Photo: György Gábos

The Oscar Montelius Foundation (OMF) Trustees, consisting of Elin Dalen  (Chair), Margaret Gowen Larsen and Arkadiusz Marciniak have decided to award the second Early Career Achievement Prize (ECAP) of the OMF to

Constanze Hedwig Schattke

Constanze Schattke is awarded the 2022 Early Career Achievement Prize on the grounds of the social, innovation, interdisciplinarity and international impact of her early career work.

Constanze Schattke is a young researcher working on osteological collections in museums. In her newly started PhD research, she is going to combine bioarchaeology with provenance to investigate violence in the acquisition contexts of human remains at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, especially during the period 1857–1935. The timespan represents a period when many collections of looted humane remains from Indigenous and other groups were assembled by museums of Europe. The human remains were collected and studied in former scientific traditions that are considered inappropriate in recent times.

Ms. Schattke’s Master of Science research involved in-depth provenance research on collections of humane remains drawn from Indigenous People from South America. The study of human remains can reveal important insights into the past and can provide previously unrevealed information even about each individual studied.

As part of her work, Ms. Schattke has participated in the planning of the repatriation of human remains to Hawaii in 2022, together with an associated ceremony. Regarding Indigenous Maori and Moriori human remains from New Zealand in which she has recommended the repatriation of a collection of more than 50 remains from people to their New Zealand community representatives. She is currently involved preparation of associated repatriation ceremonies.

Her work reveals a person who is inquisitive and fearless as well as particularly sensitive. This is seen in the manner in which she has impart the knowledge gained from her research on specific groups to the descendants of those populations and their communities of origin. She has demonstrated that she possesses the insightful and ethically appropriate approach needed in the pursuit of her work and in her communications with the descendant communities of the collections she is working with.

Societal impact - Ms. Schattke has established contact with descendant community organisations, such as the Corporación Selk'nam Chile and Fundación Hach Saye. She specifically learned and improved her Spanish in order to communicate directly with the Indigenous descendants of the human bone collection she has studied. The Selk’nam are currently in the process of gaining recognition as Indigenous People from the Chilean state. The knowledge of the descendants and the international community about the bones of the Selk´nam in Vienna gives them back a part of their cultural identity and empowers them in their fight against extinction.

Innovative impact: Ms. Schattke was the first person from the Natural History Museum to pro-actively search for and seek contact with communities of descendants whose bones are curated in one of the biggest collections of human remains in Europe.

Interdisciplinary impact: Ms. Schattke’s research is generally characterised by an interdisciplinary approach. She combines bioarchaeological and forensic methods with research results from archival and historical sources within the Vienna Natural History Museum and in other institutes and libraries in Vienna and abroad. In doing so, she reconstructs a detailed provenance history and creates an individual osteobiography of personal details for each individual.