This interdisciplinary study deals with the pigments from the burials and settlement layers of the Gravettian site Krems-Wachtberg. The focus is on pigment analysis, investigations into the origin of the colour raw materials as well as conclusions about the preparation and use of the various pigments.

The red ochre graves of the Gravettian, which include the site Krems-Wachtberg, are not only a striking series of Palaeolithic burials, but represent a uniform burial practice of Homo sapiens in Europe. Large quantities of colour pigments at the site Krems-Wachtberg were also found in contemporary settlement layers, which could be related to the painted or colour-covered objects of ivory and bone discovered there. These are the oldest evidence of intentional application of paint in the Gravettian of Central Europe.



In the context of the project, mineral pigments were sampled from both the burials and the settlement layers for analyses. The aim is to clarify which colour pigments were used, whether or not pigments found in the graves correspond to those used in the settlement areas, how the materials were processed, and if the raw materials can be traced to distinct natural deposits. The analyses are complemented by investigating pigment traces from selected artefacts, e.g. art objects.

Principal investigator

Ulrich Simon


  • Vera M. F. Hammer (NHM Wien, Mineralogisch-Petrographische Abteilung)
  • Walpurga Antl-Weiser (NHM Wien, Prähistorische Abteilung)
  • Michael Götzinger (Universität Wien, Institut für Mineralogie und Kristallographie)
  • Franz Ottner (Universität für Bodenkultur, Institut für Angewandte Geologie)
  • Gerhard Trnka (Universität Wien, Institut für Urgeschichte und Historische Archäologie)
  • Manfred Schreiner, Federica Cappa (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, Institut für Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst)


seit 2010


  • ÖAW
  • extern