It is always a joy to travel back to Vienna. The percent nitrogen (%N) samples taken the last time indicated good collagen preservation for several of the artefacts sampled at the Natural History Museum. Needless to say, it was exhilarating to hold those beautiful Mladeč tooth pendants in my hand again. After such positive results, Dr Walpurga Antl-Weiser agreed to taking tiny %N samples from the Willendorf osseous points. We are looking forward to seeing whether collagen preservation would allow for any future dating of these important Aurignacian artefacts.
Furthermore, thanks to Dr Christine Neugebauer-Maresch from the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, I was able to enjoy a train ride to Krems to have a look at some of the material from the excavations done in the early 1900s. It is our hope that radiocarbon dating will enable us to put some of these artefacts into their chronological context – for example the carved mammoth ribs (see picture).
Next stop on this sampling trip was Slovakia. Dzeravá Skala is one of the more thorough excavated sites along the Danube and hugely important for understanding the chronology of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic. After processing the first set of radiocarbon samples in spring, it was time to go back to Bratislava for a second informed sampling round in order to fill some gaps and increase the precision in the site’s chronostratigraphy. As always, Dr Anna Durisova was very hospitable and gave me access to the faunal remains stored at the Natural History Museum. Looking through well over a thousand faunal fragments in one and a half days – quite a proud achievement. The dating results will surely proof it worth the effort.