Time Leaps – The Origins
A Time Trip into Salzburg’s Prehistory

  

 

Axe, Fundort: Salzburg-Stadt, Bürglstein (?), Jungsteinzeit, 5500–2200 v. Chr., Serpentin, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 3
Axt, Fundort: Salzburg-Stadt, Bürglstein (?), Jungsteinzeit, 5500–2200 v. Chr., Serpentin, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 3Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Space & Time

What is Prehistory?

Written records have been casting light on human history in Central Europe for no more than approximately 2,000 years. Prior to the Roman occupation around 15 BC, history is documented by archaeological, non-written sources. We find remnants of material culture in settlements, graves and production sites. These archaeological finds and evidence are used to establish chronologies and reconstruct the cultures of the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. Pre- and protohistoric archaeology in Salzburg Land investigates all aspects of life since 10000 BC: the relationship of people to their environment, illness and death, religion and faith, the social structure and the economic and cultural contacts between the population groups.

Hammer, Fundort: Mühlbach am Hochkönig, Mitterberg, Bronzezeit, 2200–1200 v. Chr., Holz, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 1562
Hammer, Fundort: Mühlbach am Hochkönig, Mitterberg, Bronzezeit, 2200–1200 v. Chr., Holz, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 1562Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Man – Environment – Settlement

Man Shapes the Environment

Starting around 10000 BC, small, nomadic groups roamed through a richly wooded landscape, hunting and sheltering under rock spurs, in tents or huts. Beginning around 4000 BC, the settled farming cultures of the Neolithic were the first to make a massive encroachment upon the natural environment: they cleared forests with fire and stone axes to gain land for agriculture, pastures and settlement. Timber extraction for Bronze Age mining and the smelting of copper ores on the Mitterberg left open spaces that were liable to erosion and landslides. As of 200 BC, the buildings and fortifications of the first towns of the Iron Age consumed enormous quantities of building timber. The population concentration in a restricted space created problems of hygiene and the supply of drinking water; the incessant exploitation of raw materials led to dangerous pollution from heavy metals.

Stag statuette, Fundort: Saalfelden, Biberg, Mittel- und Spätlatènezeit, 275–15 v. Chr., Bronze, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 240-69
Stag statuette, Fundort: Saalfelden, Biberg, Mittel- und Spätlatènezeit, 275–15 v. Chr., Bronze, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 240-69Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Religion – Myth – Sacrifice

The Archaeology of Religion

Only few archaeological sources give us direct information about the faith and religion of prehistoric cultures. Sacrifices were practised in all eras as offerings to higher powers; however, sanctuaries and holy places have seldom been preserved. The votive offering or depositing of valuable metals, ornamental weapons, precious utensils and food and drink essential for life had many motives: people hoped for divine aid in difficult situations in life – birth and sickness, or conflicts and dangers; the high powers received part of the captured goods or harvest in gratitude for help and protection on journeys, for rich harvests, and successful hunts. The offerings were dropped into lakes or rivers, buried as a hoard, thrown into the fire at burnt offering sites, or deposited on the summits of passes.

Beigaben aus einem Prunkgrab einer hochrangigen Frau, undort: Salzburg-Maxglan, Kleßheimer Allee, Grab 400, Späthallstattzeit, 620–450 v. Chr.
Beigaben aus einem Prunkgrab einer hochrangigen Frau, undort: Salzburg-Maxglan, Kleßheimer Allee, Grab 400, Späthallstattzeit, 620–450 v. Chr.Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Power & Powerlessness

Society – Wealth – Hierarchy

The cultures of the 10,000 years of Salzburg’s prehistory had very different social structures. They were complex and distinct from one another in their community sizes, their economic footing, and their religious ideas. Frequently, land ownership, commercial contacts and access to raw materials led to the evolution of social ranking. The mining of copper, iron ore and salt yielded great wealth, promoting economic and social contacts. Goods from faraway places, valuable weapons and rich jewellery promised high social standing and prestige. Control over trade, land and people led to social imbalance and rivalry: individual groups wielded power over other parts of the population.

Beigaben einer Körperbestattung unter einem Grabhügel aus Grödig, Fundort: Grödig, Grab 1, Mittelbronzezeit, 1500–1300 v. Chr.
Beigaben einer Körperbestattung unter einem Grabhügel aus Grödig, Fundort: Grödig, Grab 1, Mittelbronzezeit, 1500–1300 v. Chr.Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Here & Beyond

A Question of Faith: Grave & Goods

A person’s death is a traumatic event within the community. It affects the thoughts, forms and material expression of social life. Graves are therefore among the most important sources for prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology. They tell us much about the world views and social status of the interred persons and of their bereaved, who were responsible for constructing the graves and accoutring the dead. Grave goods served several purposes. The dead were provided with food, drink and everything needed for the afterlife. At the same time, the splendour of the goods and funerary rites reflected the significance of the deceased and their relatives. Steles or barrows marked the burials, their degree of luxury corresponding to social prestige.

Dugout boat, Fundort: Neumarkt a. W., Wallersee, Früh- bis Mittellatènezeit, 375–150 v. Chr., Nadelholz, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 9981
Dugout boat, Fundort: Neumarkt a. W., Wallersee, Früh- bis Mittellatènezeit, 375–150 v. Chr., Nadelholz, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. ARCH 9981Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Foreign(ness) in Salzburg

Contacts and Communication

Prehistoric people took advantage of the ideal infrastructure provided by the Salzach and its tributaries, and also the Tauern Alpine passes. Important European trade and communication routes ran through the valleys, connecting the Alpine foothills with the Mediterranean region. People, products and ideas roamed along these routes and created a dense network of cultural contacts. Artefacts did not always reach the region through direct trading. They usually arrived in stages, going from hand to hand. They are signs not only of commercial exchange but also of social contacts. Many objects served as gifts of friendship and thanks for hospitality, or sealed political alliances. “Foreign” dress and weapons occasionally testify to the migration of individual persons, or a marriage in a faraway land.

   

  

Salzburg Museum | Keltenmuseum Hallein 

starts 7 November 2014

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