The Bisamberg pilot project aims to document traces of settlement as well as antiquarian archaeological excavations on Vienna’s famous local mountain by means of geophysical prospection, and to assign the prehistoric finds to the individual sites.
The Bisamberg Hill, on the north side of the River Danube with an altitude of 358 m, is the northeastern most summit of the foothills of the Central Alps and marks the Wiener Pforte Gap, through which the Danube breaks into the Vienna basin. It extends over the municipalities of Bisamberg, Langenzersdorf and Hagenbrunn in the Korneuburg district as well as over Stammersdorf and Strebersdorf in the Vienna municipal area.
Traces of prehistoric settlement on and around the Bisamberg are documented from the Mesolithic period (c. 8000 BC). The hill gave its name to the Neolithic Bisamberg-Oberpullendorf Group, and remains significant as one of the few known Middle Bronze Age hilltop settlements. Late Bronze Age, Early and Late Iron Age finds came to light in various places during construction work.
Due to its distinct topographical location, the Bisamberg was repeatedly integrated in military strategies for the protection of Vienna. Some of the elements of the fortification ring around Vienna in connection with the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 were built on the Bisamberg. Military structures such as entrenchments, trenches, positions and bomb craters emerged well into World War II and are still visible in the ground today.
Archaeological activities on the Bisamberg began with Matthäus Much, who described the ramparts around the Elisabethhöhe with its prehistoric settlement remains as early as 1874. Antiquarian field research yielded finds, but their find spots were inadequately documented, so that today it is no longer clear where excavations had taken place.
The aim of the pilot project at Bisamberg is to link the prehistoric settlement activity known only from antiquarian traditions and collections with a modern recording of the existing landmarks. Geophysical prospection enables a distinction between prehistoric settlement traces and later military interventions, as well as a documentation of the state of preservation of this important archaeological complex at the interface between Vienna and Lower Austria.