The Danube represents one of the central cultural regions of Europe, whose importance for human history on our continent is comparable to the role of other major river systems of the world (Amazon, Nile, Euphrates, Ganges, etc.). The Danube and its tributaries form a complex ecological system, offering diverse conditions and bases for social, economic and cultural developments in past societies. Accordingly, the Danube region functioned both as a communication corridor and as a border zone between different cultures and societies. Decisive sociocultural developments have shaped the European continent starting from the Danube region, whereby fundamental innovations and technologies were often communicated, transformed and adapted through it. These dynamic processes and the associated changes over the millennia form the conceptual framework for the transfer research focus »The Danube as a European cultural area«.
Already established archaeological projects in Austria and the neighbouring Danube countries form the basis for future enhanced interconnected scientific cooperation between the departments of the OEAI. These include the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer societies in Lower Austria and especially the Danube terraces near Krems, the climate and natural space research in the Pleistocene landscapes nearby, the Bronze Age research in the Traisental, the processing of the Urnfield culture cemeteries and the central place of Stillfried in Lower Austria, the research on the Neolithic in the Western Balkans (Great Morava-Danube Route), raw material research on the middle and lower Danube, the Roman Limes and its settlement structure, material culture (militaria, numismatics, epigraphy) and cultural-historical phenomena (religious history, demography, urbanistic processes). The diverse developments in the Danube region in historical epochs are among the traditional research focal points of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the interconnection with prehistoric projects allows to expect new results in Danubian research. The transfer research thus enables both a broader chronological perspective on cultural developments as well as new interdisciplinary research in Austria and the Danube countries.