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.

Interdisciplinary cooperations in the framework of Project

Universität Wien


Universität für Bodenkultur Wien

VERA (Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator)

Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Universität Innsbruck

Universität Würzburg

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Universität Bayreuth

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen

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)

Completed Projects

  • Räumliche Organisation und Funktion gravettienzeitlicher Freilandstationen: Feuerstelle, Behausung und Bestattung am Beispiel der Fundstelle Krems-Wachtberg (Niederöstereich) ( P 21660; 1.7.2009 – 31.12.2013)

  • Untersuchungen zur Sozialstruktur gravettienzeitlicher Jäger und Sammler anhand der neuen Siedlungs- und Bestattungsfunde am Wachtberg in Krems ( P 19347; 31.3.2007 – 31.12.2009)

  • Gravettienzeitliche Besiedlungsmuster an der forschungsgeschichtlich bedeutenden Position Krems-Wachtberg, Niederösterreich ( P 17258; 24.11.2004 – 31.3.2007)

  • Paläolithische Industriekreise vor dem letzten Eishöchststand zwischen 32.000 und 20.000 BP unter archäologischen und paläoökologischen Aspekten ( P 13780; 1.1.2000 – 31.12.2003)
    Leitung: Univ-Prof. Dr. H. Friesinger
    Wiss. Bearbeitung: Dr. Christine Neugebauer-Maresch
    Publikation: Ch. Neugebauer-Maresch (Hrsg.), Krems-Hundssteig – Mammutjägerlager der Eiszeit. Ein Nutzungsareal paläolithischer Jäger- und Sammler(innen) vor 41.000-27.000 Jahren, Mitteilungen der Prähistorischen Kommission 67, Wien 2008. Info/Bestellung