Kerstin KOWARIK1 / Hans RESCHREITER1 / Gabriel WURZER2 / Ralf TOTSCHNIG1 / Andreas RAUSCH1

(1Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Prähistorische Abteilung / 2Technische Universität Wien, Institut für Architekturwissenschaften, Österreich)

During a time of approximately 250 years (15th to 13th century B.C.), salt mining in the Salzbergtal of Hallstatt (Upper Austria) was conducted on an industrial scale. Recent research let to the assumption of three huge shafts (depths up to 170 m) that operated in parallel. It is estimated that the mine was a large enterprise, organized in an efficient and industrial manner. A large body of evidence underpins this theory, however, these form only qualitative arguments (e.g. the large degree of standardization of the discovered tools).

By using a simulation of the reconstructed work process in the mining halls, we are one step closer to answering also quantitative questions such as the relation between the assumed time the mine has been in operation, manpower needed and total volume of salt gained.

The realisation of this task required a precise formulation of archeological assumptions (high degree of organization and efficiency, work process etc.) and plausibility criteria (e.g. minimum and maximum covered mining area). Using an agent-based simulation, these assumptions were made executable. The simulation was conducted for a time span of 250 years, using a set of additional parameters to control for example the amount of digging persons in the mine. An online visualization of the simulation further helped us in interactive exploration and experimentation with the model.

In addition to the enhancement of our data basis regarding the industrial history of the Hallstatt salt mine, we see a big goal of this trans-disciplinary approach in bringing the potential of agent-based simulation to archeology, especially when it comes to answering archeo-economical and quantitative questions. We feel that, by using this method, new methodical impulses will be attainable for a wider field of archeologists.

Keywords: Salt Mine, Bronze Age, Industrial Archeology, Agent-Based Simulation