Recent renovations at the Austrian castle of Ebenfurth have uncovered 28 17th-century headstones from a Jewish cemetery, along with fragments of others. Jewish Heritage Europe reports:
The matsevot [gravestones] were discovered early this year. They had been used in the foundations of a wall built against the Ottoman invasion in 1683 at the Ebenfurth castle, about 30 miles south of Vienna on the border between Lower Austria and Burgenland, [i.e., in the northeastern part of the country].
“It is undoubtedly a sensational find,” wrote Johannes Reiss, the director of the Austrian Jewish Museum in nearby Eisenstadt, on the museum’s blog. He wrote that all the gravestones and fragments with legible dates dated from between 1622 and 1669. The oldest is the gravestone of one Eliezer, son of Abraham Moses, who died on 8 Tevet 5383 (Sunday, December 11, 1622).
Reiss wrote that, between 1652 and 1671, Ebenfurth was the largest of 48 Jewish communities in Lower Austria; by 1669 Jews made up 20 to 30 percent of the town’s population. But the community was expelled in 1671, and it wasn’t until nearly 200 years later, after 1867, that a few Jews settled there again.