The history of the Archaeozoological Collection

Archaeozoology emerged as a science in the second half of the 19th century, following the discovery of lake dwellings in Switzerland , where, for the first time ample bone material from the Neolithic was recovered. Thenceforth Swiss scientists advanced this discipline with great energy.

Soon also in the Austro-Hungarian empire projects with similar targets were tackled, even if they remained of modest scope. In the first half of the 20th century it was mainly the Department of Animal Husbandry at the then College of Agriculture (Hochschule für Bodenkultur) which, among other things, was concerned with osteological investigations in connection with descent and history of livestock. We are particularly indebted to the chair holders Leopold Adametz and Johann Wolfgang Amschler for several works on this subject. The rich collection of skulls of ancient domestic breeds, initiated by Adametz is part of the Archaeozoological Collection today. After this period the discipline fell into neglect in Austria for several decades, only to be revived with the foundation of the Archaeozoological Collection.


This collection is among the most recent institutions of the Natural History Museum in Vienna . Archaeologists, ever increasing demand for zoological investigations on animal bone finds from prehistoric settlements made it necessary to get the relevant technical equipment and personnel. This need was met in 1972 by additional staff, and the Archaeozoological Collection was administrativly separated from the Mammal Collection . At first this new unit stayed nevertheless tightly connected with that of the mammals in terms of staff, structure and locality. Growing difficulties (storage of material, cramped working conditions) inevitably led to another reorganisation and, in 1992, to the move to other premises. Finally, in 1995, the collection could settle in a newly adapted attic.