Systematic core sampling conducted since 2000 on the loess-covered Wachtberg promontory at Krems provided evidence for the extensive presence of a distinct archaeological horizon dating to 31,000 calBP in close proximity to a Gravettian site with settlement structures known since 1930 when it was discovered by Josef Bayer. The subsequent excavations, started in 2005, provided sensational results: an infant double grave (Burial 1) and a single grave of another baby (Burial 2), a multi-phased fireplace and very rich remains of Palaeolithic camp life.
The newborns in the double grave were buried in an oval pit in crouched positions, sprinkled with red ochre and covered by a mammoth shoulder blade. An ivory bead necklace as a grave good and the elaborate grave construction testify to the importance of the infants to the hunter-gatherer society.
Another burial, the single grave of an approximately three-months-old infant, was found approximately 1.5 m from the double grave. An ivory pin presumably functioned as a closure for a leather or fur wrap for the body. Like in the double burial, the body was placed in crouched position, sprinkled with ochre and oriented towards the east, viewing the rising sun.
The open-air site Krems-Wachtberg represents a very rich Upper Palaeolithic campsite, which, due to its extensive loess stratigraphy, additionally offers excellent chronostratigraphic potential for a climatic reconstruction of the late Upper Pleistocene in the Middle Danube region. With financial support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Federal Province of Lower Austria, the Austrian Academy of Sciences has been carrying out excavations and complementary field investigations at this site between 2005 and 2015.
The results allow first insights into the spatial organisation of the campsite. The two burials are located next to an activity zone around a repeatedly used fireplace with adjacent cooking pits. The peripheral find areas, investigated since 2008, allow deeper insights into the syn- and postsedimentary deposition processes together with the underlying slope processes and periglacial phenomena.
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
VERA (Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator)
Naturhistorisches Museum Wien
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Masaryk University Brno
Tschechische Akademie der Wissenschaften Brno
Royal Holloway University of London
McMaster University Ontario, Kanada
The University of Texas at Austin (UTA)
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)