"CONTINUITY AND CHANGE - RURAL SETTLEMENT STRUCTURES ALONG THE UPPER DRAVA RIVER FROM THE IRON AGE TO LATE ANTIQUITY"


Project Management: C. Gugl

In archaeology, the structure and formation of rural areas situated away from urban centers have long been ignored in favour of studying more central locations. Particularly in regions characterized by extreme topography, particular forms of settlement developed, which were suited to these regional conditions. The project "Continuity and Change" employs modern methods of settlement and landscape archaeology to investigate small rural settlements and how their placement is integrated in specific topographical contexts.  

In cooperation with the University of Innsbruck’s Institute of Archaeologies, the research area focusses on the upper Drava valley, the most important west-east route in the south-eastern Alps. In this area, several smaller settlements are examined diachronically from the Iron Age to Late Antiquity.

For the moment, the focus is on a hilltop settlement near Irschen (close to Oberdrauburg in Upper Carinthia), where excavations on the so-called Burgbichl have taken place since 2016. Remains of an early Christian church have been uncovered, as well as parts of the late antique fortification wall. A decisive factor for the settlement of the Irschen-Oberdrauburg area has always been its (strategic) location at the intersection of the Drava valley route and a north-south route leading to Italy. The transformation of the settlement and its underlying socio-economic environment from the late Iron Age to the 6th -7th century AD will be examined.

Fig. 1: The wooded Burgbichl hill near Irschen, as seen from the north (© Grabherr / Univ. of Innsbruck)