24.6.2020, 17:30 Uhr

From Field to Plate
Animal Bones at Early Bronze Age Çukuriçi Höyük, Turkey

Stephanie Emra (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)


This short lecture gives a case study from the Early Bronze Age site of Çukuriçi Höyük, in western Anatolia, to discuss the interpretative use of animal bones in prehistory. Çukuriçi Höyük is a tell site first settled in the Early Neolithic. Occupation then continues into the Late Neolithic, and, after a hiatus, is again settled in the late Chalcolithic and later abandoned after the Early Bronze Age I (2,900–2,750 calBC). The excavations in the EBA I settlement revealed early and abundant metal production activities across the excavated site.

In particular this lecture focuses on an unusual assemblage of bones found within Room 53 on the site. This concentration of bones is mainly made up of sheep and goat bones from young individuals, and were found in an undisturbed, well-preserved, and often articulated state. How this assemblage should be interpreted in terms of the nature of the deposition and the wider implications for settlement is then considered. The role of sheep and goat both economically and socially is then explored looking at herd-management strategies, culturally contingent food preferences and butchery and cooking practices.

17.6.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»Do pelvic features relate to childbirth?
Evidence from a geometric morphometric study of pelvic shape«

Lukas Waltenberger (ÖAI)


Pelvic features, or parturition scars, have been extensively studied in the last decades and are frequently investigated in archaeological and forensic contexts. It is still unclear, however, whether they really relate to pregnancy and birth, or whether these features are caused by other biomechanical factors. Because the length and difficulty of labor correlates with the form of the birth canal, we studied the association between the expression of pelvic features and pelvic shape using geometric morphometrics.

The expression of the preauricular sulcus, margo sacralis groove, preauricular extensions, dorsal and ventral pubic pitting have been scored for 19 individuals from the Bronze Age cemetery of Hainburg, Austria and 54 individuals from a 19th century collection anatomical collection with background information about the deceased. Based on photogrammetric surface models, pelvic shape was captured by 331 landmarks placed on every important anatomical structure. Furthermore, semilandmarks were placed along curves on the pelvis to describe differences of curved structures of the pelvis and the birth canal. The data were evaluated using multivariate statistical methods such as principal component analysis and partial least squares analysis to detect patterns of pelvic shapes related to different expressions of parturition scars.

10.6.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»The Northeastern Settlement at the Ada Tepe Goldmine«

Laura Burkhardt (ÖAI)


The spectacular discovery of the so far only known gold mine in European prehistory at Ada Tepe in the Eastern Rhodopes led to long-term rescue excavations by Assoc. Prof. H. Popov and his team from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NIAM-BAS). Besides mines, waste heaps, mining areas and workplaces, two settlements were discovered dating to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. In order to investigate this extensive set of data in an interdisciplinary way, an international cooperation between the Bulgarian and Austrian Academy of Sciences was established within the framework of the project Bronze Age Gold Road of the Balkans – Ada Tepe Mining (led by Prof. B. Horejs, Austrian Academy of Science, Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, founded by the FWF, project no. P28451). The presentation summarizes the doctoral thesis by Laura Burkhardt, which was embedded in the project and whose main aim was to record and analyse the findings from the settlement on the north-eastern terrace dating to the Late Bronze Age.

Beginning on a small regional level, the results of the spatial and functional analysis of the Northeastern Settlement are outlined, where activity zones and functional clusters within the settlement provide insights into strategies and practices of the everyday life of the miners. Combined with detailed contextual analyses of architecture, stratigraphy and find ensembles this provides conclusions about the organisation of the gold-mining society on the Ada Tepe and the socio-cultural context.

Subsequently, these results will be integrated into a wider regional and cultural-historical context in order to identify the role of gold miners, as specialists in their field, on a local as well as on a supra-regional level. Comparing material culture, pottery and everyday practices with surrounding regions, conclusions can be drawn about the socio-economic implications of the Ada Tepe gold mine in the Late Bronze Age setting of the Southeast Balkans.

3.6.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»New Kingdom Intrusive Burials at Saqqara
Cultural Complexity in Material and Practice«

Natasha D. Ayers (ÖAI)


While excavating the large Early Dynastic mastaba tombs at Saqqara, Egypt in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Walter B. Emery uncovered a number of intrusive New Kingdom burials with a complex combination of material culture and burial practices traditionally interpreted as signifiers of distinct cultural groups. Modes of burial documented by excavation records and photographs show some persons buried in coffins and others, more surprisingly, on so-called “Nubian style” wooden beds.

So far, only one of the Saqqara burials has received much attention from scholars, due to that assemblage containing a rare faience rhyton of Minoan shape, a Cypriot Base Ring I jug, Egyptian pottery, and Nubian or “Nubian style” pottery. The scholarly disagreement over the date of this burial, as well as the overly simplistic cultural historical description of many of these burials as Nubian soldiers by Emery, demonstrates a fresh appraisal of the Saqqara intrusive burials with a material culture theory perspective is overdue.

A larger aim of this project is to elucidate the socio-cultural sphere and possible processes that resulted in the complexity in material expression and practice documented at Saqqara, without imposing a rigid paradigm or label to this community and their active burial choices. This lecture will present preliminary observations on several specific burials, in addition to the character of the intrusive burials as a group, based on original excavation documentation used in combination with recent study (2019–2020) of the objects now held in U.K. museums.

27.5.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»Investigating contact spaces in the Middle Nile (Sudan)
The Munich University Attab to Ferka Survey Project 2018–2020«

Julia Budka (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)


Since 2018, the Munich University Attab to Ferka Survey Project (MUAFS) investigates a stretch along the Nile including various islands between Attab and Ferka in northern Sudan. This area comprises a rich variety of archaeological sites from Palaeolithic times until the Islamic age which have never been studied in detail. The region is primary a geological boundary zone being located next to a cataract region, and secondly a frontier in terms of cultures. The major goal of the MUAFS project is to evaluate the specific living conditions throughout the ages and to reconstruct biographies of landscapes in this ‘contact space’ shaped by encounters of various cultural groups. The lecture presents the most important results of two fieldwork seasons between 2018 and 2020 with a focus on Bronze Age sites.

6.5.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»Dental Abrasion in Children
Dental wear analysis for childhood paleodietary reconstruction«

Marlon Bas (ÖAI)


Teeth are composed of the hardest tissue in the human body; it is therefore not surprising that they are well preserved in the archaeological record. For over a century, dental anthropologists have endeavored to extract as much information as possible from these tiny biological time capsules. One area of interest is the analysis of tooth wear for age determination and paleodietary reconstruction. Dental wear analysis can be both microscopic (microwear) or macroscopic (macrowear or gross dental wear). It has long been established that the rate and pattern of macrowear and the microscopic texture of the enamel surface are influenced by diet, food preparation, and the environment.

Like most mammals, humans generally begin life on a diet of milk. As their dental system develops, solid foods are introduced gradually into the diet until the child is weaned. The timing of this process is dependent on the availability of suitable soft foods with implications for fertility and childhood mortality. Further variability in diet can occur as a result of social status and a gender-b(i)ased treatment of children. Dental wear analysis is a promising approach for investigating these aspects of diet during childhood as it directly relates to the physical properties of foods.

Here we discuss how modern methods dental wear analysis, such as DMTA SSFA can best be used to investigate dietary transitions during childhood in the past.

22.4.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»Making Stones Talk
The innovative Multi Layered Chert Sourcing Approach«

Michael Brandl (ÖAI)


Chipped stone tools are amongst the most ubiquitous finds at prehistoric archaeological sites. Therefore, they are best suitable for understanding economic behavior in the past, which involves the procurement, use and distribution of lithic raw materials such as chert and flint (silicites). The results of such studies have far reaching implications, with the potential to reveal circulation networks, intercultural exchange and routes of migration. Successfully reconstructing these processes however crucially depends on the ability to trace these materials back to their original sources.

Despite the obvious importance of chert and flint provenance studies in archaeology, attempts to generate characteristic “fingerprints” of particular silicite raw materials were in most cases unsatisfying. This is mainly due to the oftentimes high similarities of such materials related to similar geological formations, and relying on a limited number of analytical techniques. To remedy this situation, an innovative multi-scalar analytical technique was implemented and successfully applied in various international case studies: The Multi Layered Chert Sourcing Approach (MLA) combines visual grouping, stereo-microscopic analyses and geochemical trace element analyses using LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry).

Here we demonstrate how the MLA achieves a clear assignment of lithic artefacts to identified geological sources, and the future potential of this method for studying resource management of prehistoric societies.

15.4.2020, 17:30 Uhr

»Kalba – Ein frühbronzezeitlicher Handelsstützpunkt am Golf von Oman?
Ergebnisse der Feldforschungen 2020«

Christoph Schwall (ÖAI)


Erstmals können im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr., während der Frühbronzezeit, ausgedehnte Handelsnetzwerke belegt werden, die von der Ägäis bis zur Indusregion reichen. Insbesondere die Arabische Halbinsel bietet aufgrund ihrer geostrategischen Lage optimale Bedingungen für Knotenpunkte dieser frühen Netzwerke und fungierte wahrscheinlich als Vermittler zwischen West und Ost.

Die Feldforschungen in Kalba am Golf von Oman (VAE, Emirat Schardscha) belegen eine regelmäßige Besiedlung des Fundortes von der frühen Bronzezeit bis zur Eisenzeit (ca. 2500–600 v. Chr.). Daher eignet sich besonders Kalba zur Erforschung und Bewertung von frühen Handelsnetzwerken auf der südöstlichen Arabischen Halbinsel.

Die Ausgrabungen der frühbronzezeitlichen Besiedlung haben eine monumentale Turmkonstruktion freigelegt, die sicherlich als Landmarke an der Küste von weit her zu sehen war. Abgesehen von der Architektur legt auch importierte Keramik aus Mesopotamien, dem Iran und dem Indusgebiet eine überregionale Bedeutung der Siedlung nahe. Zudem lassen Rohstoffe wie Kupfer und Silex vermuten, dass Kalba ein Handelsstützpunkt war, der als Bindeglied der Netzwerke zwischen Routen über See und ins Landesinnere der Arabischen Halbinsel gedient hat.