The Dachstein mountains are located in the centre of Austria. The borders of the federal provinces of Styria, Upper Austria and Salzburg converge there. The high altitude area east of the Dachstein summit (2995 m), about 300 square km in size, has been cultivated for four thousand years. In the border area between Styria and Upper Austria, also close to the town of Hallstatt, several remains of human dwellings could be located, dating from the Bronze Age, the Roman period, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times. The project presented in this publication deals with the alpine region called „Königreich" (royal realm), where there is only one cabin left today.
In the „Königreich" area (8 square km) one Roman and three Bronze Age cabin remains were located, documented and dated. They lie in karst basins that show natural grass covering, so called „prehistoric pastures". These pastures were made use of as early as the Bronze Age to supply the Hallstatt region. There is no doubt that these alpine pastures also served as supply centres for the trekking routes across the Dachstein mountains. Many questions concerning livestock, times of use of the pastures, connection to hunting activities, trekking etc. have still to be answered. Only additional interdisciplinary investigation will be able to shed light on these alpine settlements.
The „Königreich" alpine pastures together with others in the area saw another upswing in the 11th century AD. The expanded settling can be seen in connection with the founding of Admont monastery in 1074. A pollen analysis proves that the pastures were used again in the 11th century. The cabin remains were surveyed and photographed. Old documents make it possible to trace connections to the mother farm back to the 15th century.
From the early Middle Ages to the 20th century the traditional farm in the Alps was an animal farm to supply its people. Also food and money had to be turned in to the landowners. The livestock, cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats were driven to the high-lying pastures for the summer months, where dairy products were made. The nourishing grass and herbs strengthened the animals, the rough climate hardened them. The pigs were fed up with leftovers, whey and sorrel (rumex alpinus). The months that the animals stayed away from the mother farm made it possible to store winter feed and to grow corn there. Alpine pasture and mother farm formed an inseparable economic unit that enabled the population of the inner alpine areas to survive. Not before the sixties of the 20th century the use of machines, fertilizing the fields and buying animal feed and additional land made it possible to run farms without using alpine pastures. But may farmers continue to graze their animals on the high pastures, as the better health of their animals, the production of milk and cheese for the tourist industry and money from development funds mean considerable economic advantages.
This publication contains articles on the excavation of a Bronze Age cabin in the „Tiefkar", on a medieval cabin and a cabin from after 1500 AD, on the pollen analyses, the surveying of the pasture and on historical and cultural aspects.
Königreich - Alm. Dachsteingebirge. 3500 Jahre Almwirtschaft zwischen Gröbming und Hallstatt
Forschungsberichte der ANISA, Band 1. Hrsg. v. Bernhard Hebert/Gerhard Kienast/Franz Mandl. Gröbming-Haus i. E. 2007. ISBN 978-3-901071-19-5. 144 Seiten, ca. 200 Abbildungen in Farbe, Vierfarbendruck, Format 21 cm x 29,7 cm. Ladenpreis € 29,90 zuzüglich € 5,00/andere EU Länder € 12,00 Versandspesen.
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