Steinzeitlive Arche Warder, Sunday, October 11, 2020

Steinzeit Live

On Sunday, October 11, it is “Steinzeit Live” and the Stone Age settlement of Arche Warder comes to life again. The culture and life of the first farmers in Northern Germany more than 5,000 years ago will be recreated in the Stone Age Village with many exciting activities. Archaeologists and researchers from Kiel University will present and offer insights into their archaeological research. Scientists of archaeozoology and isotope research, environmental archaeology and archaeobotany from the Excellence Cluster ROOTS and the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology will be happy to answer your questions. How did the people of Northern Germany in the Neolithic period live? How did they feed themselves 5,000 years ago? Which plants did they used? Questions are to be investigated both playfully and scientifically at various stations. The Kiel research workshop with the archaeo:laboratory will also be displaying facial urns. 

Tours to the Stone Age houses will start at 12 and 14 o'clock. Please register in advance: registration is possible for time between 11 and 13 o´clock and between 13.30-17 o´clock. Simply send an email to klingel@arche-warder.de

For more information (in German): Link
 

People in ROOTS: Guillermo Torres

Guillermo Torres

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Guillermo Torres, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Guillermo, you began your postdoctoral work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in 2020. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My research within ROOTS focuses on the study of a human niche and modifications of the human gene-pool introduced by alterations in diet and lifestyle along the construction of this niche. Over the last 15,000 years, humans have passed through important transitions that significantly contributed to the construction of their own niche. One of these major transitions was the Neolithic Period which occurred about 10,000 to 6,000 years ago. This period was marked by the beginning of agriculture and the domestication of animals as food sources and, in turn, by the consumption of a diet rich in cereals as well as milk and meat. This dietary transition from the (non-cereal-eating) hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the Neolithic lifestyle occurred in a short lapse of time (~500 generations), and it introduced a tremendous selection pressure on our ancestors who had not yet been genetically adapted to the new diet. Additionally, when the nomadic hunter-gatherers turned into sedentary farmers, their lifestyles were characterised by overcrowded settlements, close contact with domestic animals and a lack of hygiene. Such dramatic and rapid changes in lifestyle, a rather unbalanced and pro-inflammatory nutrition together with an increased exposure to infectious agents contributed substantially to the shaping of our modern gene-pool.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
With the transition from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles, humans were exposed to dietary and immunological challenges. Therefore, one line of my research aims to investigate shifts in diversity patterns of immunological stressors. This is done by analysing metagenomes from human bones, dental-calculus, and other environmental sources (e.g. soil, birch pitch, fossilised biofilms). The second research line aims to investigate human genetics to discover signatures of selection related to shifts in dietary patterns and/or immunological stressors. This is done by comparative genomics using whole genome sequencing and customised genotyping arrays.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
In 2009, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Biology at the Institute of Geneticsof the National University of Colombia. My bachelor thesis focused on the evolution of proteins playing a role in coral’s immunity to pathogens. In 2014, I received my Master of Science in Biology from the Institute of Biotechnology with a major in genetics. For my thesis, I developed a bioinformatic tool that creates an in-silico microarray to analyse soil metagenomics and metatranscriptomics from sequencing libraries. In 2015, I moved to Germany and started my doctoral studies at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology of Kiel University. In 2019, I completed my PhD thesis, which was titled “From hydra to humans – Insights into molecular mechanisms of aging and longevity”.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?   
I like to spend time with my family. In my free time, I enjoy playing football, visiting historic places, and taking landscape photographs. Besides these activities, I never say no to a cup of coffee with cookies.  

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Guillermo Torres is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Dietary ROOTS” (link).

You can contact him at: g.torres@ikmb.uni-kiel.de

On the trail of pandemics. NDR SH Magazine reportage and studio talk with Johannes Müller

NDR

Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS have followed the tracks of pandemics with investigations on what caused diseases to break out more than ten thousand years ago and, above all, how people dealt with them in order to overcome pandemics. On Thursday, October 1st, NDR Schleswig-Holstein Magazine reported on the results of this research with interviews with researchers of Kiel University, including historians, archaeobotanists, anthropologists and experts in genetic research, as well as in a studio discussion with Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. On Saturday, October 3rd, a second reportage on this topic was broadcasted.

The two videos can be viewed following the links below.

Watch here:

 

And here:

NDR

ROOTS members at the “Ground Check – Cultural Heritage and Climate Change” Conference.

Ground Check

The ROOTS PIs, Hans-Rudolf Bork and Henny Piezonka, are presenting results of their research on the subject of cultural heritage and climate change at the online conference “Ground Check – Cultural Heritage and Climate Change”. The formerly postponed conference is now being carried out as an online event series.

On six dates between September 23 and October 29, 2020, the discussion topics will be presented by the speakers in a 3-5 minute keynote speech and then discussed with the other participants.

You can find more information and a detailed program (including registration form and links) at: Link.

People in ROOTS: Bente Majchczack

Bente Majchczack

The ‘People in ROOTS’ series proceeds with an interview of Bente Majchczack, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Bente, you recently began your work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My project focuses on geophysical and archaeological settlement research in the North Frisian Wadden Sea and is part of the subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’. The Wadden Sea landscape is a very special archaeological and geological archive due to its highly dynamic nature. Throughout prehistory and into modern times, settlers were always compelled to adapt to rising sea-levels and the forces of the sea. While the area was mostly visited to gather resources during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, first settlers started to inhabit the favourable elevated marshes during the Roman Iron Age. It was not earlier than the High Medieval period that large-scale colonisation set in to reclaim all the marshes and fenlands for agriculture, protecting the efforts with dykes and drainage systems. It all came to naught when catastrophic storm surges destroyed large parts of the cultivated land and the settlements in 1362 and 1634, turning previously inhabited marshes into tidal flats. The remains of the lost settlements are now covered and protected by sediment. My research aims to prospect these settlement remains and understand how the people living in this demanding environment tried to counter the natural hazards.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Knowledge on the lost settlements in the Wadden Sea area is very limited, since archaeological findings only occur when the geological dynamics in the tidal flats uncover something. During the last years, geophysical prospection methods have proven their potential to uncover both settlements, dykes and field systems in large areas. We will conduct geophysical and archaeological prospections in promising areas to get a better picture of the settlement systems in different times of prehistory and the settlers’ efforts to protect their homes and cultivated lands against the sea. Especially useful are geomagnetic prospections to map remains covered by sediments and drone photography to map the visible remains. Based on the prospection data, we will employ corings to verify the settlement structures and collect and analyse find material for the datings. I am mostly interested in the currently little-known settlements of the Roman Iron Age and the Early Medieval period and we will compare them with the more systematic High Medieval settlement landscape. I think that the early settlers primarily adapted on a local scale by finding protected spots for their settlements, while the High Medieval settlers changed the entire landscape to their needs, facing the challenges of the natural environment. Nevertheless, through their dyke building, large-scale drainage and peat quarrying they produced additional hazards adding to the risks of rising sea-levels and changing climatic conditions. But socio-economic hazards, such as the plague pandemic of the 14th century or the Thirty Years’ war, also weakened the populations’ resilience and contributed to the decline of the Wadden Sea settlements.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology with a minor in Geosciences at Kiel University and some Numismatics at the University of Vienna. In my master’s thesis, I analysed combined prospection data from aerial photography and several geophysical methods to shed light on settlements from the first millennium AD on the North Frisian island of Föhr. Afterwards, I joined the State Archaeological Department of Schleswig-Holstein and worked for the site register and conducted excavations.
From 2015 to 2018, I conducted my PhD project within a project on harbours of the first millennium AD along the North Sea coast at the Lower Saxony Institute for historical coastal research (NIhK) in Wilhelmshaven (link). We explored Early Medieval trading sites with a similar array of methods as implemented in the Wadden Sea project in close collaboration with my colleagues from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University. We found the sites through aerial photography, LiDAR-Scanning, systematic metal detecting and archive studies, mapped the overall settlement structures with geomagnetic prospections and gathered further details with ground penetrating radar, geoelectric and electric induction methods as well as corings. The prospection data formed the basis for targeted archaeological excavations. It was possible to excavate exactly those settlement areas and buildings needed to verify the prospection data, characterise the settlement layout and gain find material to date the settlements and gain insight into trade and craft activities. I finished my dissertation in early 2020 and joined ROOTS shortly thereafter.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
I live in Kiel and enjoy spending time with my family and friends very much. Travelling and meeting people are currently somewhat limited due to the ongoing pandemic, so I find great joy in outdoor and home-activities such as bike tours in the Kiel area, reading, cooking and spending time with my family.

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Bente Majchczack is a research associate of the ROOTS subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link ).
You can contact him at: bmajchczack@roots.uni-kiel.de

“Wellerholz” wanted!

Wellenholz

Medieval half-timbered houses characterise the townscapes of many communities in Central Europe. As cultural monuments, they are highly valued. It is little known that, in addition to the wooden skeleton in half-timbered houses, numerous other parts of plants were used in the construction of these houses. Traditionally, linen slivers are added to plywood in order to make it flexible. Poppy and flax capsules as well as pea shells were also used as natural insulation material in false floors. Grain stalks were wrapped around oak stakes and fastened with loam to be used as so-called “Wellerholz” in the ceilings. The half-timbered houses are thus also excellent archives for old plant remains, which have been preserved in dry conditions over the centuries and provide insights into the history of cultivated plants.

Within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, a group of researchers from the fields of archaeobotany, archaeology, ancient DNA and molecular evolutionary biology reconstructs and studies the history of the domestication of rye. The material starting point is the “Wellerholz” from medieval and early modern half-timbered houses. So far, we have been able to analyse rye stalks from “Wellerholz” originating from Göttingen and Lüneburg, determining stem lengths of 1.80 cm for medieval rye. For present-day agriculture, which aims at high grain yields with machine harvesting, such stalk lengths are unthinkable. However, different parts of the plant were valued in past times and, in the case of cereal stalks, they were used as insulating material and as roof covering.
By analysing “Wellerholz”, we now want to carry out first investigations on the genetic code of the plant remains (the old DNA) in order to understand how rye developed from an undesirable weed to the most sought-after medieval bread cereal. The breeding of frost-hardy varieties, for example, plays an important role in winter cereal farming. For our research, we are dependent on the support of owners of traditional half-timbered houses, who could provide us with research material.

Are you planning to renovate your traditional timbered house? Are you interested in contributing to the cultural plant history of your region in Germany or abroad? We invite you to support us by providing a small sample of the original insulation of your house: every type of “Wellerholz” is welcome!

Download: PDF for Göttingen, PDF for Einbeck, PDF for Northeim

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Contact:
Dr. Sonja Filatova, Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Kiel University, Johanna-Mestorf-Strasse 2-6, 24118 Kiel, phone: 0431/8806706, mail: s.filatova@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis, Environmental Archaeology/Archaeobotany, Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University, Johanna-Mestorf-Strasse 2-6, 24118 Kiel, phone: 0431/880-3173; mail: wiebke.kirleis@ufg.uni-kiel.de

People in ROOTS: Jens Schneeweiß

Jens Schneeweiss

The People in ROOTS series continues with an interview of Jens Schneeweiß, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Jens, you began your work some months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My research within ROOTS focuses on the archaeology of conflicts. A great deal of research exists on war and violence, but the holistic and interdisciplinary approach that we apply in the framework of ROOTS is very innovative. This opens new perspectives on the reconstruction of long-lasting conflicts and sustainable resolution strategies. In particular, I investigate cultural and territorial boundaries of the Slavic world in the Early and High Middle Ages. During this period, communities transformed from egalitarian to more hierarchically structured societies, while different worldviews and subsistence strategies collided. The emergence of polyethnic and multicultural trading sites as proto-urban central places can also be observed. This diverse topic offers numerous intersections with the research pursued by the other ROOTS subclusters.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Within such a vast topic, I investigate fortified sites in the eastern Baltic region, especially in Northwestern Russia, where Slavic and Scandinavian spheres of influence intertwined. Highly mobile warriors-trader elites used the great river systems of Eastern Europe as trade routes between Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea region, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, creating very efficient supraregional networks of interactions. In particular, my research focuses on two stronghold regions: the Volkhov River in Northwest Russia and the middle part of the Daugava / Western Dvina in Latvia and Belarus. Major fortified central places along the Volkhov (Staraya Ladoga, Rurikovo Gorodishche, Novgorod) are among the earliest Scandinavian settlements and gateways in Russia. In the second region, numerous fortifications protected the course of the river as part of the long-distance trade route. For a deeper understanding of the development of these stronghold systems and the identification of more peaceful or conflict phases, the most accurate possible dating of their functioning, extensions and abandonment is crucial. Consequently, a series of reliable radiocarbon datings is essential for the success of this project. Furthermore, I rely on other disciplines, including results from soil studies (micromorphology, biogeochemical analyses), scientific analyses of objects, geophysical prospecting, linguistic investigations of toponyms and analyses of historical data. All investigations are, of course, conducted in close and constant collaboration with local cooperation partners.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied archaeology and geology at the Humboldt University and the Technical University in Berlin. After a Magister thesis on Early Iron Age to Middle Age sites in Northeast Germany, I completed my PhD thesis at the Eurasian Department of the German Archaeological Institute with an investigation on the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age transition in Western Sibiria. I transferred to Göttingen University, where I was a scientific/teaching assistant as well as a curator of the archaeological collection. There, my investigations focused on the Western Slavic periphery in the Lower Elbe region during the Carolingian and Ottonian periods. This study created the basis for my habilitation that I completed in Göttingen in 2019. I also worked abroad at the University of Caen in Normandy at the Centre de recherches archéologiques et historiques anciennes et médiévales (CRAHAM) in 2010, and I was a Feodor-Lynen Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia from 2015 to 2017. During this research phase, I focused on the archaeology of the 1st Millennium AD with my own project in Belarus. A postdoctoral position at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig was my last station prior to moving to Schleswig-Holstein last year.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
My research is closely connected with travelling and meeting people. The possibility to experience landscapes and people is of great value to me. This is also what I enjoy doing together with my family. Our three young children are at the center of my everyday life, of course, and we all enjoy exploring new places and meeting with friends.

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Jens Schneeweiß is a research associate within the ROOTS subcluster “Roots of Conflict: Competition and Conciliation” (link).

You can contact him at: jschneeweiss@roots.uni-kiel.de

ROOTS Retreat and Advisory Board meeting – a virtual success

ROOTS RetreatImpression of the virtual conference (Illustration: Tine Pape)

On 11 and 12 June, the second ROOTS Retreat and the first Advisory Board Meeting took place. This event was carried out under special circumstances, as no usual gathering with physical contact can be held due to the Corona crisis. For this reason, a virtual meeting was organized, which was not less challenging to host than a traditional meeting.
During the Advisory Board meeting, ROOTS presented the wide range of its projects in order to introduce itself structurally and scientifically. Presentations illustrated the research agendas of the six subclusters, the Reflective Turn Forum, as well as the three platforms and the Young Academy. Moreover, postdocs of the subclusters were invited to present the progress of their research projects.
In addition to the formal presentations held especially for the Advisory Board, the retreat developed discourses on our general ROOTS research topics that focus on “Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity”. Numerous talks from different disciplines contributed to this concept. Another topic of the retreat included the formation of individual “publication groups” discussed in parallel in different virtual rooms. These groups started to develop and discuss research topics related to the ROOTS cluster with the aim to publish the results as proceedings volumes for a future ROOTS compilation.
Impressed by the broad interdisciplinary research agenda, the Advisory Board attests the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS an enormous potential regarding scientific impact and public outreach. For this, the involvement and support of young researchers is essential.
One task of the Advisory Board also included the election of a board speaker. The ROOTS cluster congratulates Helle Vandkilde (Aarhus University) for assuming this position.
In sum, the second retreat and the first Advisory Board meeting with more than 80 participants, who gathered together virtually, was a success. For the future, however, everybody hopes that this kind of virtual event will be held again as a face-to-face meeting, since digital meetings can never replace the atmosphere of real social contact.

People in ROOTS: Paweł Cembrzyński

Pawel_Cembrzynski

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Paweł Cembrzyński, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Paweł, you began your work last October in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
My research conducted in Urban ROOTS focuses on historical urban ecology. In a holistic framework, I intend to study the relations between the natural environment, society and urban forms to find out how these elements shape and influence each other. Such questions require investigations of human impact on the natural environment, human perception and responses to these changes and what follows after such changes. Both a medieval and a post-medieval town stand in the centre of these issues as a stage, where all these elements were interconnected. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS offers a perfect opportunity to study such a complex phenomenon. In addition to issues, such as urban agency and perception, which are the main research topics of Urban ROOTS investigations, important elements of my research involve environmental and social change as well as the transfer of knowledge. By combining these elements, my project opens a wide range of possibilities to cooperate with the ROOTS of Environmental Hazards, ROOTS of Inequality and ROOTS of Knowledge subclusters.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Historical urban ecology is a complex and difficult topic that has rarely been studied. To narrow down this enormous issue, I chose to investigate the ecology of medieval and post-medieval mining towns in Central Europe. These towns were dynamic places characterised by their huge impact on the natural environment, a great demand for resources, and an intensive social and economic struggle between miners, merchants, wealthy investors and lords. Their rich material culture and urban fabric, showing fortunes and aspirations of town inhabitants, opens up many research avenues for urban ecology. Specifically, I will target my research on two large mining towns: Freiberg in Germany and Kutná Hora in Czechia, which can provide a sufficient amount of historical data. As an archaeologist, I will concentrate my studies on material culture and the urban fabric of mining towns as well as the development of mining districts and mining technology. I will analyse social aspects of towns in close cooperation with historians. All environmental issues, including resource management and pollution, will be studied in cooperation with environmental science specialists. I plan to carry out some fieldwork on small short-period mining sites, which, in contrast to large centres with long-lasting mining, can help us to comprehend the mutual relations between mining and environment.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. My M.A. was concerned with water supplies and waste disposal in medieval towns and was published as a book. Subsequently, I started PhD studies at Jagiellonian University, which resulted in a dissertation about the genesis of mining towns in Central Europe. During that period, I spent a lot of time working on commercial rescue excavations especially in urban centres, which provided me with a lot of practical knowledge about urban field archaeology. In 2016, I was awarded a 3-year grant financed by the National Science Centre Poland for the project ‘Empty spaces’ in medieval towns in Central Europe. As a result, I moved to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences at the Centre of Material Culture History in Warsaw. This fellowship allowed me to work closely with historians, which greatly helped me to become familiar with historical methodology and approaches. It resulted in fruitful collaborations and inspiring interdisciplinary teamwork. As soon as I heard about the announced position in the ROOTS Cluster, I knew that this is exactly the place where I would like to continue working. I am excited to learn more about different fields of historical research.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
When I am not busy with my research, I enjoy strolling around town, exploring small streets and yards in order to observe and experience ongoing urban life. My favourite places are bookstores, where I can obtain something worth reading. However, what I like the most is to share all these experiences with good company over a pint of beer!

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Paweł Cembrzyński is a research associate with the Subcluster “Urban ROOTS” (link).

You can contact him at: pcembrzynski@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Joanna Sudyka

 

Greetings from our home offices

Greetings

In times of the corona crisis, a lot has changed for all of us. Perhaps you should currently be working at an excavation site, carrying out analyses in the lab or be in your office at the university. Instead, most of us are confined to home offices and still have to get on with our work as best as possible.
Even though all of us have to work from home at the moment, we do not want the ROOTS team members to lose contact with each other. Therefore, we will use our homepage to capture impressions from our home offices and perhaps even report about our moods and thoughts during this exceptional time.
The following videos would like to give you some impressions from our home offices and cheer you up in these difficult times.
We are really looking forward to presenting your impressions on the homepage! Please send your clips (via WeTransfer) and any questions concerning the technical procedure to Tine Pape tpape@roots.uni-kiel.de.

All the best and stay healthy!
Your team from the Communications Platform

Greetings from Ilka Parchmann

Ilka Parchmann

Greetings from Claus von Carnap-Bornheim

Greetings from Claus von Carnap-Bornheim

Greetings from Walter Dörfler

Greetings from Walter Doerfler

Greetings from Katrin Schöps

Greetings from Katrin Schoeps

Greetings from Ilka Rau

Greetings from Ilka Rau

Greetings from Jens Schneeweiß

Jens Schneeweiss

Greetings from Tim Kerig

Tim Kerig

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