Where was Ötzi found? How did he live? These questions as well as other similar ones are posed by the exhibitions in the museum and in the open-air area of the archeoParc Val Senales. As is the case with many archaeological open-air museums, the structure manages to provide the answers practically without any original archaeological finds. Rather, it depicts faithful copies (replicas) as well as conceivable reproductions and interpretations of the finds.
In July 2017, with the opening of “The discovery” and “Primitive? Skilled!”, the second generation of exhibitions was inaugurated in the archeoParc. They tell the story of the discovery of Ötzi, as well as how he and his contemporaries may have lived 5,300 years ago. “The valley where the Iceman was found” in the entry area shines a spotlight on the history of the Val Senales, while “The discovery site at Senales-Giogo Tisa” then presents the hollow in the rocks in which Ötzi was discovered. Those who are responsible for the arrangement of the indoor exhibition route are archeoParc Director Johanna Niederkofler, architect Brigitte Kauntz from Merano, graphic designer Ganesh Neumair from Lana, and partners from both within the country and abroad. The main focuses of the exhibitions include the activity area (indicated in the list below with //), which invites visitors to contemplate questions which may in fact remain unanswered forever, and media stations with contents which change annually and which are oriented toward return visitors who are interested in going further into depth. In addition to the standard texts, the exhibitions also contain compact information for those visitors who may be in more of a hurry, as well as word-image texts in story form for children of elementary school age.
Tours through the exhibitions are held every Sunday at 3:00 P.M. and may also be reserved for any desired time.
The valley where the Iceman was found
How the Senales Valley developed through the ages is told by five niches with exhibits and texts on the local history, archaeology, and geology. Large-format landscape photos with applied graphics form the rear walls of the niches. They are reminiscent of the experience of dreamy views through the window – and into bygone eras.
- Commuters, investors, vacationers
// It’s been so long since…
- Lords, carthusians, farmers
- Shepherds, alpine dairymen, first settlers
- Gatherers, messengers, hunters
- Seas and glaciers form a valley
The events of 19 September 1991 and their consequences
Through the use of exhibits and texts, the small exhibition area presents the discovery of Ötzi and his fascination for research and society:
- A significant day for the world
The first part of the exhibition tells how it came to be that Erika and Helmut Simon from Nuremberg, Germany discovered Ötzi and why the two South Tyrolean extreme mountain climbers, Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander, happened to pass by the recovery going on at the discovery site.
- An extraordinary discovery at an extraordinary place
A series of particular conditions led not only to the natural mummification of Ötzi, but also to the nearly complete preservation of his equipment for more than five thousand years…
//5,300 Years Ago on the Tisenjoch
- Undiminished fascination
Up to today, scientists and interested laypeople continue to be occupied with Ötzi. How did we get there? And why is Ötzi called Ötzi?
Life between the valley floor and the ice line 5,300 years ago
Reproductions of a selection of around four hundred archaeological finds from Senales Giogo Tisa ridge form the main focus of the exhibition on Ötzi’s habitat. It deals with plants, animals, and rocks which supplied the raw materials for his clothes, weapons, and tools, as well as with the Stone Age knowledge concerning the selection and processing of these raw materials.
- Lower areas
Where Did Ötzi Live? Several types of wood from which Ötzi’s weapons and tools were made are indications that the central point of his life lay at lower elevations, possibly in the Lower Val Venosta. A large diorama with plant preparations from original plant substances and with original reproductions shows how the forest may have looked here during the time of Ötzi.
- House, farm, garden
How did Ötzi live? Remains of grain that were found in Ötzi stomach as well as clothing made from the leather of domesticated animals lead to the presumption that Ötzi belonged to a culture of settled farmers. Where could Ötzi’s settlement have been located? What crops were planted there?
//This is How Ötzi’s Clothing Felt…
//As Big as…
- Middle elevations
The trees and shrubs from which some of the woods that Ötzi used come are very resistant to frost and grow up to middle elevations. In this area of the exhibition, you will see which types of woods are among those and how Ötzi used them. How is the adhesive “birch tar” obtained from the bark of the birch tree? For what purposes did Ötzi carry the tree fungus birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) around with him?
- High elevations
Aside from the fact that Ötzi died in the high mountains, the remains of wood coals show that he was here. They originated from plants that are found here above the timberline. Did Ötzi hunt in these high elevations?
- Deposits in the distance
Ötzi had a knife and arrowheads made from flint and an axe with a blade made of copper. Where did Ötzi get the flint and the copper? Was the copper axe a sign of power similar to the scepter of a king?
- Ways of Life
Ötzi was between forty and fifty years old when he died. He suffered from, among other things, digestive complaints. His body was tattooed. We know about large portions of his equipment. In addition to archaeological experiments, ethnology offers possible answers. How do you imagine Ötzi’s everyday life to have been?
//How Ötzi Lived…
//What Ötzi Looked Like…
//What Ötzi and I Have in Common…
The discovery site at Senales-Giogo Tisa
The discovery site of Ötzi lies in a gully directly on the main ridge of the Alps at an elevation of 3,210 m (10,532 ft.) above sea level. How difficult was the recovery operation at the time, and how was it ultimately determined that the discovery site lay within Italian territory and not in Austria? You will see a 1:3 scale model here of the hollow in the rocks in which Ötzi was found.
At different locations along the exhibition route, video and audio stations invite the visitor to go further into depth in a variety of topics. Experts present their current research projects, demonstrate old handicraft techniques, and answer interview questions from children:
- Current video stations:
The 2017-18 video stations are devoted to the topics of archery (Jürg Hassler), making birch tar (Eckhard Czarnowski and Ernst Gamper), forging metal (Ernst Gamper and Markus Bingeli), and making fire (Philipp Schraut).
- Current audio stations:
The 2018 edition of “Children Ask, Researchers Answer” presents the following topics:
Why did you find Ötzi? Melanie, Delia, and Moritz in conversation with Ötzi discoverer Erika Simon
During the time of Ötzi, did people already live in the mountains? Lena, Sophie, Sara, Janik, and Simon in conversation with Andreas Putzer, archaeologist, Bolzano.
Did Ötzi resemble us? Lena, Adan, Stefano, Marie Sophie, and Rosa in conversation with Albert Zink, anthropologist, Eurac Research, Bolzano
- Earlier audio stations:
2017 How was Ötzi preserved? –Julia, Julian, and Greta in conversation with Georg Kaser, glaciologist, University of Innsbruck (Austria)
2017 What did people eat during Ötzi’s time? – Jacob, Rosa, and Luca in conversation with Umberto Techiatti, archaeologist, Office of Archaeological Heritage, Bolzano
2017 What did Stone Age houses look like? – Nadia, Hannes, and Peter in conversation with Wulf Hein, archaeological technician, Frankfurt (Germany)
Good things come in small packages. We have 40 sq. m (430 sq. ft.) available for special exhibitions. Here we have the possibility of showing something new from time to time to a full one third of our patrons who are return visitors. This allows us to go further into depth with regard to Ötzi and his times.
The good spirits behind the temporary exhibitions are usually a guest curator, Museum Director Johanna Niederkofler, and our own house technician Siegmar Gamper.
For this year’s exhibition in the archeoParc cafeteria, Lageder deals with the subject of the hand. Hands that scribble, make things, pray, or do nothing… Hands that wait. Hands in an interplay between activity and passivity. Hands that think and hand that do not think. Lageder’s works come into existence for the most part at locations where extensive activity hardly exists: in sick beds, or in the waiting rooms at doctors’ offices. They are the hands of ill people and the hands of helping people – of people whom Lageder has encountered as a result of her social engagement and her personal health history over the past years.
The open-air area
In the open-air area, which is accessible from the second floor of the Visitor’s centre, in addition to nine Stone Age house models and an instructional path on trees, there are also thematic stations as well as areas where visitors can try out Stone Age activities themselves: the visitor workshop, the archery range, and the dugout dock.
The open-air area was conceived and arranged in several building phases in cooperation with the Forestry Superintendancy of Merano (Rainald Tirler, Herbert Niederfriniger (2001), and Reinhold Kuppelwieser), freelance agronomists and archaeological technicians, and experts in a variety of archaeological disciplines (Lukas Kuntner, Wulf Hein, Annaluisa Pedrotti, Raffaella Poggiani Keller, Mariadelia Bernabò-Brea, Daria Banchieri, Marco Baioni, Urs Leutzinger, Niels Schleicher, Umberto Techiatti, and Paolo Bortolotti).
A large section of the area has undergone various reorganizations since 2001. The “Alpine Valleys” and “Po Valley” house groups were inaugurated in 2017 and 2018-19, respectively.
The nine actual-sized Neolithic house models are based upon archaeological finds from inner-Alpine valleys, the wetland settlements at Lake Constance and Federsee lake, and from the Po Valley and have been constructed to the greatest extent possible with the same materials that were used with the originals. In parallel to their education use, some of the houses function as a sort of test in practice for researchers in various archaeological disciplines who have to completely manage without any use of modern-day materials. They are indicated in the area with the symbol of screw with a line through it.
Houses Alpine Valleys
- Villanders-Plunacker House
This house model along with the terracing wall was created with the inclusion of a finding from an archaeological excavation in Villanders in the Isarco Valley of South Tyrol (Villanders-Plunacker, 2710 bc, Copper 3): there is evidence here of a rectangular building in post construction as well as a fireplace and a dry stone wall. The archeoParc house model with the clay-plastered wattle and daub walls has a door made from poplar boards which is modeled after another Copper Age find from Zürich-Parkhaus Operà (Switzerland). The window openings were based upon the clay wall remains from Brescia-San Polo.
In the archeoParc, this house is also called the “Demonstration House”. This is where the demonstrations on prehistoric fire making are held. Another model of the same house find is located at the Archeoparc Villanders, and there is a reconstruction of the door leaves at the Dithmarschen Stone Age Park in Albersdorf (Germany).
- Villanuova sul Clisi-Monte Covolo-House
The original for the floor plan and parts of the floor and walls at the entryway came from the Val Sabbia five kilometers west of Lake Garda in the province of Brescia (Villanuova sul Clisi-Monte Covolo, 3350-2890 bc, Copper 1-2).
In an analogous manner to the archaeological finding of a surrounding trench a few centimeters deep without any traces of supporting posts, a frame construction slightly below the soil line was created here on which the house floor, the walls, and the roof rest (threshold construction). Also modeled after excavation findings are the lateral supports, the clay-plastered wattle and daub wall, the oak floorboards, and the gravel drainage between the house and the hillside. The paving and the fireplace in front of the house are documented at the same discovery site, although at different stages of construction.
The findings from Villanuova sul Clisi-Monte Covolo are housed and exhibited by the Museo di Gavardo. The actual-size model in the archeoParc is the first reconstruction of this house area.
Houses North Alpine Foreland
- Arbon-Bleiche 3 Houses (Switzerland)
2001 and 2017
These house models depict houses as they may have stood at the time of Ötzi’s grandparents on the Swiss shores of Lake Constance (Arbon-Bleiche 3, 3385 – 3371 bc, Pfyn and Horgen cultures). With its numerous remnants of building timber, the excavation findings from close to Arbon make reconstruction attempts possible such as those in the archeoParc open-air exhibition areas:
Two houses were built here with post and beam construction with posts that still had the bark on, with one row of pillars and two rows of studs. In a manner that is analogous to the finding, the posts that were used had forked, incised ends as well as thin split planks made primarily from silver fir. The bindings were made from abaca fiber (Manila hemp) rope. Just like at the discovery site, the floors of the house are raised above the underlayer. The door of the house model, which was created in 2001, follows an excavation finding in Robenhausen, Germany. It is made from a single board of silver fir.
For a long time at the archeoParc, this house was called the “Big Hut”, and up to 2017, the demonstrations on prehistoric fire making were held here. Another reconstruction of a house area from Arbon-Bleiche 3 is found in the Pfahlbaumuseum in Unteruhldingen am Bodensee (Germany), while the findings from the excavation are housed and exhibited in the Archaeologocal Museum in Frauenfeld (Switzerland).
- Alleshausen-Grundwiesen Houses (Germany)
The originals for the two house models originate from an excavation from Federsee lake in Upper Swabia (Alleshausen-Grundwiesen, 3020 and 2700 bc, Goldberg III Group): the buildings, with dimensions of approximately 5 x 4 m, are built in tied and interlaced wall construction that is slightly similar to a log cabin. They have an undivided interior room and are provided with a fireplace that is located approximately in the center.
The archaeological finding of the reference settlement leads to the presumption of the specialization of the inhabitants in flax cultivation and indicates exclusively seasonal usage.
The two houses have different roofs: as is usual seen frequently at the archeoParc, the house on the slope has a shingle roof made from larch, while the house at the well was experimentally roofed with oak bark (monk and nun).
There are additional house reconstructions of house areas from the same excavation at the Federseemuseum in Bad Buchau (Germany), where a large portion of the associated findings are exhibited.
Houses Po Plain
- Parma-Via Guidorossi Houses
The two house models with a round apse were modeled after findings from an excavation from southwest of Parma (Parma-Via Guidorossi, 3310-2690 bc, Copper 1-2). With a central axis that is 14 to 15 m long, although they are the largest house models in the archeoParc, they represent the smallest of approximately eighteen of them in the floor plans that are documented in Parma-Via Guidorossi. Just as at the discovery site, the houses are built with very large posts that are anchored in the ground (post construction) which support the roof and a sort of attic.At the archeoParc, the houses are primarily used as meeting and sleeping rooms for groups on project days (Stone Age Adventure Days, vacation care). The house reconstructions in the archeoParc are the first full-sized models made of buildings from the Parma-Via Guidorossi discovery site. There are few small findings from the house areas. They are housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Parma.
- Brescia-San Polo House
The house model with the oval floor plan is based upon an archaeological finding within the municipal area of Brescia (Brescia-San Polo, 2600 bc, Bell Beaker Culture). The post construction with clay wattle and daub wall is covered with reeds. The gate that has been reconstructed is documented at the Zürich-Operà (Switzerland) discovery site. The three window openings in the wall are the interpretation of a piece of clay plaster with a rounded edge in the articles of the finding.
The findings from Brescia-San Polo are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Lombardy. The house which has been reconstructed in the archeoParc is the first full-sized model made of a building from the Brescia-San Polo discovery site.
Other thematic points
Brief information on the plants, animals, and techniques that are evidenced from the discovery site of Ötzi and other archaeological excavations from the Copper Age may be found in the open-air area in the text steles along all three pathways:
Tree learning path
Along with Ötzi, equipment made from various materials was discovered. The majority of it was made of wood: for the hatchet handle, knife handle, cords, arrows, the bow, etc., Ötzi used wood from a total of nearly twenty different types of wood. Most of them grow here: in the open-air area, they are marked with a stylized design of the commemorative pyramid at the discovery site of Ötzi.
Wild plant learning path
A selection of wild herbs, plants that were gathered, and dye plants grow along the paths in the archeoParc open-air area. They are labeled, or will be in coming years, and provide a small view into the world of wild plants five thousand years ago.
Barley and the ancient species of wheat emmer and einkorn grow on the demonstration fields at the archeoParc. Another field is reserved for flax. From its fibers, the threads are made for clothes and bowstrings.
Alpine Valleys plant cultivation
Po Valley plant cultivation
Northern Alpine Foothills plant cultivation
Archaeotechnical thematic path
The topics of the archaeotechnical thematic path deal with the subject areas of food, handicraft, and mobility. There are currently steles in the open-air area with brief information on the following topics:Baking oven
Quern with hand stone
Milk processingCopper smelting area
Ceramic firing pitDugout
- NIEDERKOFLER Johanna (2013): Anglerglück von der Steinzeit bis heute. Ausstellung zur Fischereigeschichte im archeoParc Schnalstal. In: Südtiroler Fischerzeitung 3/2013. p. 14f. [Article online]
- HEIN Wulf (2007): Dächer aus Eichenrindenschindeln im Praxistest. In: Mamoun FANSA et. al. (Hg.): Holz-Kultur von der Urzeit bis in die Zukunft. Ökologie und Ökonomie eines Naturrohstoffs im Spiegel der Experimentellen Archäologie, Ethnologie, Technikgeschichte und modernen Holzforschung. Conference at Oldenburg 24.-25.11 2005. Oldenburg 2007. p. 258-263.
- PLATZGUMMER Johanna (2005): Ein Zugang zu den Themen Ernährung und Landwirtschaft in der Prähistorie am Beispiel Archeoparc Schnals. In: Annali di San Michele. No. 18. 2005. p. 1-23.
- RENHART Silvia (2002): ArcheoParc Schnals – Lebensraum des Mannes aus dem Eis. Der neue Archäologiepark in Südtirol. In: Archäologie Österreichs 13/1. 2002. p. 60–62. [Article online]
- RENHART Silvia (2002): ArcheoParc Schnals. Lebensraum des Mannes aus dem Eis. Südtirols erstes archäologisches Aktiv-Museum. In: Südtirol in Wort und Bild. No. 46-47. 2002-2003. p. 37-40.
- RENHART Silvia (2002): Archäologisches Aktivmuseum. In: Archäologie in Deutschland 2002, 4.
- RENHART Silvia (2000): Der Mann aus dem Eis und seine Welt. Bozen 2000. p. 29-31.
- RENHART Silvia (2000): L’uomo rimasto nel ghiaccio ed il suo mondo. Bolzano 2000. p. 29.-31.
- RENHART Silvia (1999): Archäologiepark Schnals. In: Arunda 51. 1999. p. 159. [Article online]
- RENHART Silvia (1999): Der Mann aus dem Eis (Ötzi) – Archäopark Schnals. In: Archäologie Österreichs 10/1. 1999. p. 38.