Prähistorie Collection Hallstatt

Natural History Museum Vienna

Wien | Website

Electronic database / Collection

Short Description

A bundle of more than 100,000 individual artifacts and historical documents from Hallstatt are a special collection part within the Department of Prehistory of the Natural History Museum.

The archaeological site Hallstatt, eponymous for an entire epoch (Early Iron Age in Central Europe), has been the focus of research in the department for over 100 years. The cemetery, salt mine, the entire economic area around the salt mine and textile research are currently the focus of the scientific research.

The Hallstatt cemetery with cremation and inhumation burials from the period between 800 and 400 BC, is equipped with extremely rich grave goods. The artefacts attest to extensive contacts such as glass vessels from Northern Italy, objects from Slovenia or the hilt of a sword with Asian or African ivory and inlays made from Baltic amber. According to current estimates, the cemetery should have comprised a total of 5,000 to 6,000 burials.

In prehistoric times, salt was mined at Hallstatt especially in the Bronze and Iron Ages. In addition to ceramics and metals, the special conditions in the mine also preserve organic artefacts made of wood, leather or textile. Such, research on the organization and mining techniques to extract salt in prehistoric times is in focus.

The research on the archaeological landscape around Hallstatt deals with the economic structure needed for the mining activity and how the individual requirements (e.g. operating resources, work and food) could be met. In addition to the site Hallstatt, the surrounding area is also being researched using landscape and environmental archaeological methods and computer simulations.

The research in the salt mine and cemetery was initially carried out by employees of the Hallstatt saltworks, such as Johann Georg Ramsauer and his colleague Isidor Engl in mid 19th century. The Natural History Museum Vienna participated in this from the 1880s. The excavations in the cemetery are headed by Dr. Anton Kern, those in the salt mine by Dr. Hans Reschreiter (continuing the mining research by Fritz-Eckart Barth).

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 the site Hallstatt. 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, historical documents etc.).

Allocation to Core Facility

Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna

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
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences
University Vienna
University of Applied Arts
Cultural Heritage Authorities Austria
Overview (cemetery, saltmine and landscape archaeology)
K. Grömer & A. Kern (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.
A. Kern, K, Kowarik, A. Rausch & H. Reschreiter (Hrsg) (2009): Kingdom of Salt, 7000 years of Hallstatt Hallstatt. Veröffentlichungen der Prähistorischen Abteilung (VPA) 3, Wien.
Reschreiter, H., Kowarik, K. (2019): Bronze Age mining in Hallstatt. A new picture of everyday life in the salt mines and beyond. Archaeologia Austriaca 103, 99–136, DOI:

Virtual Archaeology Hallstatt
Reschreiter, H., Brandner, D., Cölsch, J., Slamar, I., Prenner, J., Poppenwimmer, F., Scheucher, A., Salzwelten (2019): Virtual Hallstatt – experience the hidden World Cultural Heritage Site. In: Karl, R., Leskovar, J. (Eds), Interpretierte Eisenzeiten, Studien zur Kulturgeschichte von Oberösterreich 49, Linz 2019, 359-366.

Experimental archaeology
Reschreiter, H. (2017): 40 Years of Underground Experiments
-, Getting to know the prehistoric Hallstatt salt mine with the aid of experimental archaeology. Experimentelle Archäologie in Europa, Jahrbuch 2017, Heft 16, Unteruhldingen, 45-59.

P. Bichler, K. Grömer, R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, A. Kern & H. Reschreiter (2005): Hallstatt Textiles, Technical Analysis, Scientific Investigation and Experiment on Iron Age Textiles. BAR International Series 1351.
K. Grömer, A. Kern, H. Reschreiter & H. Rösl-Mautendorfer (Eds.) (2013): Textiles from Hallstatt, Archaeolingua, 29, Budapest 13-32.

Landscape and environmental Archaeology
Kowarik, K., (2019). Hallstätter Beziehungsgeschichten. Wirtschaftsstrukturen und Umfeldbeziehungen der bronze- und ältereisenzeitlichen Salzbergbaue von Hallstatt/OÖ. (Mit Beiträgen von Michael Grabner, Julia Klammer, Konrad Mayer, Hans Reschreiter, Elisabeth Wächter und Georg Winner). Studien zur Kulturgeschichte von Oberösterreich 50.