Simulation Notes Europe, Volume 22(1), April 2012

Physical Modelling for Hallstatt Archaeology

Simulation Notes Europe SNE 22(1), 2012, 25-32
DOI: 10.11128/


Computer simulation can contribute important insights into different areas of archaeology as an addition to traditional experimental methods used to find answers for certain questions arising from archaeological findings, e.g. how tools were used or simply why things were the way they were. In a cooperative project between the Nat-ural History Museum Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology, questions regarding prehistoric physical systems are analyzed. These systems originate from archaeological investigations on the prehistoric salt mines in Hallstatt (Austria) in the Bronze Age.  Three case studies are presented in this article. The first example studies different designs of rope pull systems used to hoist the broken salt from the mining halls through shafts to the surface. In the second task, bronze picks for breaking the salt are investigated using dynamic simulation. The third and last task presents some calcula-tions regarding illumination and air consumption in the mining halls. The simulations allow comparison of differ-ent scenarios, help falsifying propositions and gain knowledge in certain aspects regarding technical equip-ment and working conditions in the prehistoric salt mines in Hallstatt.