The doctoral research projects of Daniel Neumann and Tilmann Vachta analysed the spatial characteristics of selective deposition in the Bronze Age landscape in two adjacent regions of Central Europe: the Alpine Area and the low mountain range. Tilmann Vachta’s research focused on places of bronze age deposition in the area between Moselle and Bohemia. Daniel Neumann’s research focused on places of bronze age deposition in the Central European Alpine area.


Aims and Premises

During almost all stages of the European Bronze Age in an area between the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, people intentionally deposited metalwork. In the context of selective deposition, we observe the material complement of a complex ritualized cultural practice. Beyond the act of deposition, the deposit itself comprises a high symbolic value. On the one hand the residues of ritual may be taken as a symbolic statement, while on the other hand the site of deposition forms part of a ritual orchestration. The focus of the research is therefore to examine the spatiality of deposition. We know a lot about the objects that were deposited but – with some exceptions – very little about the detailed geomorphological features of the particular sites. A broad as well as detailed analysis of the sites and their spatial relationships to other contexts of deposition is still lacking.


Even sites that were found a long time ago have provided much relevant and hitherto unpublished topographical data, the presentation of which was in itself one of the aims of the two projects. The intensification of deposition over the course of the Bronze Age is also mirrored in a changing use of depositional space: towards the end of the Bronze Age there is a tendency toward cumulative deposition not only in fortified hill settlements, but also in distinctive depositional zones in a given landscape, such as the Rabenwand or Porta Bohemica.

Moreover, it can be shown that the places of deposition are deliberately chosen for their visibility of and from the surrounding terrain. The places are generally liminal with respect to distinct topographical features, which can be set apart as distinct spaces in the landscape. Defining a typology of these places and correlating this to other aspects of the Bronze Age depositional practice are among the further aims of the two studies.

Both dissertations were successfully completed in 2012/2013.


Tilmann Vachta, Bronzezeitliche Hortfunde und ihre Fundorte in Böhmen, Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2016

Daniel Neumann, Landschaften der Ritualisierung. Die Fundplätze kupfer- und bronzezeitlicher Metalldeponierungen zwischen Donau und Po, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015