Department of Prehistory, collection Early Iron Age

Natural History Museum Vienna

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Electronic database / Collection

Short Description

C. 100,000 archaeological artefacts from all cultural groups of the Hallstatt period in Central Europe - within a time-frame c. 800 and 400 BCE are housed at the collection Early Iron Age, housed at the Natural History Museum Vienna.

From approx. 800 BCE a new cultural epoch begins in Central Europe: the Iron Age. Iron is then among the most important metal used in the manufacture of tools, implements and weapons. Agriculture is intensified and trade is expanded across the entire continent, even as far as Africa and Asia. In this period, also the emergence of social, cultural and religious centers can be seen as leading entities in specific regions. This section of Central European history is also known as Hallstatt culture - named after the site of Hallstatt in Upper Austria, which is an important case study for research activities of the Department of Prehistory at the Natural History Museum Vienna for over hundred years.

Significant complexes within the Early Iron Age collection are, for example, the cemeteries of the Eastern Hallstatt culture such as Magdalenska Gora or Vace in Slovenia, Sopron in Hungary or Gemeinlebarn and Statzendorf in Austria. Most of the finds from the famous Hallstatt burial ground are in this collection.

One of the most famous objects in the collection Early Iron Age is the bull from Býčí skála, a cave in the Moravian Karst in the Czech Republic near Brno. Important artefacts of the collection are also artefacts of the so called Situlae Art, vessels, belt plates, scabbards that are decorated with contemporary depictions, giving insights into the social hierarchy, rituals and activities of the elites.

Contact Person

Dr. Anton Kern

Research Services

Identification of artifacts in terms of chronological and regional distribution possible on request, information about the collection material and context information about the excavations.

Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure

Collection, conservation and research of material remains of human history.
Macroscopic and microscopic analysis of the artifacts, interdisciplinary cooperation with other departments, especially the central research laboratories of the NHM Vienna.
Contextualization of the artifacts with the archaeological evidence, studying the documentation of the excavations (images, graphics, excavation documentation, etc.). For artefacts that were excavated in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, historical documents and images from the excavations or collections / acquisitions are to be studied (archives of the prehistoric department).

Allocation to Core Facility

Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna

Dr. Anton Kern
Prähistorische Abteilung
+43 1 52177-277
Appointment necessary.
Analysis of the original artifacts is provided due to the Austrian Monument Protection laws.
Sampling of objects is only possible within the framework of scientific cooperation.
Salinen Austria
Cultural Heritage Authority Austria
University Vienna
Austrian Academy of Sciences
GRÖMER, K. & KERN, A. (eds.) (2018): Artifacts. Treasures of the Millennia. A Guide through the Prehistoric Collection. Natural History Museum Vienna Exhibition guide. Wien 2018: Verlag des Naturhistorischen Museums.