The Late Urnfield Culture cemetery of Franzhausen-Kokoron, Lower Austria


In 1981, during road building activities for the Kremser Schnellstraße S33, cremation graves were discovered in Franzhausen-Kokoron (Nußdorf ob der Traisen, district St. Pölten, Lower Austria). Rescue excavations started immediately afterwards and were carried out by the Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments, Department of Archaeology (under the direction of Dr. J.-W. Neugebauer). In the following years, nearly the whole cemetery area was excavated. The last 17 cremation graves were unearthed in 1991.

A total of 403 graves of the younger Urnfield culture were found in an area of about 12,000 m². Prior to excavation, construction works and farming had destroyed some of the shallow cremation graves. It is therefore assumed that the cemetery originally may have consisted of around 500 graves.
The cremation graves of Franzhausen-Kokoron are divided into an older eastern and a younger western group. The cemetery was used from the end of the older period of the Middle-Danubian Urnfield Culture to the beginning of the transition to the Hallstatt Culture. The older part of the cemetery was less densely used for burial than the younger one.

The cremated human remains had been deposited in urns. The grave pits were round or square measuring 0.4–1 m in diameter or length. Mainly in the older part of the cemetery, square ditches – so-called ‘grave gardens’ were discovered sporadically. In the younger western part of the cemetery, only one small square ditch was identified. In the area of the older graves, some sunken features with deposits of burnt stone were found which did not have any traces of burnt bone. In the younger part of the cemetery, a layer of ash and charcoal was spread over an irregular area of 3.0 × 2.5 m. The layer may be what is left from a central cremation place.

The graves do not show any signs of post-depositional disturbances other than damage through recent agricultural activities. Hence, a remarkably high number of dateable Bronze objects were found in the graves: this is demonstrated impressively by 32 bronze knives alone. Bronze objects were found partially intact or deformed by fire. There was a great variety of decorative pins (e.g. vase-headed pins), fibulas (e.g. harp fibulas, one-piece bow fibulas and spectacle fibulas), bracelets and neck rings, razors (e.g. crescent-shaped razor with a ring handle) and knives (e.g. hilt tang knives Wien-Leopoldsberg type and Baumgarten type, metal-hilted knives). Outstanding finds include a golden band ring, a bronze cup of the Kirkendrup type, a simple bronze bowl with fine incised decoration and bronze metal fittings of wooden vessels. In a few instances iron knives were deposited in the graves. Altogether 529 metal objects have been recorded.

The graves also contained numerous ceramic vessels, which contained cremated human remains or food offerings for the afterworld; these may be preserved as un-burnt (rarely burnt) animal bones.

Open access


The extensive analysis and interpretation of the 403 cremation graves with approximately 1600 individual objects includes a catalogue and photographic material (overview plan, photographs and drawings of finds and contexts), which is available as digital, interactive open-access publication via the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press.
In 2016 the data (plates of characteristic types, results of the physical anthropological assessment) were updated and supplemented and the graphical user interface re-launched in collaboration with the ÖAW publishing house ( http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/franzhausen-kokoron2/).

Publications

Publications

  • M. Lochner, I. Hellerschmid, Dokumentation Franzhausen-Kokoron: Ein Gräberfeld der jüngeren Urnenfelderkultur aus Zentraleuropa. Erweiterte interaktive Datenbank mit Illustrationen und Fundbeschreibungen. Version 03/epub, Wien 2016. DOI: 10.1553/KatalogUFK
  • S. Renhart, Zur Anthropologie des urnenfelderzeitlichen Gräberfeldes von Franzhausen-Kokoron, Version 03/epub, Wien 2016, © by OREA/ÖAW 2016. DOI: 10.1553/KatalogUFK
  • M. Lochner, Bestattungssitten auf Gräberfeldern der mitteldonauländischen Urnenfelderkultur. In: M. Lochner, F. Ruppenstein (Hrsg.), Brandbestattungen von der mittleren Donau bis zur Ägäis zwischen 1300 und 750 v. Chr. Cremation Burials in the Region between the Middle Danube and the Aegean, 1300–750 BC. Symposium Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 11–12 Februar 2010. Mitteilungen der Prähistorischen Kommission 77, Veröffentlichungen der Mykenischen Kommission 32, 2013, 11–31.
  • M. Lochner, I. Hellerschmid, Sozialstrukturen im Gräberfeld Franzhausen-Kokoron, Niederösterreich. Eine Analyse anhand der Urnengrößen, Archaeologia Austriaca 93, 2009, 23–32.