Wallner, M., Doneus, M., Kowatschek, I., Hinterleitner, A., Köstelbauer, F., Neubauer, W., 2022. Interdisciplinary Investigations of the Neolithic Circular Ditch Enclosure of Velm (Lower Austria). Remote Sensing 14, 2657.
Middle Neolithic circular enclosures, known as Kreisgrabenanlage (KGA), are the oldest known monumental sites in Central Europe, dating roughly to 4850–4600/4500 BC. These large prehistoric monuments are mainly discovered by aerial archaeology and have been investigated by geophysical prospection and archaeological excavations since the 1960s. The site of Velm (Lower Austria) was discovered by aerial photographs in 2001. Due to its unusual location on a flat gravel plateau, the enclosure has become the object of intensive interdisciplinary research in recent years. In 2016, two motorized ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys were conducted, resulting in a detailed three-dimensional dataset visualizing the circular ditches, palisades and dwellings of an adjacent settlement. The high contrast between the gravel sediments and the humic earthen backfill of the ditches, palisades and individual postholes resulted in a highly detailed visualization of the Middle Neolithic monument. Based on this survey, selected structures were investigated by targeted archaeological excavations to evaluate the GPR results and to take samples for radiocarbon dating. This paper presents a synopsis of all the methods used. An integrated interpretation of aerial photo information, magnetometry and GPR is conducted, and it is shown to what extent these could be verified by the targeted archaeological excavation. By a detailed analysis of all applied archaeological prospection methods, it is now possible to interpret the monument in its entirety and confirm its dating to the Middle Neolithic Lengyel cultural complex.