AIA News

June 4, 2024

In Memory of Sabine Landstatter

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Sabine Landstatter, director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and a corresponding member of the AIA. We offer our sincerest condolences to Sabine’s family, colleagues, and friends. She will be sorely missed. Below you will find an English translation of the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ announcement:

The Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) mourns the loss of Sabine Ladstätter. The renowned archaeologist died at the age of 55. Ladstätter was closely connected to the ÖAW as director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and as a real member of the academy. Her death represents a great loss for the Austrian research landscape and the international scientific community. With her, the Academy is losing a highly respected expert in her field, a warm colleague with great leadership qualities and a passionate science communicator.

Heinz Faßmann, President of the ÖAW, was deeply affected in his initial reaction: “Sabine Ladstätter was a brilliant Austrian scientist with international appeal. I have always experienced her as a person full of energy. She was passionate about her subject, archaeology, and had the great gift of being able to convey this passion and enthusiasm to a broad, non-scientific audience. With her research, particularly in Ephesus, she has made a significant contribution to the global reputation of Austrian archeology. An extraordinary person with outstanding abilities has passed away. Your loss hurts us all deeply.”


Sabine Ladstätter was born on November 22, 1968 in Klagenfurt and studied classical archaeology, ancient history and antiquity at the University of Graz. She was in charge of her first excavation between 1992 and 1998 at Hemmaberg in Carinthia, where archaeologists continue to carry out excavations on late antiquity to this day. Ladstätter received her doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1997 and has been taking part in the excavations in Ephesus, Turkey, as a research assistant since 1995.

Since this time she has also been employed at the ÖAW, initially at the Archeology Research Center and later at the Institute for the Cultural History of Antiquity, of which she was deputy director from 2001 to 2007. This year she moved to the Austrian Archaeological Institute, where she became director in 2009. She was the first woman to take over the management of the Ephesus excavation, Austria’s largest archaeological excavation abroad with around 300 employees from numerous countries.


The research areas to which Ladstätter devoted her academic work included Roman and Byzantine archaeology, economic archeology and ceramic research. She also made a significant contribution to establishing new methods in archaeology, such as bioarchaeology and geoarchaeology. Cultural heritage studies and the preservation of cultural heritage through restoration were also a central concern of hers.

This is evident not least in Ephesus. Austrian archaeologists have been digging in the ancient city on the Turkish west coast for over 125 years. Together with international teams and Turkish colleagues, we managed to resurrect the flair of a city that is thousands of years old through excavation, restoration and conservation work. In 2022, for example, Ladstätter and colleagues were able to present a spectacular find: an early Byzantine business and local district in the middle of the city was uncovered under a thick layer of rubble and fire. Ephesus now attracts more than two million visitors every year and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015 – not least thanks to the work of Ladstätter and her team.


Sabine Ladstätter shared her research work not only with a specialist audience. She was also a gifted conveyor of scientific knowledge to the general public. For her commitment to science communication and her ability to pass on the fascination of her subject to young and adult people, she was elected Scientist of the Year in 2011 by the Club of Education and Science Journalists. With “bones, stones, shards. Adventure Archeology” she was able to present the science book of the year in 2014.

Sabine Ladstätter was a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute and the Archaeological Institute of America. She held visiting professorships at, among others, the École Normale Supérieure de Paris and Stanford University. In 2023 she was elected a real member of the ÖAW.

It is with great sadness that the academy says goodbye to Sabine Ladstätter and its thoughts are with her family.

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