hallstatt
 

Dating the Hallstatt burial site

The famous prehistoric cemetery at Hallstatt was used throughout the 400-year Hallstatt Period (800-400 BC). The youngest graves belong to the following La Tène culture during the Celtic period.

The oldest graves (from 800 BC)
Warrior graves from 800 to 600 BC (Ha C)
Warrior graves from 600 BC until the end of use (Ha D, Lt A)
 

The oldest graves (from 800 BC)

The first burials started at the end of the Bronze Age, approximately 800 BC. Unlike many other cemeteries, Hallstatt does not seem to hold a genuine central area with ancient burials. The known early graves are widely scattered, which might suggest that the cemetery was begun simultaneously in different places to accommodate members of different families or clans. Most recent excavations unearthed two very early burials close to one another, both furnished with a diagnostic integral-tanged  knife (Vollgriffmesser) and with ceramics dating from a very early stage of the Hallstatt period. In comparison with the later vessels painted red (ferrous oxide) and black (graphite), the ceramics from these graves only show flat graphite coating in the upper parts.
 

Warrior graves from 800 to 600 BC (Ha C)

The classical bronze or iron Hallstatt swords in the so-called warrior graves are characteristic of the older phase of the Hallstatt Culture, between 800 and c. 600 BC (phase Ha C). The most elaborate among them have sophisticated ivory handles, sometimes adorned with amber inlays. So far, the cemetery has yielded a total of 20 swords, the last of which was found in 1995.
 

Warrior graves from 600 BC until the end of use (Ha D, Lt A)

The socalled ‘antenna-hilted daggers’ found in the warrior graves are characteristic of the later phase of the Hallstatt Culture in the cemetery, covering the period between 600 and c. 400 BC (phase Ha D). They suggest changes in the warfare of the time. The prestigious weapons often have magnificent handles, sometimes in the form of very abstract humans’ shapes. The last two items unearthed in the course of the recent excavations also have antenna-hilts in the form of stylised human figures. Among the most recent finds are grave furnishings with items dating from the La Tène Culture, such as those documented below by the famous grave sword from around 380 BC.

(Kern, A.)