La Tène Period settlement (400 BC 30 AD)Remains of wooden La Tène Period buildings from the 1st century BC have been preserved in the alpine moorland at the Dammwiese site. This La Tène Period settlement is the oldest prehistoric settlement found so far in Hallstatt. It was discovered during excavation work carried out in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Large drainage systems were created for the wooden residential and farm buildings.
La Tène Period mine (400 BC 30 AD)In the 1930s remains of mining activity from the La Tène Period were found at the Dammwiese, a moorland meadow 1357 meters above sea level. Its altitude would have offered protection from landslides even in prehistoric times. Among the most impressive remains is a fully preserved tunnel entrance including remnants of the building that once would have surrounded this access point in the 1st century AD.
Bronze Age mining (2100 800 BC)The earliest mining activity in Hallstatt can be dated to around 1500 BC, making the salt mines of Hallstatt the oldest in the world. Traces of Bronze Age mining have been found in modern-era pits including the Appoldwerk, the Christian von Tuschwerk and the Grünerwerk.
The climate inside the mines is ideal for preserving organic material such as textiles and wood. Among the many finds are unique examples of technological progress, such as the oldest wooden stairs ever found in Europe. These objects make it possible to reconstruct in detail the mining processes carried out over 3000 years ago.
Mining in the Hallstatt Period (800 400 BC)The earliest traces of mining during the Hallstatt Period date to around 300 years after the last evidence of Bronze Age mining. During the Hallstatt Period mining was carried out in a different area using new methods. Whereas Bronze Age miners smashed the rock into small pieces, Hallstatt Period miners extracted salt in the form of bars.
Many tools from this period show signs of having been repaired. Other items were used for new purposes after they had broken a sign of efficient resource management. The organic finds from this site, such as textiles and wood, are of particular importance to the research community as material such as this from the Hallstatt Period is rarer than similar material from the preceding Bronze Age.
Bronze Age meat processing industry (2100 800 BC)The people living in Hallstatt during the Bronze Age not only mined salt but also cured meat. Remains of several wooden buildings found at the site provide evidence of this meat-curing industry. Tubs used for curing meat have been carbon-dated to the 13th and 12th century BC. Each would have held between 150 and 200 animals. Bone remains indicate that pigs were the main source of meat and that the animals were slaughtered before being brought into the Salzbergtal valley.
Hallstatt Period burial site (800 400 BC)Both its size and the exceptional diversity of the burial gifts found there make the burial site at Hallstatt one of the most important archaeological locations in the world. The valuable items contained in the graves, which date from between 800 and approximately 350 BC, come from across Europe. Therefore, it can be assumed that the residents of Hallstatt had a rich network of contacts with almost the entire known world at the time.
Around 1500 graves have been excavated to date, most in the 19th and early 20th century. Recent excavations carried out since the 1990s have revealed that the people buried at the site engaged in very strenuous physical work, so this burial site with its many valuable gifts must have been used as a final resting place for miners.
Roman settlement and cemetery (30 400 AD)In the early 1st century AD a Roman settlement was established on the banks of Hallstaetter See lake, today the site of Hallstatt Lahn. The remains of the residential buildings show that they were constructed using stone, had underfloor heating and were decorated with wall paintings.
In 1983 an emergency excavation discovered a Roman cremation burial site close to the settlement, though these graves were later covered over as the settlement expanded. The stone-box graves at the burial site contained urns and in some cases burial gifts of great value.
Research conditions in Hallstatt MarktArchaeological research work is particularly challenging in the center of Hallstatt, on the narrow shore of Hallstätter See lake. Settlements have existed here since at least the Middle Ages, though it is likely that the first settlers arrived much earlier. As each new wave of settlers arrived, they destroyed traces of previous settlements. Over the course of its long history Hallstatt Markt has again and again been hit by landslides and debris flows. These crush and cover items of archaeological interest and can also leave behind deep craters which have to be filled in with earth itself containing archaeological finds from other locations.
Another factor which makes research work in the area so difficult is the fact that Hallstatt today still has many buildings. Therefore, archaeologists have only a few windows of opportunity to gain an insight into the regions history when construction work has to be carried out on these buildings. In such cases, researchers have to move fast excavation and construction sites inevitably block access roads which must be reopened as quickly as possible. The sparse, and therefore highly valuable, information gathered so far at Hallstatt Markt has not revealed a homogenous picture of life in the area.