HEAS Keynote Lecture by Ernst Pernicka: The Sky Disc of Nebra: A window to the Bronze Age world in Europe and beyond

We are looking forward to welcoming Prof. Dr. Ernst Pernicka from Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie, Mannheim and Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, University of Tübingen,

Early in the year 2002 a sensational find was rescued from the antiques market. It consisted of several bronze objects from clandestine excavations. They were reported to derive from a hoard in central Germany including including a bronze disc of about 32 cm diameter on which the night sky is depicted with gold inlays. In addition, two swords with gold decorated hilts, two flanged axes, a chisel and two arm spirals, all made of bronze, belonged to the hoard. These accompanying finds date the hoard securely to the developed central European Early Bronze Age (phase A3) and therefore around 1600 BC. The find is so exceptional, because the “Sky Disc of Nebra” is the earliest astronomically identifiable representation of the night sky, which has considerable implications concerning archaeoastronomy, archaeometallurgy, the history of religion and archaeology. The scientific investigations centered around the question of authenticity, the provenance of the metals and their production technology. All these questions have been resolved and the results will be presented.

This lecture will take place in hybrid form on the 25th November 2022 from 17:00 to 19:00 in Hörsaal 2 at the UBB, our new building in 1030 Wien (Map).

To register for this event click here.

Searching for traces: The beginnings of agriculture

VIAS archaeologist Maria Ivanova-Bieg is reconstructing the lives of the first farmers in Europe with the help of isotope analyses. The scientist and her work are presented in the science magazine of the University of Vienna - Rudolphina.

Link to the Video

Monograph published by VIAS scientist Mathias Mehofer

VIAS scientist Mathias Mehofer recently published his monograph "Çukuriçi Höyük 3, Ein frühbronzezeitliches Metallhandwerkerzentrum in Westanatolien, OREA 22, Vienna 2022" on EBA metallurgy found in Western Turkey.

The site was investigated within several FWF, START and ERC grants under the direction B. Horejs. The book itself focuses on the interdisciplinary examination of the metallurgical remains from Çukuriçi Höyük (western Turkey), which date from the Late Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age (c. 3300–2700 BC). The exceptionally rich ensemble includes almost all parts of the technological chain (chaîne opératoire), from tools, casting moulds, furnaces, ores, raw metal and ingots to finished products, tin bronzes and precious metals (Au, Ag).

On the one hand, these remains were classified according to archaeological typological criteria, and on the other hand, they were analysed using various scientific methods (metallography, SEM-EDS, ED-XRF and lead isotope analysis). The arsenical copper production can be regarded as an outstanding result of the research; to date, there are only very few Bronze Age sites where evidence for this is present. The produced As-copper was fed into the East Aegean-West Anatolian networks.

Precious metal and weapons additionally demonstrate that not only everyday objects but also prestige goods were produced. The fact that some of these pieces are locally made of the new – until then unknown – material tin bronze underlines the "gateway function" of the tell on the western Turkish coast. The silver-copper alloy produced on site additionally demonstrates that the metallurgists were integrated into wide-ranging technology and communication networks of Early Bronze Age elites. The concluding holistic discussion of these results makes it possible to gain an in-depth picture of metal craftsmanship and its embedding in Early Bronze Age exchange and social systems. Further information and the Open-Access link can be found under : https://doi.org/10.1553/978OEAW87103

Publication in Nature Communications

On 3 May 2022, the journal Nature Communications published a palaeogenetic study on the distribution of the black rat and connections with economic history from the first to the 17th century in Europe.

VIAS archaeozoologist Günther Karl Kunst and his colleague Silvia Radbauer from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austrian Archaeological Institute, contributed to the study.

Poster prize for Magdalena Blanz

At the UK Archaeological Science conference held in Aberdeen, Scotland on April 20-22 2022, Dr. Magdalena Blanz and colleagues won the Runnerup Poster Prize for early career researchers.

The poster, titled "Ratios of strontium and barium to calcium as complementary palaeodietary indicators of seaweed consumption", describes research done by Magdalena and colleagues during her doctoral studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland. This research has now been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

New article on Late Bronze Age Copper exchange networks in the western and central Balkans published in PLOS ONE

The team led by Mario Gavranović of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and VIAS archaeometallurgist Mathias Mehofer published their findings from the interdisciplinary research project on Late Bronze Age copper production and raw material procurement networks in the Western and Central Balkans in the online journal of the Public Library of Science, PLOS ONE, on 11 March 2022.

The article "Emergence of monopoly - Copper exchange networks during the Late Bronze Age in the western and central Balkans" by Mario Gavranović, Mathias Mehofer, Aleksandar Kapuran, Jovan Koledin, Jovan Mitrović, Aleksandra Papazovska, Andrijana Pravidur, Aca Đorđević and Dragan Jacanović is available online with free access.

Egyptologist Irmgard Hein reports in the Austrian Radio Ö1 on the Egyptian Expansion

Deputy director of VIAS, Ass. Prof. Irmgard Hein, reports in the Austrian Radio Series Ö1 "Betrifft: Geschichte" from Monday November 15th 2021 until Friday 19th between 17:55 and 18:00 on the Egyptian Expansion - the rise of the Pharaonic Empire.

Presentation of VIAS in the Journal IANSA

A Backstory Article on VIAS has been published in the journal IANSA (Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica – Natural Sciences in Archaeology). The article presents the work and research activities of VIAS and can be downloaded as PDF file here

International Workshop

Alpine Copper in the Vinschgau

Date: May 28th – 29 2021

Place: Online (YouTube Channel of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum)

Organisers: Mathias Mehofer (VIAS - University of Vienna) and Thomas Koch Waldner (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum)


Researcher joins VIAS

In November 2020, postdoctoral researcher Dr Magdalena Blanz joined the VIAS group. She is working in Ass.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Maria Ivanova-Bieg's project Farmers without Borders: Ecological perspectives on the spread of animal husbandry from the Mediterranean to southeast Europe (6500-5500 BC), funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.

Magdalena's research focusses on the analysis of bioarchaeological remains (e.g. bones, teeth, cereal grains) and modern reference collections by means of isotope ratio and trace element mass spectrometry. She undertook her doctoral research at the Orkney Archaeology Institute (Scotland), where she further developed methods of identifying seaweed consumption in archaeological contexts and studied the effects of seaweed fertilisation on grain crops. For her Master's degree in chemistry, Magdalena researched diagenetic markers for strontium isotope ratio analyses of human remains.