In the discipline of archaeology, the examination of the structure and development of rural spaces beyond the urban centres has been long neglected in favour of the investigation of central sites. Precisely in regions that are characterised by extreme physiographic circumstances, particular settlement forms emerged that were adapted to these regional conditions. Within the framework of the project »Continuity and Change« these small rural settlements and their embeddedness in the specific topographic context will be pursued using modern methods of settlement and landscape archaeology.
The research area is concentrated on the upper Drau valley, the most important west-east axis in the southern Alpine region; here, numerous smaller settlement cells are comparatively investigated diachronically from the Iron Age until Late Antiquity, in cooperation with the Institute for Archaeology of the University of Innsbruck:
The focal point lies initially on a hilltop settlement near Irschen in the Upper Drau valley, where excavations have been carried out on the so-called Burgbichl since 2016. In the process, remains of an early Christian church as well as parts of the fortification wall of this Late Antique settlement could be brought to light. A decisive location factor for the settlement of the small-scale region of Irschen-Oberdrauburg has always been the position at the intersection of the Drau valley route and the north-south conjunction with a connection in the direction of Italy.
For the first time in the eastern Alpine region, with the excavations at Klosterfrauenbichl in Lienz, a cult site that was continually in use from the late Latène period until the Roman imperial period could be investigated; not only numerous cult and dedication objects (weapons and other iron finds, fibulae, coins, figural lead and bronze votives etc.) but also significant architectural structures are present here. The question concerning the tribal sanctuary of the Celtic Laianci, who can be located in the Lienz basin in the late Iron Age, is also connected with this site.
The Roman site near Mühldorf, from which a large bath building with high-quality furnishings was already known, is representative for the settlement of the Alpine valley landscape during the Roman imperial period. Located at the egress of the Möll valley, this site is predestined for the posing of questions dealing with the economic background (mining?), as well as with usage of landscape and resources in the first centuries A.D.