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(Not always) Under plaster: Medieval and modern masonry: source and bearer of significance in the history of building technology

Event Label
Lecture by Mag. Dr. Thomas Kühtreiber
Organisational Units
Conservation – Restoration
Location Description
Online via Zoom

Mag. Dr. Thomas Kühtreiber, research associate at the Institute for Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit at the University of Salzburg

The lecture sheds light on the technical development of medieval masonry as a chronological tool, but also with regard to masonry techniques and building material as a carrier of meaning.

While the research and analysis of historical plasters and other building surfaces enjoy a long tradition in the monument preservation, the study of the "core" of building structures, the walls, can still look back on a relatively short history of research and is far from being recognised in all European countries. This is surprising insofar as both in the archaeology of ancient advanced civilisations and in modern architectural iconology, such as the study of the role of buildings of the Third Reich, the importance of building technology and building material as carriers of meaning has long been recognised. The lecture will focus on medieval masonry techniques in the Eastern Alps and the Danube region: on the one hand, it will be shown that temporally easily differentiable changes in the setting technique as well as in the selection and processing of building material can be worked out, which can be used very well for the dating of buildings. This is especially true when no other chronologically relevant elements, such as architectural details, have been preserved. Based on this, reasons for the development of masonry techniques are presented. In this context, the medialisation of medieval masonry techniques and building materials as carriers of meaning will be illuminated and discussed using selected examples: Technology is not a value-neutral coping strategy for (building) tasks, but was and still is instrumentalised for various purposes.

Mag. Dr. Thomas Kühtreiber studied Prehistoric and Early Historic Archaeology (with a focus on Medieval and Modern Archaeology), History, Folklore Studies and Earth Sciences at the University of Vienna. Since 1997 research associate at the Institute for Realienkunde of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period in Krems an der Donau (until 2012 an institution of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, since then of the University of Salzburg). Main research interests: Material culture of the Middle Ages and modern times; castle research, rural settlement and rural architecture; environmental and landscape archaeology; hoard and treasure finds; materiality of pilgrimage and pilgrimage culture.