About the research project

There is a long history of excavation at the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age cemetery at Hallstatt, in the salt-rich region (Salzkammergut) of Austria south of Saltzberg. The cemetery was originally excavated by Johann Georg Ramsauer between 1846-1863, and this work established the importance of the site, now the type-site for that period of prehistory in the region.  A little-known episode of work was conducted from 1866-69 by Joseph Stapf, for the British antiquarians John Evans and John Lubbock. Today, the Ashmolean houses 187 artefacts from the 1866-69 phase of work. It also houses the Sir John Evans archive.

This collaborative project, funded by the Prehistoric Society's Collections Study Award, aims to catalogue and analyse the Ashmolean’s Hallstatt collection for the first time, providing information that will be freely available through Ashmolean Collections Online and various publications. The project focuses on both object-based and archival research, and aims to produce a full account of the assemblage and the 1866-69 work at Hallstatt, and how both contribute to the broader knowledge about the cemetery.

Research aims

This project has two key research aims:

1. To examine each object in the collection and create a detailed catalogue of the material, and to evaluate the assemblage as a whole. Research will focus on evaluating production techniques, dating, decoration, and use-wear for all objects. A key question to be considered is what can be learned about the archaeological context and about the people of Hallstatt from the objects in this antiquarian collection

2. To examine evidence in the Sir John Evans archive concerning the 1866-69 work at Hallstatt. Research will focus on establishing contextual information concerning the assemblage, its recovery, and how both were regarded by the contemporary antiquarian community. It will also consider the history of the collection to the present day.

Watercolour paintings Rudolfsturm Lake Hallstatt

Watercolour of Rudolfsturm and Lake Hallstatt


Photograph of Sir John Evans c1865 © Ashmolean Museum

Sir John Evans c1865

Project funders

Prehistoric Society Collections Study Award, 2021

Project start

March 2021

Project team

Dr Jennifer Foster, University of Reading and University of Oxford.

Dr Courtney Nimura, University of Oxford

Alison Roberts, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Ian Cartwright, University of Oxford (archaeological photographer)

Nick Griffiths (archaeological Illustrator)

Ilaria Perzia, University of Oxford (project administration)

Research Connections

School of Archaeology, University of Oxford

Department of Continuing Education, University of Reading and University of Oxford


Planned: peer-reviewed book and catalogue.

Planned: peer-reviewed summary journal publication.

Planned: children’s storybook (Foster)

Planned: engagement and learning resources

On-going: new and updated object records on Ashmolean Collections Online