Ötzi, Bones and Strawberry DNA – Researchers from F4/Dietary ROOTS at Groß Vollstedt Primary School

Dietary ROOTS at Groß Vollstedt Primary School
No shyness: The medieval bones from Lübeck that Ben Krause-Kyora and Katharina Fuchs had in their science luggage arouse great excitement among the pupils of the 3rd and 4th grade at Groß Vollsted primary school. Full concentration also when experimenting with strawberries "Is this slime here DNA?" (Photos: Friederike Flachsbart, teacher of the class; used with kind permission of the parents).

"Have you ever dug up a dinosaur?"
"Is that a real bone? How old is it?"
"Who was Ötzi's murderer? And why did he escape into the mountains?"
"Wow, a mammoth tooth is sooo big... did people really eat mammoth in the past?"
"Is this slime here the DNA?"

The children from the 3rd and 4th grades of Groß Vollstedt primary school were thrilled by the stories that Katharina Fuchs and Ben Krause-Kyora, researchers in the ROOTS Subcluster Dietary (link), dug up from the past and from their laboratory cupboards. For five hours, they listened with rapt attention about the decisive turns that human history took during the Stone Age, why the ice mummy Ötzi is so valuable for bioarchaeological research, and what old skeletons can tell us about past life. Without fear of contact, they marveled at how big a mammoth tooth was, how different the lower jaws of men and women looked in the Middle Ages, and how razor-sharp that Stone Age tools were. The children showed great talent in a biological experiment in which they extracted DNA from strawberries with the help of conventional household products such as salt and washing-up liquid. Krause-Kyora and Fuchs were impressed by the children. "With such inquisitiveness, the time flew by! This shows how important these topics are for early knowledge transfer. The children will remember this for a long time – and who knows, maybe we have archaeologists of the next generation in front of us here ..." reflects Krause-Kyora. Fuchs adds, "The children's enthusiasm is overflowing! This school day was a nice change from our scientific ivory tower and showed me how easily bridges can be built to the youngest in our society. Definitely something that should play a bigger role in our scientists’ working routine. We were very delighted that the primary teacher, Friederike Flachsbart, invited us to her class room".

„Boas Walks“: Revisiting the Key Venues of a Pioneer of Modern Anthropology in Kiel

Boas Walks

The “Boas Walks” is a student initiative aiming to show the participants of the “Boas Talks” colloquium (18-21 November) and everyone interested in the history of Kiel or cultural anthropology, the most crucial places that Franz Boas would have frequented in Kiel. The excursion is organized and will be led by two students of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology – Hannah Keller and Wiebke Mainusch.

During the walk, we will be visiting the key places and commemorating the events of two distinct time phases:
1. Boas’ years of study in Kiel, at the end of the 19th century
2. The period of National Socialism in Germany.

Postcard of main building of Kiel University fom 1905

Postcard of a colorized photo showing the main building of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in the Schlosspark with a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm in the front and the library on the left, ca. 1905 (Fotoarchiv des Stadtarchiv Kiel, Sign. 98.491)

In 1879 Franz Boas moved to Kiel to work on his dissertation in physics under the supervision of Prof. Gustav Karsten; within his dissertation, which he finished in 1881, Boas was researching the optical properties of water. However, he also chose to move to Northern Germany in order to stay with his sister Toni, who was being treated here by Dr. Friedrich Esmarch - one of the most acknowledged medical experts of the time.
Later, in 1931, Boas returned to Kiel to hold a speech in honour of the 50th anniversary of his dissertation. At that time, he was already speaking as a famous researcher. Franz Boas’ talk was devoted to “race and culture”, a topic he returned to again and again during his professional life. Just two years later, his writings were listed to be burned in the fascist book burnings, which were organized and celebrated by right-wing students and citizens in Kiel.
The Boas Walks will start on November 18th, 15:00 h at the Bus stop "Hospitalstraße". Starting at this point is no coincidence – it is the exact location where Franz Boas must have headed when first coming to Kiel since it is the place where his first flat and the hospital were located.
Although Kiel might look very different today than when Boas stayed here, we are confident that tracking along these various focal points will give us a glimpse of the experience he might have had. When Franz Boas arrived in Northern Germany for the first time, it was around the same time of the year. And even though most of the actual buildings he visited do not exist anymore, we will be providing various historic pictures, maps, and other additional information to take a deep look into the city’s turbulent history through the lens of Boas’ stays here.

 Franz Boas
Franz Boas during his studies in Kiel (Cole 1999, 94)

Map of Kiel 1869Map of Kiel, 1869 (Gustav Ludolph Martens, Verlag der Universitätsbuchhandlung Kiel, 1871)

View of the old city ca. 1865
View of the old city, ca. 1865, this photo was taken in the Brunswiker Straße and should be quite similar to the view Boas would have had from his first flat in Kiel (Fotoarchiv des Stadtarchiv Kiel, Sign. 80.696)


"Boas Walks"
Date: 18 November 2021, 15:00-17:00h
Meeting point: Bus stop "Hospitalstraße"

Boas Walks is part of the "Boas Talks" colloquium
Date: 18-21 November 2021 at Kiel University
For futher information about the conference "Boas Talks" click here

Public Lecture Series by the ROOTS/JMA-Chairholders: First-rate visiting professors from the USA and Norway at Kiel University

ROOTS Public Lecture Series Tim Kohler and Charlotte Damm Tim Kohler, Washington University in Pullman/USA and Charlotte Brysting Damm, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, will open the series.

In the winter semester 2021/2022, two internationally renowned experts are the chairholders of the “ROOTS/Johanna-Mestorf-Academy (JMA)-Chairs” at Kiel University. With their lectures on the 1st and the 15th of November, 2021, Tim Kohler (Washington University in Pullman, USA) and Charlotte Brysting Damm (Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology at the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø) will open the new “Public Lecture Series” of the ROOTS/JMA-Chairs.

The ROOTS/JMA-Chairs are short-term guest professorships, which are occupied by leading international experts. Located at the Johanna Mestorf Academy, the chairholders provide insights into their research and contribute to the interdisciplinary approach of the Excellence Cluster ROOTS – Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies.

“This new lecture series presents innovative research perspectives in order to reveal the interwovenness of social, ecological and cultural phenomena of the past and to highlight the ‘roots’ of current social and ecological challenges and crises,” states Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist and speaker of the Excellence Cluster ROOTS. “It is expected that particularly young researchers will strongly benefit from such a collaborative research context, since in addition to their expertise and innovative research approaches, the JMA chairholders also bring their networks with them to Kiel,” adds Dr. Andrea Ricci, scientific coordinator of the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence.

Tim Kohler will kick off the lecture series for experts and the interested public on 1 November 2021 at 16:15 p.m. with his lecture entitled: “Can We Identify Early Warning Signs of Collapse or Transformation in Social Systems? Some Affirmative Evidence from Pueblo Societies”. Charlotte Damm will follow on 15 November 2021 at 16:15 p.m. with her lecture about “Scales of Interaction. Quantity and Quality of Encounters amongst Northern Foragers”.

Mesa Verde National Park
Residential site in Mesa Verde National Park, abandoned in the late AD 1200s (photo: Tim Kohler).

 Overview of the settlement at Taborshamn
Overview of the settlement at Taborshamn, Arctic Norway, occasionally inhabited from c.7000 BC into the 20th century AD (photo: Charlotte Damm).


ROOTS JMA Chair Lecture Series
1 November and 15. November, starting 04:15 P.M.
Venue: Klaus-Murmann-Hörsaal, Leibnizstr. 1, 24118 Kiel

The lecture series will be held in English. 3G proof must be provided on site. Mask-wearing is mandatory during the entire event.

More information:
Find the German version of the press release here
Find more information regarding the lecture of Tim Kohler here and for Charlotte Damm´s lecture here.
You can get an insight into Tim Kohler and Charlotte Damm and their research here

Dr. Andrea Ricci (Scientific Coordinator Cluster of Excellence ROOTS)

People in ROOTS: Søren Wichmann


The ‘People in ROOTS’ series continues with an interview of Søren Wichmann, one of the postdoctoral fellows of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Last September, you began to work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your research here?
As a linguist, I look forward to contributing to ROOTS research, focusing on how languages serve as a window to prehistoric communities. A lot of my work deals with the development of methods to date stages in developments of language families and to trace their geographical origins. Through looking at the words and grammars of languages in geographical proximity, I trace contacts between populations in the past. When genetic data is additionally considered, there are very exciting opportunities to see new patterns in interactions among human societies throughout the past several thousand years. I mostly take a global, comparative perspective, but also deal with the languages of particular regions, for instance New Guinea, Madagascar or the US Southwest. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS therefore offers a great framework to look at languages “closer to home”, and I plan to apply some of my research ideas, hypotheses and methods to study Russian dialects and languages of India.
More broadly, what are your main lines of research?
On the one hand, I work on computational methods to address questions of historical linguistics and, on the other hand, I contribute to the development of the datasets needed to run/complete large-scale investigations of linguistic prehistory. For more than a decade, I have built up a database of word lists, called ASJP, now covering 75% of the world’s languages, which is very useful for all sorts of comparative work. I hope to bring this closer to a near full coverage. Over the past few years, I also participated in a project aiming at the automated extraction of grammatical information from grammars, called DReaM, and I want to continue this work. Yet another database that I plan to develop includes testing mutual intelligibility among languages worldwide, an effort that requires a large, collaborative project. Finally, I play a part in the GeLaTo project, which aims to facilitate a comparison of languages and genes. At the moment, I am about to finish a study on the rate of spread of languages worldwide, and with some more data it will be possible, for instance, to make some generalisations about how often people have shifted to other languages in the past.

Career life before ROOTS: What were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
My career started out at the University of Copenhagen. My first steps as a linguist involved fieldwork to study little-known languages in Mexico. My MA thesis was a comparative study of the Mixe-Zoquean languages of Mexico, followed by my Ph.D. dissertation on the Tlapanec language spoken in Guerrero, Mexico. For a few years, I taught at the University of Copenhagen and developed a specialisation in Maya hieroglyphic writing. This was around the turn of the millennium, which was a fascinating period in the field, with numerous discoveries on how the writing system functioned and on the grammar of the inscriptional language. My next main station was located at the Department of Linguistics of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. There, I developed an interest in language structures on a more global scale and started to work on historical linguistics using computational methods. Computational historical linguistics is a very rapidly developing field with exciting opportunities to participate in new developments. My last major station before coming to Kiel was Leiden University, where I was Co-PI in an ERC project about relations among languages of the Americas.

Life beyond ROOTS: What do you like to do beyond your research?   
As I was looking for a photo of “the real me” for this page, I could not find a single picture without another family member in it, usually one of my three children. Family life is what I do a lot. Moreover, I like to play different musical instruments and I do various things on a hobby-basis, usually failing epically, but I have fun meanwhile, such as learning Chinese, playing chess or making wooden constructions at my summerhouse at Roskilde Fjord in Denmark.

Søren Wichmann is a postdoctoral fellow within the ROOTS subcluster ‘Conflicts and conciliation’ (link).

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

Max Grund awarded with the 2021 biennial Dr-Gregorius-Mättig Scholarship

Max Grund and Gerald_Grajcarek
Max Grund (left) and Gerald Grajcarek (right).

On Sunday, 26 September 2021, Max Grund, ROOTS doctoral candidate of the ROOTS subcluster Urban (link), was honoured with the biennial grant of the Dr.-Gregorius-Mättig-Stiftung for his PhD project “Kleinstädtisches Wirtschaften im Spätmittelalter / The Economics of Late Medieval Towns – Businesses and their Protection by the Use of City Books”. The award ceremony took place at a festive service in the St. Peter Cathedral of Bautzen.
The foundation awards its grant for excellent research in the regional history of Upper Lusatia. Founded in 1650 by the physician and alderman Gregorius Mättig (1585-1650) in Bautzen, the Dr.-Gregorius-Mättig-Stiftung supports pupils, students and the local library. It was one of the most important charitable foundations in premodern Saxony. After the liquidation of the foundation after WWII in 1949, it was re-established by descendants of Gregorius Mättig in 2007.
In his project, Max Grund evaluates the use of textuality in questions of economic practices. He examines different late medieval city books of Upper and Lower Lusatian towns by investigating entries, user groups and the marks of trust and mistrust within the texts of the books.

Max Grund

The 2021 Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) at Kiel University

Kiel Overview EAA

The 2021 Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA; link), the largest archaeological congress in Europe, took place in Kiel from September 6 through September 11. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS together with the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 (link) organised this meeting under the umbrella of the Johanna Mestorf Academy (link) at Kiel University. 

More than 2500 participants from 66 countries held presentations on the topic of “Widening Horizons”. Members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS organized seven sessions and presented more than 30 papers on results of their investigations on past socio-environmental-cultural connectivity. 

Within this setting, EAA President, Prof. Dr. Felipe Criado-Boado, pointed out that: “Kiel, as the venue for the EAA Annual Meeting 2021, symbolises the widening of horizons through the integration of natural and life sciences into archaeology, through the inclusion of the most diverse horizons between East, West, North and South, and through the development of new research centres that build on proven examples.” Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Karin Prien, described the central position that archaeology assumes in the research priorities of Schleswig-Holstein, and University President, Simone Fulda, emphasised the crucial role that archaeology plays in the internationalisation strategy of Kiel University. Climate change was also a crucial topic during the Annual Meeting of the EAA, leading to the adoption of a European “Kiel EAA Declaration” (link). 

You can view the opening ceremony of the Kiel Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists here, on the ROOTS Youtube Channel here

You can visit the EAA Kiel homepage at this link

First Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) – Research findings adopted as climate declaration

Archaeological excavations uncover human history layer by layer. The data on environmental and social developments sheds light on the impact of climate change (Photo by: Jan Piet Brozio)  On 6 September, the first Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate ChangeArchaeological excavations uncover human history layer by layer. The data on environmental and social developments sheds light on the impact of climate change (Photo by: Jan Piet Brozio)

On 6 September, the first Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) took place at Kiel University. The meeting was organised by Prof. Johannes Müller, the Speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, and Prof. Peter Biehl from the University of Santa Cruz (link) with the aim of discussing the status of the worldwide research on social archaeology and climate change. The summit was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the European Association of Archaeologists (link), which this year was organised by the Johanna Mestorf Academy from 6-11 September.

Forty-five international scientists and representatives of international organisations from the fields of archaeology, heritage conservation, and climate research took part in the meeting. With the interlinking of the numerous international stakeholders, the summit gained insights from the past that are relevant to current transformation processes and can also help us to better understand current transformation processes. The study of past climate events and societies are closely connected, as Johannes Müller explains: "There have always been significant climate events and people have always reacted to them. This can be proven by research. Parallels can be drawn to the present day – even with a long-term view over the millennia. Findings about climate change from the past and the consequences of such changes can also be helpful today".

By reconstructing past ways of dealing with climate change, two important insights could be gained for today. On the one hand, it was recognised that social balance provides the basis for the sustainable use of resources and the development of other forms of sustainable behaviour. Societies with higher social equality are in general better equipped to cope with the consequences of climatic stress in the long term than societies where social differences are great. Another finding is linked to the issue of mobility. Migrations are an integral part of human history, and changes in climatic conditions have repeatedly led to forced migrations. Various migrations can be traced for the last ten thousand years and shaped our world.

Climate change was also a crucial topic during the Annual Meeting of the EAA, leading to the adoption of a European “Kiel EAA Declaration”, which states that climate change endangers archaeological legacies. Climate-related forces affecting archaeological sites include coastal erosion, sea-level rise, droughts, floods, the drying of soils, such as peat, soil erosion, increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires, changes in weather leading to extreme heat, rainfall and storms, changes in vegetation and biodiversity, permafrost thawing and glacier melting. Accordingly, archaeological heritage management will face entirely new challenges. A rethink in many areas is necessary.

You can find the full press release in English and German here


Four films on the archaeology of Schleswig-Holstein on the ROOTS Youtube Channel

Cluster ROOTS Films

As part of the most recent EAA Annual meeting, which was held in Kiel on 6-11 September 2021, four short films were prepared to illustrate the archaeological heritage of Germany’s northernmost federal state of Schleswig-Holstein and the work that members of the Cluster of ROOTS undertake.
The four videos are now available on the official ROOTS Youtube channel (link).
We hope that you enjoy them and stay tuned for more video updates!

Landmarks of the North: Megalithic tombs and Bronze Age grave mounds

Megalithic tombs and Bronze Age grave mounds are the most visible remains of prehistoric times in the landscape of Schleswig-Holstein.
Megalithic tombs emerged as visual manifestations during the Neolithic period and represent collective burial rituals. At the transition to the Bronze Age, individual graves develop in the form of burial mounds. Both forms of monumental structures stand for great collaborative efforts. But while this practice was primarily for the community during the Neolithic, in the Bronze Age the focus turned towards the individual.
The film shows examples of these different burial forms, describes how they are being researched, and explains the conclusions drawn from the results.

Hidden treasures in the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea along the German North Sea coast forms an aquatic landscape with a rich archaeological heritage. Natural and human influenced dynamics and repeated catastrophic storm events have constantly reshaped the marshes and tidal flats throughout history, forcing the coastal communities to find strategies of adaptation to these changes. The tidal flats and young marshes conceal traces of medieval and early modern settlements and their cultural landscapes.
The film introduces you to the archaeological fieldwork carried out in the Wadden Sea and particularly on the small North Frisian island of Hallig Hooge. Here an interdisciplinary team investigates the early to late medieval settlement patterns as well as the causes and dynamics of the rise and decline of the early settlements on the tidal flats. Geophysical prospections and aerial drone-photography are coupled with geoarchaeological investigations and archaeological surveys.
In their research, the scientists are faced with a special challenge: due to the tides, the sea reveals the seafloor only for a few hours a day.

Archaeo:lab – introducing archaeological research to schoolchildrenCluster ROOTS: Archaeo:lab – introducing archaeological research to schoolchildren

How can we raise children’s interest in archaeological research? At the archaeo:lab, which is part of the school lab of Kiel University, we offer children the opportunity to work as archaeologists for an entire day filled with hands-on practice.
The film accompanies a school class visiting the archaeo:lab in order to explore the aspects of life in the Neolithic. First, they will map the outline of a Neolithic house printed, true to scale, on a large tarpaulin and interpret it. Then, they will sift through samples from an excavated fireplace for the remains of foodstuffs and identify what people ate in the past. Finally, they will detect different plant species by using microscopic pollen samples to get an idea of what the landscape looked like in the Neolithic.
The scientific methods that the students are introduced to are as close to reality as possible and they will learn to distinguish between facts and possible interpretations of their findings. In the end, they will have a better idea of what life in the Neolithic might have been like.

Haithabu and Danewerk: UNESCO world cultural heritage

The significant Viking Age sea trading venue Haithabu and the Danewerk border building are located at a historic narrow passage between the Schlei, a Baltic Sea estuary, and the North Sea lowlands, close to the Danish border in the very north of Germany. Between the 8th and the 11th centuries, the sites were located in the centre of the trading networks between North and West Europe, forming the core between Scandinavia and continental Europe.
During the entire Viking period, Haithabu was one of the largest and most important trading towns. In the 10th century, it was incorporated into the Danewerk defence system, which controlled the border country and the narrow land bridge between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
The film offers a glimpse into the Viking Museum Haithabu with jewellery and weapons from richly equipped tombs and other exciting findings witnessing local arts, crafts and trade. The film will show you the reconstructed Viking settlement on the historic grounds and tell you about heritage management, conservation strategies, and knowledge transfer.


School classes gain insights into life in the Prehistoric Age


At the pottery and social interaction station, the students document their excavation finds. The shards not only provide information about what kind of vessels the people of Schleswig-Holstein used in the Neolithic period, but also about the regions with which they were in contact (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

The archaeo:lab of the Kiel Science Factory (Kieler Forschungswerkstatt) celebrates its opening

The inauguration of the archaeo:lab of the Kiel Science Factory took place on Monday, September 13. Through excavations and experiments at the archaeo:lab, school classes from grades five to seven can discover how people lived in Schleswig-Holstein during the Neolithic Age as well as what their food consisted of and what their houses looked like. The archaeo:lab project is a collaboration  between the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Kiel Science Factory.
A sixth-grade class from the Käthe Kollwitz School Kiel visited the new thematic lab on opening day. They were welcomed by the prehistorian Professor Johannes Müller and the environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist Professor Wiebke Kirleis. They head the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University and are members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The research results and the everyday work of the scientists of ROOTS are directly incorporated into the concept of the archaeo:lab program.
“When designing the learning stations, it was important for us to not only convey the archaeological content to the schoolchildren, but also to give them an understanding of scientific work. We provide them with realistic insights into the field of research, which is often characterised by myths and adventures,” explains ROOTS spokesperson Müller. “From the specially created excavation field to the various archaeological finds and tools, everything is therefore as true to the original as possible.”
At the opening, environmental archaeologist Kirleis told the pupils more about her day-to-day research and what she sees as special about her work in archaeobotany. “The work is highly varied. In addition to excavating and obtaining borehole profiles, it involves sample preparation in the laboratory, analysing the finds under the microscope, and data evaluation on the computer,” Kirleis said. “It is fascinating to wash out 6,000-year-old grains from a soil sample. In this meadow, we are really looking into the Stone Age people’s cooking pots, we can tap into their daily lives in great detail, and even reconstruct ancient cooking recipes.”
The actual day of the visit then began with a ten-minute introductory lecture on the Neolithic Age by Dr. Katrin Schöps, research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) and head of the archaeo:lab. In small groups, the schoolchildren discovered the various stations on the basic human needs of housing, nutrition, clothing, the environment and social interaction. In the covered excavation area, for example, they searched for archaeological finds from which – in combination with experiments – they can draw conclusions about Neolithic life. In the process, the schoolchildren also learn from the excavated pottery sherds that it is not only possible to tell what kinds of vessels were used by people in Schleswig-Holstein 6000 years ago. From the sherds and with a bit of luck, you can even determine which regions carried out exchange. “I have always found archaeology fascinating, but I would not have thought that you could learn so many different things from the discovery of a single pottery sherd,” said one of the schoolgirls enthusiastically.

A visit to the archaeo:lab can now be booked via the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt website: here
The press release in German can be found here.

archaeolaborOn their visit day at archaeo:labor, the school children from grades 5 to 7 also learn how archaeologists find out what people ate in the Neolithic Age (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

At the pottery and social interaction station, students document their excavation findings (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

archaeolaborAt the pottery and social interaction station, the students document their excavation finds. The shards not only provide information about what kind of vessels the people of Schleswig-Holstein used in the Neolithic period, but also about the regions with which they were in contact (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

archaeolaborJohannes Müller, Director of the Institute for prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology of Kiel University speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, welcomes the students to the opening of the archaeo:labor in the lecture hall (photo: Kiel Research Workshop).

Before the students work hands-on at the learning stations of the archaeo:labor, they learn more about life in the Neolithic Age in an introductory lecture by IPN staff member and lab director Dr. Katrin Schöps (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

On the opening day of the archaeo:labor, school children from the Käthe Kollwitz School in Kiel learn more about the work as an environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist from Wiebke Kirleis (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).




Kieler Forschungswerkstatt
Katrin Schöps

Two new JMA Chairs: Charlotte Damm and Tim Kohler

JMA Chairs

Charlotte Brysting Damm and Tim Kohler recently joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as JMA Chairs. We are proud to introduce them to you and we look forward to their JMA tenure at Kiel. Welcome!

Charlotte Brysting Damm is the holder of an JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next four months until Christmas, 2021. She is a professor of archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology at the Arctic University of Norway, located in Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle.Damm
Born in Denmark, Charlotte first studied archaeology at Aarhus University. She then completed a Master of Philosophy Degree (MPhil) in ethnoarchaeology and a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, UK. Since 1990, she has worked in northern Norway, apart from two years at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  
While her PhD focused on the complex multicultural situation in Middle Neolithic Denmark, most of her later research has concentrated on northern hunter-gatherers. Although the majority of her published work concentrates on northern Fennoscandia, she has also done fieldwork in New Zealand, Botswana and Greenland and visited foraging groups in northern Thailand.
Charlotte’s main interests focus on the intersection between archaeology and anthropology, including past identities, multicultural and interregional interaction, rituals and cosmology as well issues relating to indigenous archaeology. She has led a multidisciplinary research group on early networking in northern Fennoscandia at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo and is currently a PI for a project on Stone Age Demographics.
While in Kiel, Charlotte will collaborate with colleagues in ROOTS and in particular with the subcluster Knowledge (link) in order to explore new avenues to address issues in hunter-gatherer archaeology.Damm

Tim Kohler is a holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next three months until Dec. 1, 2021. He comes from the USA, where he is a Regents Professor (emeritus) in Anthropology (archaeology) at Washington State University in Pullman. He is also an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute and a member of the ROOTS Scientific Advisory Board.KohlerTim while revisiting his University of Florida PhD alma mater on the occasion of an invited lecture (photo by: Tim Kohler, 2021).

Tim’s research has mostly centered on the US Southwest where he directed the Village Ecodynamics Project for almost two decades (link). This project has looked at many processes also central to various subclusters in ROOTS, including Inequalities, Conflict, Knowledge, and Socio-environmental Hazards. While in Kiel though he will be concentrating mainly on interacting with the ROOTS of Inequalities subcluster (link). One of his activities will be to set up a meeting for a project that has been recently funded by the US National Science Foundation, called ‘The creation and division of wealth and the long-term consequences of inequality: views from archaeology.” The first meeting for this project will be held at Oxford in November and Tim Kohler will be accompanied there by Tim Kerig, who will be representing the ROOTS subcluster on Inequalities. While in Kiel Tim will also be working on ways to formalize approaches to causation in archaeology, using in particular the rich datasets generated by the Village Ecodynamics Project on the relationships through time among population size, climate, wealth inequality, and violence in northern Pueblo societies.  
Another project in progress while he is here is editing a special issue of the Journal of Social Computing on a topic that overlaps with the ROOTS subcluster on Knowledge: “Evolution of Collective Computational Abilities of (Pre)Historic Societies.” Tim is lead author on the article introducing the issue, which will also include an article by ROOTS Speaker Johannes Müller on “Tripolye mega-sites: Collective Computational Abilities of prehistoric proto-urban societies.”
Finally, as time permits around these other activities, Tim is looking forward to getting to know as much as he can about the rich archaeology and history of the Schleswig-Holstein!KohlerTim Kohler (right) with some other members of the Village Project’s Community Center Survey, in Mesa Verde National Park (photo by: Tim Kohler, 2021)

Past, Present, Future: Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
The condition of sediments informs about environmental developments and human influences (Belauer See, Germany; Photo: W. Dörfler).

In order to discuss the global state of research on social archaeology and climate change, the Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) will take place at Kiel University in Germany on 6 September 2021. The meeting is linked to the Kiel Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), which will be organized this year from 6–11 September by the Johanna Mestorf Academy in a virtual format.

“The global consequences of climate change are omnipresent and have long since ceased to be a problem of the distant future” Kiel archaeologist Johannes Mueller and initiator of the summit explains. “However, the current discussion about the socio-ecological consequences of climate change often lacks a consideration of (pre)historical climate events and how the population of the time dealt with them. Yet, with the help of archaeological research, important lessons from these (pre)historical events can be used to better understand current transformation processes and build societal resilience” he adds.

The aim of the summit is to bring together international scientists and representatives of important international organisations in the fields of archaeology and heritage management to discuss and evaluate the contribution of archaeological research to understand the link between social, cultural, ecological and climatic change. The meeting will take place in the context of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and subsequent national and international strategies and initiatives.

Peter Biehl from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has launched the initiative together with Johannes Mueller points out “The aim is to highlight how archaeology, through the study of past adaptive behaviour, is able to enhance socio-ecological resilience of societies as well as their adaptive capacity to current climate change.” Furthermore, contributing to the understanding of the impact of climate change on archaeological and heritage sites as well as on cultural landscapes, museums, collections, and archives is also an important aspect of the meeting. The results of the summit will subsequently be summarised and published in the form of a declaration on the state of archaeological heritage and research effected by climate change.

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
Archaeological excavations worldwide like in Sultana, Romania, document the state of societies and the environment over millennia (photo: J. Müller).

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
The Wadden Sea like many of the world's landscapes, including their archaeological heritage, are extremely vulnerable to climate change (photo: T. Willershäuser, JGU Mainz).

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
Drilling lake sediments as part of an excavation opens up archives of environmental history (Sultana, Romania; Photo: J. Müller).


Find the German version here

Scientific contact:
Johannes Mueller johannes.mueller@ufg.uni-kiel.de (Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology)
Peter Biehl pbiehl@buffalo.edu (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)

Press contact:
Angelika Hoffmann ahoffmann@roots.uni-kiel.de (Research focus officer SECC/JMA)
The SACC summits logo (Kiel UFG, J. Cordts).







ROOTS presents at the 75 Jahre Schleswig-Holstein Celebrations


On Sunday August 22, Schleswig-Holstein celebrated its 75th anniversary with a civic festival and an official ceremony at Gottorf Castle. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS was also present and was represented by the archaeo:lab of the Kiel Research Workshop (Katrin Schöps) and the ZBSA (Ilka Rau). It was important for us to demonstrate the connection between ROOTS research and the public outreach activities based on it. For this purpose, there were also two hands-on activities on the topics of ceramics and landscape history. We got into conversation with many interested citizens about this and even our prime minister, Daniel Günther, took the time to inform himself about our offers for pupils and the general public.

ROOTS hands-on activities on the topics of ceramics

ROOTs meets Daniel Günther

Cluster ROOTS funds new interdisciplinary projects with 335,000 €

ROOTS interdisciplinary projects

In early spring 2021, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS invited its members to apply for funding in support of projects that apply innovative approaches to address overarching themes beyond single subcluster or disciplinary research topics.

On the basis of stringent selection criteria, which included novelty, methodology, interdisciplinarity, excellence in scientific approach, relevance in relation to the call, as well as collaborations and dissemination, five projects were selected for funding with the support of external reviewers from the eight applications. These projects will each be funded with up to 75,000 euros with a duration of up to 2 years. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS funds these new interdisciplinary studies on social, environmental, and cultural phenomena and processes that substantially marked past human development with a total of 335,000€. 

A presentation of these newly funded projects will take place during the next plenary meeting, scheduled for November 26, 2021. 

We look forward to the results of these investigations!


The following projects were funded in the framework of the 2021 ROOTS internal research grant call:

  • Project: “Food production pathways (FPP), dietary dynamics, and climate change in the southern Levant”. PIs: Cheryl Makarewicz, Ralph Schneider, and Henny Piezonka.
  • Project: “Between domestication and invasion: rethinking the socio-environmental ROOTS of crops, weeds and invasive species”. PIs: Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, Wiebke Kirleis, Eva Stukenbrock, Alexandra Erfmeier, Konrad Ott, Ben Krause-Kyora, Katrin Schöps, Jens Schneeweiß, and Guillermo Torres.
  • Project: “3DARK DEPTH - Describing, Discussing and Developing Analytical Research Knowledge of the Dark Earth Phenomenon in Theory and Practice”. PIs: Jens Schneeweiß, Eileen Eckmeier, Pawel Cembrzynski, Ben Krause-Kyora, Wiebke Kirleis, and Katrin Schöps.
  • Project: “Interlinking exchange: The search for communalities in prehistoric networks (Europe, W-Asia, N-Africa - 8000 to 1 BCE)”. PIs: Johanna Hilpert, Tim Kerig, Lorenz Kienle, Jutta Kneisel, Oliver Nakoinz, Matthias Renz, and Andrea Ricci.
  • Project: “The Forest Finns as a Model for the Early Slavic Migration”. PIs: Jens Schneeweiß, Magdalena Schmid, Vesa Arponen, Ben Krause-Kyora, Henny Piezonka, Wiebke Kirleis, Eileen Eckmeier, Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, and John Meadows.

Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions