The Hallstatt era is named after the city Hallstatt in Austria, where the first artifacts were found. It lasted from about 1200 BC to about 275 BC. There were different periods, which today are mainly told apart by the kinds of brooches used. These brooches changed rather rapidly, and permit a good estimate. Hallstatt culture sites have been found in the east of France, in Switzerland, in the south of Germany, in Austria, in Slovenia and Croatia, northwestern Hungary, southwestern Slovakia and southern Moravia.
In this time, the social structure developed into a hierarchy. This can be documented by various things that were added to graves, for example at Magdalenenberg. In the Bronze Age, people used to live in big settlements. As iron became available, trade routes changed. A new upper class could establish itself. Unlike before, these upper class people liked to live in big houses in the countryside, as a demonstration of their power. Funerary cults also changed, from cremation burials, to burials with . The new upper class used their wealth for import goods, mostly from the Mediterranean.