The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Hallstatt culture

Hallstatt is a village in the Austrian Salzkammergut where a large prehistoric cemetery of 1045 graves was excavated by Ramsauer in the second half of the 19th century. The community at Hallstatt exploited the salt mines from the 8th to 5th century BC. The style and decoration of the grave goods found in the cemetery is very distinctive and artifacts made in this style are widespread in Europe. The culture is called Hallstatt after the first site discovered. An eastern zone including Croatia, Slovenia, western Hungary, Austria, Moravia, and Slovakia can be distiguished from the western cultural zone which includes northern Italy, Switzerland, eastern France, southern Germany, and Bohemia. Archaeologists have recognized differences in the Hallstatt style which appear to develop with time. Chronologically, the earlier Hallstatt C period, characterised by bronze and Iron swords is followed by the Hallstatt D period, where only daggers are found in graves. There are differences in pottery and the brooches as well.

Exchange systems or folk movements (probably both) spread the Hallstatt cultural complex into the western half of the Iberian peninsula, Great Britain, and Ireland. It is probable that some if not all of this diffusion took place in a Celtic-speaking context. Trade with Greece is attested by finds of attic black-figured pottery on the majour graves of the late Hallstatt period. It was probably imported via Massilia (Marseille). Other imported luxuries include ivory (Gräfenbühl ) and probably wine. Recent analyses have shown that the reputed silk in the barrow at Hohmichele was misidentified. Red dye (cochineal) was imported from the South as well (Hochdorf burial).

In the central Hallstatt regions and towards the end of the period, very rich graves of high-status individuals under large tumuli are found in association with fortified hilltop settlements. They often contain chariots and horse bits or yokes. Well known chariot burials include Bycí Skalá , Vix and Hochdorf . A model of a chariot made from lead has been found in Frögg , Carinthia

The defended sites frequently include the workshops of bronze, silver, and gold smiths. Typical sites are the Heuneburg on the upper Danube surrounded by nine very large grave tumuli, Mont Lassois in eastern France near Chatillon-sur-Seine with, at its foot, the very rich grave at Vix , and the hill fort at Molpir in the Czech Republic.

Artwork includes elaborate jewellery made of bronze and gold, and stone-stelae, like the famous warrior of Hirschlanden


  • Vierrädrige Wagen der Hallstattzeit. RGZM Mainz, 1987.

Last updated: 08-16-2005 14:00:12