Archeology: Archeology in the narrow sense of the term is the study of ancient relics. Originally limited to the art history of Antiquity, the concept was broadened to include all finds and not only those of artistic, historical or esthetic significance, and to other cultures than those directly associated with Antiquity. Accordingly, we now speak of prehistoric, classic, provincial-Roman, Christian, medieval and urban archeology. What the different aspects of this discipline of cultural history have in common is that it relies for its sources predominantly on objects obtained through excavations in a given area and from a given epoch in combination with written sources. Scientific excavations are not confined to the salvaging of significant objects but also document the circumstances under which the finds were made by means of photographs or drawings. Particular importance attaches to stratigraphy, i.e. the close observation of cultural strata formed by human action, with due consideration of their chronology. Even though archeology had its origin in the humanities and uses their methods, it is increasingly using scientific tools.
The earliest report on archeological finds in Austria is found in the annals of the Abbey of St. Florian, which mention a cache of Roman gold coins found at Steyr in 1297. Around 1300 a monk of Kremsmuenster monastery, Berchtold (Bernardus Noricus) handed down the first copy of a Roman inscription on Austrian soil which had been found in the course of reconstruction work on the church of St. Lawrence at Lorch. From the 15th century onwards, more and more interest focused on remains and finds from Antiquity. In the early 19th century, archeological finds began to be seen as part and parcel of domestic history and the public evinced a renewed interest in its own past. Historical societies were founded and provincial museums established in Graz, Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg. The k. k. Central Commission for Research into and the Preservation of Art and Historical Monuments (Centralcommission zur Erforschung und Erhaltung der Kunst und Historische Denkmale), the forerunner of today's Bundesdenkmalamt (Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments), was founded in 1853. A Chair of Classical Archeology was established at the University of Vienna in 1869, followed in 1876 by a Chair of Roman history, Antique Studies and Epigraphy, and in 1892 by a Chair of Prehistoric Archeology, the first of its kind in the world, which was a forerunner of today's Institute of Prehistory and Early History. The Oesterreichisches Archaeologisches Institut (Austrian Archeological Institute) was founded in 1898.
Currently, excavations are carried out by the Department of Ground Monuments of the Bundesdenkmalamt, the Austrian Archeological Institute, university departments and provincial and specialised museums. In view of the imminent danger of destruction of archeological finds and sites most of the activities aim at salvaging and documenting them. Excavations operated by Austrian archeologists abroad are situated in Ephesus (Turkey), Veglia (Italy), Gizah und Tell el-Dab"a (Egypt).
Literature#A. Lippert (ed.), Reclams Archaeologie-Fuehrer Oesterreichs und Suedtirols, 1985; M. Kandler and H. Vetters (eds.), Der roemische Limes in Oesterreich, 1986; J.-W. Neugebauer, Oesterreichs Urzeit, 1990. Reports on archeological research are found in: Archaeologia Austriaca, Archaeologie. Oesterreichs, Fundberichte aus Oesterreich and Pro Austria Romana.