About 31 000 years ago, a group of hunter-gatherers had settled down at what is now the city of Krems, Austria. Covered under a meter-thick layer of loess, a well-developed Gravettian living floor with distinct features and finds was recorded in 2005. The inventory includes artefacts, animal bones, art objects, and personal adornments. It is, however, two infant burials that made the site internationally recognised. One burial (burial 2) yielded an infant that had lived for about three months. The other (burial 1) included remains of the oldest dated genetically determined identical twins. One of the boys (individual 2) had died shortly before, during or after birth, the other (individual 1) had lived for 6-7 weeks. Adorned with a chain of ivory beads, or perforated animal teeth, respectively, and covered in red ochre, the neonates were protected by a mammoth scapula. After an initial recovery as a block in 2005, the burial was stored in a climate-controlled storage facility at the Department of Anthropology at the Natural History Museum Vienna. In 2015, the human remains were excavated from the block under lab conditions. A high-precision structured light scanning system was used to document each step of the excavation in 3D to achieve the best possible requirements for an intended virtual 3D reconstruction of the grave. In a recent pilot study, elements of the left hand and the cranium of individual 2 were µCT scanned and virtually cleaned from the remaining sediment. To test the feasibility to compile a virtual reconstruction, the find situation of the hand and the cranium was recreated using the surface scans made during the lab excavation and the anatomical shape of the cranium was reconstructed. A prototype of a data base was set up to organise and archive the data from both the excavation and the scanning campaigns. The objectives of the present study are to µCT scan the complete skeletons of individual 1 and 2 and to segment the volumetric data. The digitisation will allow insights into the find complex and its minuscule elements and will contribute to reduce excessive handling of the fragile human remains for study reasons. Via surface registration the find situation of the infants can be virtually reconstructed, which will enable us to recreate the activities in the context of the burial and post-sedimentary formation processes through time. The produced data will be entered into the data base that will be made available to the scientific community. Interested citizens will have access to the results of this fundamental research via a webpage and innovative museum presentations, which will allow an inclusive access and participatory share of Lower Austria’s earliest cultural heritage.


Duration 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2026
Funding Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)

Department for Arts and Cultural Studies

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anja Grebe


Norm und Sprache - Zum spätmittelalterlichen Kunstdiskurs in Deutschland

19. Symposium des Mediävistenverbands Deutschland, 08/03/2023

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