South Connection

Spreading of the Urnfield phenomena and mobility in the Bronze Age


Cup Baiderdorf-Velatice type from Kalnik-Igrišće (after Karavanić 1994)

The appearance and dynamic spreading of the Urnfield culture at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (13th–12th century BC) is one of the decisive developments in the prehistory of European continent that included radical change of the burial praxis, local and regional mobility and significant changes in the material culture and socio-economic relationships. This project targets to explore specific interregional connections between the regions of Lower Austria and Northern Croatia during the older stage of the Urnfield culture with a special emphasis on chronology, burial customs and changes in the material culture.

The project members will analyze a number of important new finds from both regions and compare objects related to the so-called Baierdorf-Velatice cultural complex. The objective is to understand the spreading of certain characteristic archeological features and to elucidate, if the distribution of the artifacts signalizes the mobility of the people or transfer of knowledge and technologies.

In order to assess different and mutual cultural influences it is first essential to comprehend the chronology both on regional and supra-regional scale. The focus of the bilateral project will be therefore on the comparison of the advanced typological sequence of the material culture in Lower Austria and Croatia and on the correlation with absolute dates. For this purpose, the team members will use their expertise and jointly select samples for the radiocarbon dating from the most significant and characteristic archeological finds. Moreover, after establishing of the chronological frame, it will be possible to investigate more closely regional networks within the Baierdorf-Velatice cultural complex and to detect catalyzers of the cultural changes.

Ongoing work

In March 2018 (24th–29th) the Austrian and Croatian team members visited the museums in Zagreb, Križevci and Slatina with collections of the finds assigned to the Baierdorf-Velatice cultural complex (Zagreb, Križevci and Slatina). The goal was to discuss and compare detailed typological and chronological sequence of pottery shapes and decorations related to early phase of the Urnfield culture. Thanks to the cooperation of the involved museums, the team members were able to study and examine the finds from sites Zagreb-Vrapče (Archaeological Museum Zagreb), Kalnik-Igrišće (City Museum Križevci) and Veliko Polje (Museum Slatina).  

© Ludwig Streinz

In Mai 2018 (14th–19th) the Croatian project partners, Dr. Snježana Karavanić and Dr. Daria Ložnjak Dizdar, visited Austria and OREA Institute. The aim was to inspect and discuss relevant finds of the Urnfield Culture hosted in museums of Lower Austria. The team members first stop at Asparn (MAMUZ), then went to Eggenburg (Krahuletz Museum) and Horn (Höbarth- and Madermusuem), followed by Nußdorf ob der Traisen (Urzeitmuseum) and finally Stillfired an der March (Zentrum der Urzeit). Thanks to free access to the museum depots, some of the crucial finds of the Baierdorf-Velatice stage, including objects from urn graveyards in Baierdorf and Horn, were revisited and studied. In the frame of the cooperation, project members also developed an outline of the joint actions for the next months that will involve an arhaeometallurgical analysis of some distinctive bronze types, both from Croatia and Lower Austria.

© Ludwig Streinz