Experimental archaeology

One special feature of MAMUZ is its focus on experimental archaeology. Knowledge of the theoretical and practical foundations of experimental archaeology help the archaeologist critically examine research findings, which often originate only on the writing desk, to check they are correct. The inclusion of interdisciplinary research methods and also scientific analysis methods is an important tool here. The established practice of experimental archaeology is a central component of the cultural education at the archaeological open-air site at MAMUZ Schloss Asparn/Zaya.

The study of prehistoric and ancient historic technologies and, in association with this, archaeological experiments have a long tradition in Asparn. Since the archaeological open-air site has existed, importance has often been attached to clarifying historical questions using practical experimental arrangements, especially when building archaeological models based on historical assumptions such as the Neolithic longhouse, Bronze Age beam construction and many others. Experiments have been carried out on prehistoric architecture, on questions of Late Palaeolithic tent construction and the baking of Neolithic bread. The focus today is on communicating and presenting vivid cultural models for a broad public.

Since 1982, the archaeological open-air site has also been a centre and training establishment for experimental archaeology for the University of Vienna’s Department of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology.  Thanks to the museum’s pioneering role throughout Europe in the area of experimental research, it is still possible today for annual courses to be held for students specialising in this field as part of three- and four-day seminars at the museum. The course comprises a lecture on experimental archaeology and on the history of technology, and the aim here is, on the one hand, to teach the theoretical foundations, for example the methodical approach and the definition of questions. On the other hand, the goal is also to make practical aspects of this research method understandable by teaching about handcraft practices, technical equipment, work processes and knowledge of the properties of various materials.

In the future MAMUZ Schloss Asparn/Zaya will also focus on the development of experimental archaeology techniques at the archaeological open-air site on the one hand, and on the other hand cooperate with the Department of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology in Vienna and with other universities at the international level to ensure that the museum remains the first point of contact as a training centre and a place of activity for up-and-coming experimental archaeologists. 

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