Although archaeological supervision of building sites in Vienna’s inner district had already begun in the late 19th century, remnants of buildings and material goods from the Middle Ages and Modern Times attracted scant attention for many years. It is only since the 1980s that specific excavations from these eras have been undertaken. One important catalyst for this was the construction of the inner-city underground system.
The oldest objects in this area of the collection are vessel fragments from the 9th and 10th centuries. With their help we can deduce that the first centres of medieval Vienna were located within the largely preserved walls of the Roman legionary fortress. They were concentrated mainly in the area between today’s Hoher Markt and the Ruprechtskirche.
Within the collection the largest inventory is that of the ceramic shards. Their appearance and the composition of the clay allow conclusions to be made about the local ceramics industry as well as the import of goods from distant regions. Shards are among the most important sources for the everyday culture of this period yielding information on many areas of life ranging from eating habits, table culture to waste disposal. And fashion, too: occasionally people dressed in contemporary attire appear on the painted or relief containers and on stove tile fragments.
A memorial to Jewish victims of the National Socialist regime in Austria from 1938-1945 was erected on the Judenplatz from 1995 through 1998. This was preceded by excavations that resulted in important additions to the Museum’s collection. Digging work uncovered the synagogue that was destroyed in 1421. This temple had been located at the heart of the city quarters inhabited by the medieval Jewish community. The accompanying artefacts offer us insight into the daily life of the quarter’s inhabitants, enabling conclusions to be drawn about the furnishing of the sacred building.