(Austrian Academy of Sciences, OREA, Department Europe, Austria)
Keywords: Bronze Age, Věteřov Culture, graveyard, head deposit
Today Neumarkt an der Ybbs is a little town in Upper Austria. 3500 years ago it was a settlement area of a group we now call the “Věteřov Culture”. We know a lot of settlements on hill tops and in flat country, but only a few graveyards of this culture. In 1997 and 2000 a burial ground was excavated by the Bundesdenkmalamt (F. Sauer) in advance of gravel mining. 92 bodies were found. They are buried in the fashion traditional in the early Bronze Age in Lower Austria south of the Danube: the burials are in a crouched position, the women’s’ heads lie in the south, those of the men in the north, both look towards the eastern sun. I am presently analysing this graveyard and preparing it for publication.
The architecture of the necropolis will be paid special attention, alongside the usual analysis of the features, attire, grave goods and skeletons. The graveyard is divided into eastern and northern sections by a broad central area. In the northwest there is an area where extraterritorial guests were buried, evident because of their attire and the skeletons’ characteristics. To the west there was a house, probably a part of the Bronze Age graveyard. I will emphasize an exposed area in the northeast, which is unique in this period in Lower Austria: in the centre is the head of a 40 year old man. This head deposit is bounded by two richly decorated women, all three burials are arranged along a southwest-northeast axis. Evidently this is a funeral assemblage of exceptional significance. We (the anthropologist K. Grossschmidt and I) are now searching for the remains of this man, who’s head was cut off 1500 B.C. (3150 ± 30 BP = 1490 – 1470 cal. BC) and who was treated it in such a special way.