HEAS Annual Keynote Lecture

On June 28th 2024, Prof. Eszter Bánffy, president of the European Association of Archaeologists, will give the Annual HEAS Keynote Lecture on 'New strategies and coping practices of early farmers taking the Danubian route (6000-5350 cal BC)'.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences) and organises the Archaeological Sciences events in collaboration with the other HEAS partners.

Register for participation in the event here.

FWF recognises successful women and their achievements in science

VIAS staff member and ESPRIT Fellow Michaela Schauer BA MA ACIfA was presented with the certificate for her Esprit project 'Standardising portable Xray Fluorescence for archaeometry' during a festive ceremony organised by the FWF. The event celebrated successful women in science, provided networking opportunities and highlighted women and their achievements as outstanding scientists.

HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar Vortrag by Dr. Dennis Wilken

On March 18th 2024, Dr. Dennis Wilken from Christian-Albrechts University Kiel gave a presentation on 'Ships, harbours and waterways – Geophysical prospection in shallow waters and tidal flats' as part of the HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar Series.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences) and organises the Archaeological Sciences seminar series in collaboration with the other HEAS partners.

Click here to see the recorded lecture online.

VIAS staff member Günther Karl Kunst’s latest publication featured in Science ORF

VIAS staff member Günther Karl Kunst’s had his publication on ‘The 10,000-year biocultural history of fallow deer and its implications for conservation policy’ featured on Science ORF, the national public broadcaster for Austria./p>

Lecture at Prehistoric Kolloquium Cologne by Magdalena Blanz

On 21st December 2023, VIAS researcher Magdalena Blanz will be giving an invited talk at the Prehistoric Kolloqiuum of the University of Cologne, with the title “Of seaweed-eating sheep and fish-eating dogs: Neolithic animal husbandry studied by means of stable isotope ratios”. Participation is possible in person and online:

PLOS ONE publication on animal husbandry at early Neolithic Alsónyék (Hungary)

Magdalena Blanz has recently co-authored an article on early Neolithic husbandry at Alsónyék in Hungary: “Early Neolithic pastoral land use at Alsónyék-Bátaszék, Hungary (Starčevo culture): New insights from stable isotope ratios” in PLOS ONE (available here).

The article investigates early animal management and land use strategies at the Starčevo settlement, through stable isotope ratio analysis of bone collagen and tooth enamel from wild and domestic animals, revealing diverse dietary strategies and seasonal herding practices.

WIRED Magazine Article

In the December 2024 issue of the renowned technology magazine WIRED (published online on Sept. 28 2023), VIAS scientist Immo Trinks and his colleague Alois Hinterleitner from GeoSphere Austria were featured as experts on ground-penetrating radar for archaeological prospection. Author Geoff Manaugh had interviewed Trinks and Hinterleitner among other international GPR specialists and presented his perspective in the article 'Scientists Have an Audacious Plan to Map the Ancient World Before It Disappears'. 

See as well Geoff Manaugh's Blog post on 'The Agency of the subsurface'. 

HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar by Prof. Stefano Campana

On November 27th 2023, Prof. Stefano Campana from the University of Siena gave a presentation on 'Emptyscapes Initiative: A Paradigm Shift in Mediterranean Landscape Archaeology' as part of the HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar Series.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences) and organises the Archaeological Sciences seminar series in collaboration with the other HEAS partners.

Click here to see the recorded lecture online.


Annual HEAS Keynote Lecture by Prof. Johan Rönnby

On November 24th 2023, Prof. Johan Rönnby from Södertörn University Stockholm gave a fascinating presentation on 'Deep Water Archeology. The investigation and interpretation of uniquely preserved shipwrecks in the Baltic and the Black Sea' as the Annual HEAS Keynote Lecture.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences).

Click here to see the recorded lecture online.


Dr. Mathias Mehofer awarded with a EU-H2020-IPERION grant

VIAS staff Member Mathias Mehofer has been awarded a standalone EU-H2020-IPERION project titled “Hallmetals-Archaeometallurgical analyses on metals from the famous Iron Age cemetery of Hallstatt, Austria.  

The discovery of the famous cemetery of Hallstatt, Austria, with its rich and spectacular grave goods, gave its name to an entire prehistoric culture – the Hallstatt culture (ca. 8th to 4th century BC). These metal objects, which are nowadays housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (NHM), represent a remarkable and, to date unexplored, (archaeometallurgical) pool to examine the wide-ranging exchange connections of the prehistoric salt miners. As a first step, a set of 130 gold and copper based metal objects covering the time span of the 8th to the 4th century BC, will be examined for their chemical composition and metal provenance. For the first time, the generated archaeometallurgical database will allow for in-depth analyses of Iron Age metal exchange to the region over vast distances.


Project partners:

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Karina Grömer, Mag. Dr. Georg Tiefengraber, Mag. Daniel Oberndorfer, Conservator-Restorer, Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna

Prof. Dr. Ernst Pernicka, CEZA Mannheim, Germany


HEAS Seed grant awarded to Dr Magdalena Blanz and colleagues

Magdalena Blanz, Günther Grabner, Karin Wiltschke-Schrotta, and Alexandra Krenn-Leeb received a HEAS seed grant for their research project “Diet and Subsistence in the Lower Austrian Early Bronze Age – A bioarchaeological view through C and N stable isotope ratios on selected find complexes of the Wieselburg/Gáta, Unterwölbling and Únětice cultures”.

In this study, they will use bone δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N stable isotope ratios to explore differences in nutrition between people of different Lower Austrian Early Bronze Age cultures. Sample preparation will be undertaken in the VIAS Bioarchaeology Laboratory for Stable Isotope Analysis.

HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar by Prof. Vincent Gaffney

On May 22nd 2023, Prof. Vincent Gaffney from the University of Bradford gave a presentation on 'Not Drowning but Waving! Doggerland and The Lost Frontiers Project' as part of the HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar Series.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences) and organises the Archaeological Sciences seminar series in collaboration with the other HEAS partners.

Click here to see the recorded lecture online.


HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar by Prof. Nicolò Dell'Unto

On May 22nd 2023, Prof. Nicolò Dell'Unto from Lund University's Digital Archaeology Lab gave a presentation on 'The use of 3D spatial technology in support of field practice' as part of the HEAS Archaeological Science Seminar Series.

VIAS is part of the research network HEAS (Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences) and organises the Archaeological Sciences seminar series in collaboration with the other HEAS partners.

Click here to see the recorded lecture online.


Award to Dr Magdalena Blanz

On 13th December 2022, Dr Magdalena Blanz was awarded the BAG-Förderpreis 2021 by the Austrian Society for Bioarchaeology (BAG) for her PhD dissertation titled “Seaweed as food, fodder, and fertiliser: Methods of identification, impacts, and implications of past seaweed use in archaeology”. Magdalena undertook her PhD studies at the Orkney Archaeology Institute from 2016-2020, researching past seaweed consumption, and the implications that seaweed consumption by sheep holds for our understanding of the past, under supervision by Prof Ingrid Mainland (UHI Archaeology Institute), Dr Mark Taggart (UHI ERI), Dr Philippa Ascough (SUERC) and Prof Jörg Feldmann (TESLA, University of Aberdeen).

Magdalena Blanz now leads the VIAS Bioarchaeology Laboratory for Stable Isotope Analysis.

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.

New publication on seaweed-eating sheep at Neolithic Ness of Brodgar

Magdalena Blanz has recently co-authored an article on seaweed-eating sheep: “Life, Death and Teeth of Late Neolithic Sheep and Red Deer Excavated at Ness of Brodgar, Orkney Islands (UK)” in Environmental Archaeology (available here).

The article describes analyses of age at death combined with isotope ratios to gain an insight into past sheep husbandry, and possible management of red deer.

Dr Magdalena Blanz and Brina Zagorc receive HEAS seed grant

Brina Zagorc and Dr Magdalena Blanz received one of three biannual HEAS seed grants for their research project “Health and diet intertwined: co-analysing genetic markers with dietary stable isotopes of subadults from Roman and Early Medieval Croatia”.

With the HEAS Seed grant, they will combine δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N stable isotope ratios, human osteology, and ancient DNA to explore the health status and preferential treatment of subadults through diet, their biological sex, and kinship. Health is often influenced by diet, so studying the relationship between diet, disease, and mortality will provide additional information about the possible familial relations, funerary information, and inferred differences between status according to grave goods.

The laboratory work for this project will be performed at the VIAS Bioarchaeology Laboratory for Stable Isotope Analysis.


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.