The Linear Pottery culture (LPC) settlement of Schletz, Lower Austria (5400-5000 BC), which was fortified with a double oval and an adjoining trapezoidal ditch, was partially excavated between 1983 and 2005. The site attracted international attention primarily because of the human remains recovered from ditch II: Their atypical location (the dead were not buried), injuries and perimortem changes (e.g., animal gnawing) suggest a violent attack on the settlement around 5000 BC. Since more recent LPC settlement traces are lacking, the settlement may have been abandoned after this event. First results of a molecular genetic analysis seem to indicate an unexpectedly small number of kinships. Therefore, the question arises as to the origin of the dead: They had died together, but had they also lived together? To elucidate on their possible region(s) of origin, the Sr isotope ratio (87Sr/86Sr) will be assessed in tooth enamel and dentine and compared to the isotope landscape (isoscape) of the local bioavailable Sr signatures of the surrounding area. Based on its extent, its spectrum of finds, its duration of occupation and its earthworks, Schletz can be addressed as a central site, which must have been surrounded by a cluster of smaller settlements. However, this cluster is completely unexplored. The project aims to look beyond the site of Schletz. We assume that knowledge of the surrounding settlements, their structure and development, is crucial for understanding the social development that led to the violent events on the central site, especially since the final massacre was probably only the end point of a longer development. Together with archaeologists, citizen scientists will survey individual sites known from find reports or suspected because of landscape features. They will recover and document the finds. Local middle school students will extract and process soil samples from the area of the LPC sites to create an isoscape mapping of Sr isotope ratios. This procedure is a prerequisite for determining the origin of the individuals recovered from the Schletz settlement, which, according to our hypothesis, could include a high proportion of non-local inhabitants from the settlement cluster or regions beyond. We expect to be able to estimate the extent of the violent conflict and its effects – which may not have been limited to Schletz alone; we also expect to increase knowledge on the economic and social structure of an early Neolithic society based on a broad data base.


Duration 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2025
Funding Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)

Department for Arts and Cultural Studies

Center for Museum Collections Management

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Mag. Jakob Maurer


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