette
Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2018
Sonntag, 10. Februar 2019,
Sonntag, 17. März 2019
jeweils 14:00 - 17:30 Uhr

Karin Wiltschke und Andrea Stadlmayr (NHM Wien)

Begegnungen mit Text und Sprache:
Moderation: Erwin Uhrmann (Schriftsteller) und Iris Ott (NHM Wien)

- Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2018, 18:00 - 20:30 Uhr
Bertha von Suttner revisited

- Samstag, 19. Jänner 2019, 14:00 - 17:00 Uhr
Friedenswerkstatt: Peace - Eine unterschätzte Größe

- Sonntag, 3. März 2019, 14:00 - 17:00 Uhr
Der Nachkrieg
Filmprogram in cooperation with "Österreichisches Filmmuseum"

In cooperation with the Natural History Museum Vienna and alongside the exhibition War. Tracing an Evolution, the Austrian Film Museum will show a series of films that trace archeology, (re)construction, and the evolution of war stories in movies. A range of both historical and contemporary classics will be screened every Thursday and and on select Sundays between January 10th and February 28th, 2019 (on January 10th, 13th, 17th, 20th, 24th, 27th, 31st, as well as February 3rd, 7th, 14th, 28th). The choice of topics comprises early epics such as Rex Ingram's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), groundbreaking docudramas  by Peter Watkins, and anti-war poetry such as Andrej Tarkovskij's Ivan's Childhood (1921), and also Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985), as well as the historical psychedelic film A Field in England directed by Ben Wheatley (2013).

Thursday, January 10, 2019, 8.30 p.m.
A Field in England
(Ben Wheatley, UK, 2013, 90 min., DCP)
Sunday, January 13, 2019, 3 p.m.
Ivanovo detstvo (Iwans Kindheit)
(Andrej Tarkovskij, USSR, 1962, 94 min., 35mm)
Thursday, January 17, 2019, 6.30 p.m.
Men in War
(Anthony Mann, USA, 1957, 102 min., 35mm)
Sunday, January 20, 2019, 3 p.m.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
(Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, UK, 1943, 163 min., 35mm)
Thursday, January 24, 2019, 6.3
(Peter Watkins, UK, 1964, 72 min., 35mm)
The War Game
(Peter Watkins, UK, 1965, 47 min., 35mm)
Sunday, January 27, 2019, 3 p.m.
(Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1985, 160 min., 35mm)
Thursday, January 31, 2019, 6.30 p.m. (double-bill)
(Stuart Cooper, UK, 1975, 83 min., 35mm)
Sunday, February 3, 2019, 3 p.m.
The Thin Red Line
(Terrence Malick, USA, 1998, 169 min., 35mm)
Thursday, Februrary 7, 2019, 6.30. p.m.
Dead Birds
(Robert Gardner, USA, 1963, 83 min., 35mm)
Thursday, February 14, 2019, 6.30 p.m.
It Happened Here
(Kevin Brownlow, UK, 1965, 100 min., 35mm)
Thursday, February 21, 2019, 6.30 p.m.
Oh! Uomo
(Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricci Lucchi, Italien, 2004, 71 min., 35mm)
Thursday, February 28, 2019, 6.30 p.m.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
(Rex Ingram, USA, 1921, 132 min., 35mm)

NHM Vienna Behind the Scenes:


Sonntag, 4. November 2018, 11:00 Uhr
Wege aus dem Anthropologischen Depot
Margit Berner (NHM Wien)

Sonntag, 2. Dezember 2018, 11:00 Uhr
Der Wert der Toten
Sabine Eggers (NHM Wien)
#NHMLoveNotWar – The Instagram-Challenge accompanying the exhibition
„Make love, not war“ – using this motto we want to fill the digital world with peace!
Share your individual pictures of peace and love as an antithesis to war – whether in the city, in the nature or in your personal environment!

You can submit your images on Instagram from October 24th, 2018, until March 31st, 2019, using the hashtag #NHMLoveNotWar.
Our partners of the challenge are Instagramers Austria and Instagramers Vienna.
The best images will be selected each month and will be shown on a screen in hall 50 („Peace Gallery“). Furthermore, the best 50 images will be part of the peace-book, which will be handed to the Federal President of Austria after the end of the exhibition.
The jury consists of the following members:
#NHMLoveNotWar – please use this hashtag, so that we can find your pictures.
More: #nhmwien #nhmwienkrieg #igersvienna #igersaustria
@nhmwien @igersvienna @igersaustria.at
  1. Prize: mussels and asparagus dinner in the historic atmosphere of NHM Vienna, an exhibition package for „War. Tracing an evolution“ (1x2 tickets and an exhibition catalogue), 1x Staud’s edition „Sisi & Franz“. In addition, the image will be shown in the exhibition in hall 50 and will be prominently positioned in the book handed to the President of Austria.
  2. Prize: an NHM Vienna-museum package: 1x2 tickets, a voucher for a guided tour of your choice, a book about the museum, 1x Staud’s edition „Sisi & Franz“.
  3. Prize: 2x2 tickets for NHM Vienna, 1x Staud’s edition „Sisi & Franz“
You can find the conditions of participation here.
Find our blog for the current exhibition under the link below!
[All entries are written in German.]

For our school program click here.