World Heritage Award 2022 of the Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut region awarded to NHM Vienna archaeologist Hans Reschreiter

02. May 2022
The Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut region has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list for 25 years. On Austrian World Heritage Day, representatives of UNESCO, the Upper Austrian World Heritage sites, the Province of Upper Austria, the mayors of the municipalities and the Director General of the Natural History Museum Vienna met to celebrate this anniversary. The initiator of the celebration, Dr. Hans Reschreiter of the NHM Vienna, received the “World Heritage Award”.
Since 2007, the World Heritage Award – also known under the name of Friedrich Simony Prize – has been bestowed on persons or institutions who have rendered outstanding services to the promotion of a World Heritage region and the World Heritage idea. It is named after Friedrich Simony (1813-1896), who put his work as a geologist, glaciologist and speleologist, geographer, painter and writer at the service of the region and thus promoted its great popularity also among the scientific community. The award is designed to keep the World Heritage in public awareness in the region and among the population, and also make it a point of interest for international guests.
Dr. Hans Reschreiter, prehistorian and Hallstatt researcher at the NHM Vienna and initiator of the World Heritage celebration, is this year’s winner of the World Heritage Award. He emphasises that he is  “delighted about this surprise and honour. It means a great deal to me to be thus distinguished by this region where I have been doing research and working for many years.”
The Hallstatt branch of the NHM is dedicated to an exploration of the prehistoric mines, the history of 7,000 years of salt production, and to the emergence and evolution of this unique salt region from the Stone Age to the present day. Dr. Hans Reschreiter is one of the prehistory experts who explore tunnels and salt mining chambers in the Hallstatt salt mountain and produce reconstructions that present a vivid picture of the way of life, the working conditions, the tools and the fashion of the people who lived here thousands of years ago. “7,000 years of uninterrupted salt production in Hallstatt are what makes this World Heritage site and the entire region so special – it is of incredible value for our prehistoric research, but also for current salt production,” says the Director General of the NHM Vienna, Dr Katrin Vohland. The research activities in Hallstatt are conducted in cooperation with Salinen Austria AG and Salzwelten GmbH.
Helga Pucher, MBA and Mag. (FH) Barbara Winkelbauer, Managing Directors of Salzwelten GmbH, said of the cooperation: “No one is more deserving of the World Heritage Award than Hans Reschreiter. In many years of close cooperation, we have developed with him numerous educational programmes at the Salzwelten as well as exhibitions. Hans has provided valuable input for these activities, and he manages to explain complex matters in an easily accessible way. His great enthusiasm for prehistoric mining and his organisational skills are undisputed, and this he demonstrates every year in the context of ‘Archäologie am Berg’ in the Hochtal. His positive mindset enables him to assemble the most diverse stakeholders from science, business, authorities, tourism and local institutions around the table and to work towards our common interests. The Salzwelten and the Saline also give financial support to the research in Hallstatt in the form of a small portion of every admission ticket which goes to research. We know these funds to be in good hands with Hans Reschreiter. We cannot imagine archaeology in ‘our’ salt mountain without him.”
© NHM Wien, Daniel Brandner
© Ulli Hillbrand