Michaela Ecker granted with a prestigious DFG Emily Noether Project

Ecker Kalahari
Landscape in the southern Kalahari near Tsabong in Botswana. Stone artefacts are visible in the foreground of the image (photo: Michael Ecker).

On the Trail of Human Development in the Kalahari. In the framework of a newly approved DFG project, the member of ROOTS, Michaela Ecker, investigates the influence of climate change on the evolution of modern humans in Africa.

That Africa is the cradle of humankind is meanwhile scientifically proven. Fossil finds date the presence of Homo sapiens, today’s humans, to ca. 300,000 years before our time. However, much is still unexplained for the early phase of human development. What influence did climate change have on human development and what role did it play in the emergence of Homo sapiens as the only surviving species among many?

In order to get to the bottom of these questions, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has granted the archaeologist Dr. Michaela Ecker, of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University, and member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, 1.3 million Euros for the next six years. The funding is provided in the framework of the Emmy Noether Program, which enables outstanding young scientists to qualify for a professorship at an early stage by leading their own working group.
The evolution of humans in Africa is closely linked to environmental and landscape changes. “However, there is hardly any environmental data from terrestrial archives in Southern Africa, in order to understand the influence of this climate change on the biological and cultural evolution of Homo sapiens,” explains Ecker. The project “Kgalagadi Human Origins” begins here and focuses on reconstructions of past climate and environmental conditions at the investigated archaeological sites in the southern Kalahari basin within the border region of Botswana and South Africa.

“In this context, we are concentrating on the time period between 800,000 and 400,000 years before today,” states Ecker. “This was a time of extreme climate change, which is characterised by an increase in the number and intensity of glacial-interglacial climatic phases, i.e. cold and warm periods.”
In close cooperation with archaeologists from Botswana and South Africa as well as international experts from the USA and Great Britain, Ecker reconstructs changes in the flora and the seasonality of precipitation, which have led to the current very dry environment. “The results of this project contribute to our knowledge about human-environmental adaptations in times of severe climate change,” says Ecker.
The new interdisciplinary Emmy Noether group is networked with several institutes of Kiel University. Ecker works together with scientists from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, the Institute of Geosciences, the Institute for Ecosystem Research, and the Leibniz-Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research.

The project officially commenced on June 1st, 2021. The first field campaign is planned for this year, providing that the COVID-19 circumstances permit it.

Congratulations Michaela!


The original press release in German and English can be found here: Link

Project homepage: www.kho-project.com


Black Gold: Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations

Black Gold
As a by-product of research on social and agricultural transformations in the Late Bronze Age archaeobotanist Wiebke Kirleis together with her team has produced an educational film documenting archaeobotanical sample preparation.
The 11 minute short film shows the individual steps that each archaeobotanical sample has to go through – step by step and meticulously explained, understandable for pros and laymen alike. The advantage of bucket flotation presented here is that samples can be mudded near the excavation site – even in extremely shallow waters.  Another advantage: instead of a 10-litre bucket full of sediment, only a sample bag with a sip of water needs to be brought to the lab. At the Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory, the samples are washed, dried, and eventuelly sorted and determined under the binocular microscope.
With this educational film, there is a digital format is available that can be used to prepare practical archaeobotanical exercises and archaeological excavations at universities, and can also be used for museum education and in the archaeo:lab (link to ROOTS website and link to Forschungswerkstatt).
The search for old plant remains, i.e. archaeobotanical analyses, allows us to decipher the diet of the time and make statements about agriculture. In this case, the cooperation between archaeologists and archaeobotanists expands the knowledge about an archaeological site and the living conditions and makes it possible to understand how everyday life was organised at that time.
The film which comes in a German and an English version was made during an excavation in Dobbin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) under the direction of Jutta Kneisel. 

The English version:

The German version:


Find more information on the Botanical Platform here

Contact: Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis wiebke.kirleis@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Plague case 5000 years ago in Latvia: No evidence of an epidemic at the time

ancient DNA

Skull bones of the man who was buried in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. The research team has discovered the plague pathogen in these bones (photo: Dominik Göldner, BGAEU, Berlin).

A research team from Kiel University in Germany has found new clues to the evolution of the pathogen, based on DNA from a 5000-year-old plague case.

The plague, which caused a pandemic in the late Middle Ages, leading to an estimated 25 million deaths worldwide known as the "Black Death", is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), which occurs especially in rodents and can be transmitted to humans by fleas as well as from person to person. Recent studies have shown that the pathogen already infected humans much earlier, but how exactly it evolved, and when it became dangerous for humans are the subject of current scientific research. A team from Kiel University (CAU), in collaboration with the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schloss Gottorf, and the Institute of Latvian History of the Latvian University of Riga (LVI), has now discovered the genome of the plague pathogen in the remains of a man who lived in what is today Latvia around 5000 years ago. The analyses provide insight into the very early stages of the evolution of Y. pestis. Contrary to what was previously assumed, the results show that the bacteria already infected people at the beginning of the Neolithic Period, but probably had only a limited potential for infection, so that they could not yet spread in epidemic proportions. The team published their results today in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

The researchers examined the remains of four individuals who were all buried in the same place in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. "Previously, little was known about the hunter-fisher-gatherers who lived in north-eastern Europe at the time, and about their exposure to infectious diseases," explained coordinating author Professor Ben Krause-Kyora, biochemist and archaeologist at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at the CAU and member of the Clusters of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI), "ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies“ as well as in the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 „Scales of Transformation“ (CRC 1266). Using special analysis methods established in Kiel, the team investigated the ancient DNA from the human remains, such as teeth and bones, for bacterial and viral pathogens. They identified parts of the genome of Y. pestis, the plague pathogen, in a male individual.

Since after so many years the DNA in the bones is only present in small pieces, the scientists had to reassemble the genome of the bacterium from the individual fragments. They analyzed the reconstructed genome along with genetic information from more recent plague strains to find out where the Latvian strain comes from, and how and when it evolved. They dated the origin of this pathogen strain to the beginning of the Neolithic Period around 7000 years ago. The strain investigated is thus the earliest to date in the evolution of the plague pathogen. "Our estimate is around 1000 years earlier than previously assumed," said co-initiator Dr. Harald Lübke, researcher at the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schloss Gottorf, and member of the CRC 1266.

The starting point for the work was the scientific assumption that plague epidemics did already occur during the Neolithic Period. "We were looking for factors that enable pathogens to trigger epidemics in general. We wanted to investigate this in more detail, based on the plague pathogen," explained Krause-Kyora. "However, contrary to expectations, our data does not support the previous hypothesis of a pneumonic plague pandemic during this period. In contrast, our analyses suggest that this very early form of the plague pathogen was probably less transmissible, and possibly also less virulent, than later strains," added Krause-Kyora. Rather, the geographical and temporal distribution of the few prehistoric plague cases reported so far suggests individual so-called zoonoses, i.e., infections in which the pathogen was passed directly from animals to humans. The pathogen only later developed the potential to trigger an epidemic or even a global pandemic. "From an archaeological perspective, this finding is important because it suggests that infections with the plague bacterium did not lead to large-scale transformative social or political changes in the Neolithic," said Professor Johannes Müller, spokesperson of the CRC 1266, the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence, and director of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at Kiel University.

"The results contribute also to a better understanding of how zoonoses have arisen and continue to arise, and how this in turn can develop into epidemics and pandemics," said Professor Stefan Schreiber, spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence PMI, director of the IKMB and also director of the Department of Internal Medicine I at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel.

Research into ancient human DNA and old pathogens in general can also provide more information about modern diseases, such as chronic inflammatory diseases. While infections were a major challenge to the human immune system in the past millennia, due to living conditions such as hygiene and nutrition, nowadays it is more common for a dysregulated immune system to cause chronic inflammations. There could very well be an evolutionary link between the two aspects. "We can better understand modern diseases of the immune system and their origins, if we know more about the pathogens that used to be particularly challenging for the human immune system. Therefore, their research has long been an important focus in the Cluster of Excellence PMI," said Schreiber.

The project was supported by the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI), the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 "Scales of Transformation"; the archaeological research on the Riņņukalns site is part of the research project "Riņņukalns, a Neolithic freshwater shell midden site in northern Latvia and its significance for cultural development of the Eastern Baltic Stone Age" of the ZBSA in cooperation with the LVI; all funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

ancient DNAJawbone of the man who was buried in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. The research team has discovered the DNA of the plague-causing pathogen in this material (photo: Dominik Göldner, BGAEU, Berlin).

ancient DNA
The Ancient DNA Lab which is the specialized laboratory for ancient DNA, is part of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University (CAU). Its core is the cleanroom, which is needed to process the tiny amounts of highly degraded DNA that are typically found in ancient skeletal remains (photo: B. Krause-Kyora, Kiel university).

The Riņņukalns site, a Stone Age shell midden on the banks of the Salaca River near the outflow from Lake Burtniek (photo: Harald Lübke, ZBSA, Schloss Gottorf).


Find the German version here

Prof. Dr. Ben Krause-Kyora b.krause-kyora@ikmb.uni-kiel.de
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB)
Kiel University (CAU) and University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)

Original publication:
Susat et al.: A 5,000-year-old hunter-gatherer already plagued by Yersinia pestis. Cell Reports (2021). https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(21)00645-8 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109278

Oliver Nakoinz, new Professor for Quantitative Archaeology at Kiel University

NakoinzThe Kiel archaeologist, Oliver Nakoinz, has been appointed to a professorship of quantitative archaeology at Kiel University (photo: private).

Appointment strengthens research area at the Kiel Institute for Prehistory and Early History

The Kiel archaeologist and member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Dr. Oliver Nakoinz, has been appointed to an "außerplanmäßige" professorship for quantitative archaeology at Kiel University (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel). In addition to his merits in archaeological research and teaching, his international reputation in the field of spatial-statistical archaeology was particularly decisive for the appointment.

As a scientist in the Johanna Mestorf Academy of the Kiel Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Nakoinz is responsible for numerous projects. Among other things, his ground-breaking studies on spatial communication patterns in Celtic Southern Germany, which deal with the formation and networking of fortified Iron Age settlements, are to be highlighted. In addition, he heads the Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) as well as a modelling project in the Kiel Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1266 and, together with the University of Cambridge, a CRC project on the interaction between Northern Italy, Southern Germany and Northern Germany in the 1st millennium BCE. The renowned book series “Quantitative Archaeology and Archaeological Modelling”, published by Springer, was developed by Nakoinz.
“The appointment as a professor of quantitative archaeology strengthens the development of this research area”, remarks Nakoinz happily. Quantitative archaeology addresses the structures, which are more or less concealed in archaeological data. These structures are made visible with mathematical and statistical concepts and, together with archaeological theories, generate new knowledge about the past.

One area of quantitative archaeology is pathway research. In this context, terrain data is used to calculate how a route between two locations should be theoretically conceived. “If you compare these theoretical paths with empirical evidence, such as burial mounds that can indicate paths, you can validate how well different models are adapted to reality. From this, one can infer which aspects were considered in prehistory when selecting a route,” explains Nakoinz. The models can convey the meaning of the empirical results. “This enables us to more easily understand why people in prehistory acted in a certain way,” explains the archaeologist.

For decades, quantitative archaeology has been implemented at Kiel University and, in the meantime, Kiel has developed into a leading location in this field, which is reflected, among other things, in the Initiative for Statistical Analysis in Archaeology Kiel (ISAAK) and in the newly founded Center for Interdisciplinary Data Science (CIDS). The participation of quantitative archaeology was also decisive for the approval of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the SFB 1266, two scientific collaborative research projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

NakoinzA Bronze Age tumulus at Danish Wahld in Schleswig-Holstein. Such burial mounds, which are assumed to be located in the vicinity of prehistoric paths, can serve as criteria for theoretical models in pathway research (photo: Oliver Nakoinz).

Simulation of prehistoric settlement sizes, which illustrates different developments for different locations (photo: Oliver Nakoinz).


Find the German version here

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Oliver Nakoinz oliver.nakoinz@ufg.uni-kiel.de (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology)

Press contact:
Angelika Hoffmann ahoffmann@roots.uni-kiel.de (Research focus officer SECC/JMA)

2021 ROOTS Retreat


The 2021 ROOTS Retreat took place in digital form on 27 and 28 May 2021 with the participation of more than 80 members of the cluster. The purpose of this meeting was to strengthen communication between the research units by focusing on the interlinkage groups and the overall research questions of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The six exciting interlinkage groups address overreaching themes, defined as “Mobility and Migration”, “Routes and Networks”, “Resources and Economy, “Ideology and Identity”, “Waste/Abfall”, and “Past-Past & Past-Present”. The intensive discussions, which took place during the retreat, enabled the participants to undertake joint research and plan co-authored papers or other publications, including booklets on specific topics. We expect that these discussions will lead to cutting-edge approaches to unveil and reconstruct past socio-cultural-environmental connectivities.

Stay tuned for more developments of the interlinkage groups.

Classical Archaeology at Kiel University launches new Master's programme in the winter semester

Classical Archaeology MasterThe Temple of Hercules (2nd century AD) in the heart of modern Amman is the most impressive remnant of the ancient city of Philadelphia (photo: Patric-Alexander Kreuz, Kiel University).

The material culture of antiquity is the subject of the new single-subject Masters programme "Classical Archaeology" at Kiel University. With the start of the coming winter semester, students will receive a theoretically and methodologically reflected, contextual approach. The aim of the new Master's programme offers to students the opportunity to build a profile in the breadth of research and knowledge transfer in the subject of Classical Archaeology by deepening their knowledge of monuments, applying sophisticated analytical methods and interpretative research approaches, as well as in expanding their practical skills and experience.
This single-subject Master's programme complements the already established two-subject Master's programme in Kiel. With its orientation, it considers the central focal points of classical archaeological research in Kiel and ensures a close interlocking of research and teaching.
With several sub-projects, Classical Archaeology is also involved in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as well as in the Collaborative Research Centre TransformationsDimensions. Students can thus gain insights into or actively participate in research activities at various stages of their careers. `

More information on this new Master´s programme can be found in the press release (in German) here

Classical Archaeology Master
Villa dei Misterii, Pompeii (photo: Annette Haug, Uni Kiel).

Johannes Müller awarded with Humboldt Fellowship for Swedish-German Cooperation

Swedish-German Science Cooperation
Johannes Müller from the Institute for Prehistory and Early History at Kiel University, Germany. Prof. Müller is speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Center "Scales of Transformation". (Photo: Sara Jagiolla UFG Kiel)

Award for Johannes Müller

The Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) has awarded Johannes Müller, Speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the 30th Humboldt Fellowship for outstanding German researchers. The award is granted annually on the recommendation of Swedish universities to researchers who have fostered the research cooperation between Scandinavia and Central Europe and presented excellent scientific results on topics of Swedish and German research. The RJ is an independent Swedish foundation with the aim of promoting the humanities and the social sciences.

Müller was nominated for the award by the University of Gothenburg, with whose Institute of Historical Sciences the Kiel researcher maintains scientific contacts on the archaeology of the Scandinavian and European region. Archaeological research in Gothenburg is characterized by projects on past societies that use novel methods to investigate the human-environment interaction of past societies. It thus has a similar focus to the successful Kiel archaeological collaborative projects.

"Archaeology in its holistic and long-term historical perspective, especially as a humanities and natural science, offers the opportunity to better understand the challenges of the modern world," Müller explains the scientific context. "Especially in collaboration with Gothenburg, we have shown that modern historical and archaeological research must answer questions about the sustainability of societies, conflict resolution and social inequality in an interdisciplinary way. We know that awareness of the past always has a political dimension. Instead of focussing on foreignness, violence, and disintegration, it is precisely the new results of archaeological research that make us aware that diversity, integration, and the desire for peace have always been crucial to human beings and human societies."

Since the beginning of April, Johannes Müller has now been at Gothenburg University to intensify the joint research work within the framework of the existing Swedish-German cooperation and to participate in several working groups. The research fellowship covers all costs of his six-month stay.

Swedish-German partnership with tradition

The University of Gothenburg is a partner in the Cluster of Excellence "ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies" and in the Collaborative Research Center 1266 "Scales of Transformation: Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies." The collaboration will also extend to Müller's project on the archaeology of vision, funded by the European Research Council under an ERC Synergy Grant, which closely cooperates with the Gothenburg ERC Synergy project "From Correlation to Interpretation of Prehistoric Societies."

How close the cooperation between German and Swedish archaeological and anthropological research has always been is also demonstrated by the CV of the name bearer of the Kiel Johanna Mestorf Academy. The Kiel archaeologist Johanna Mestorf (1828-1909), one of the first museum directors in Germany and the first woman in Prussia to be awarded the title of honorary professor at Kiel University, had become acquainted with essential aspects of scientific archaeology in Sweden and had worked in both Scandinavian and German-speaking countries.

Indeed, structural aspects of science systems are important to Müller in addition to issues of content. "In Germany, around 92 percent of scientists and scholars at universities currently work on fixed-term contracts. This two-tier society in science is the major deficit in Germany's otherwise positive development as a science location. I am curious to see whether Scandinavian universities offer possible solutions on this issue," says Müller. Overall, the stay in Gothenburg is intended to be a window to further develop institutional and scientific networking between Kiel and Gothenburg.

Swedish-German Science Cooperation
It is inherent to archaeology that it is anchored in the cultural and the natural sciences alike. Excavations, such as that of a 5300-year-old megalithic tomb in Wangels, Schleswig-Holstein, form the basis for the database that major projects in both Gothenburg and Kiel work with. (Photo: Sara Jagiolla UFG Kiel)

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller
Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology

Find the German version here

Let's get digging!

Exciting discoveries in the earth: schoolchildren will be able to carry out experiments on all aspects of archaeology at Kiel University's new archäo:labor.

Lets get diggingYoung archaeologists find real pottery shards in the archaeo:lab's excavation site. For this purpose, the team has recreated vessels with patterns from the Neolithic and destroyed them (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

How did people live in the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age? What did they eat? What did their houses look like? And where were the toilets? Schoolchildren from fifth to seventh grade can find the answers to these and many other questions at Kiel Science Factory's archäo:labor, a laboratory for schoolchildren run jointly by Kiel University and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN). After the Easter holidays, the new specialist laboratory team will begin conducting its archaeological experiments in collaboration with the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

"Ab in die Grube" (let's get digging) is the name of the project on the grounds of the Botanic Gardens at Kiel University. Next to the Kiel Science Factory building, an excavation site is ready and waiting for the school classes. School children will go on a discovery tour of the earth set out under a tent roof to protect the young researchers and any finds from the weather. They will use trowels, sieves and planning frames just like Kiel University's experts on their digs. "We have buried a series of finds in the excavation site for the schoolchildren to discover and identify," explained IPN researcher Dr Katrin Schöps, who is responsible for the archäo:labor. The team has filled the excavation site to the brim with detailed finds. The experts made their own Stone Age-style ceramic vessel and then smashed it to create fragments that are as authentic-looking as possible for the specialist laboratory.In one corner of the excavation site, a fireplace was filled with charred plant remains, while in another the fabric remains of pieces of clothing were placed, worn by Bronze Age people who lived in imaginary moorland close by.

"By conducting experiments on all the finds, the school children will be able to draw conclusions about life in the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age, so between around 4,100 and 500 BCE. In the Neolithic Age, hunters and gatherers became settled farmers and herders," explained archeobotanist Dr Walter Dörfler of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University. In the Cluster of Excellence, researchers from the humanities and natural sciences as well as the life sciences and engineering work closely together. They are studying the social, cultural, ecological and economic aspects of past societies.

"The results of our interdisciplinary research form the basis of the content and structure of the archäo:labor," said Dörfler. Five modules were created covering the basic human needs of housing, food, clothing, environment and social interaction, which the school classes will work through in small groups. "The module on social interaction considers the fragments of pottery and the function of ceramics in the past and present," explained Dörfler. The unearthed pottery pieces not only reveal the types of vessels people used in Schleswig-Holstein, they are also evidence of interaction with other regions.

Pollen samples are analysed in the module on the environment. As explained by pollen expert Dörfler, schoolchildren can draw conclusions about certain plant species from these analyses. What did the landscape look like at that time? Was the house in a forest, heathland or arable land? And what does that signify for the food people ate?

Schöps is particularly excited about the module on housing. For this module, the team printed a large-scale outline plan of a Stone Age house found during an excavation. Dark marks on the ground are indications of pillars and walls, fireplaces and waste pits. "The children will have no luck finding a bathroom here," laughed Schöps. "The bathroom question always comes up."

Documentation is the most important task for any young archaeologist. "Regardless of whether this is during the dig, during the experiments or when working under the microscope: observation notes are the be all and end all for experts," said Dörfler and Schöps. "Of course, primarily our work is about making exciting discoveries, but we also document, scrutinise and critically analyse the finds." This is what the everyday life of the university researcher entails. The modules have already been tried and tested within the framework of teacher training sessions and now await the arrival of the schoolchildren.

For the time being, the programme offered by archäo:labor is geared towards the fifth to seventh grades of community and grammar schools. Programmes for higher grades are currently being developed.

Author: Jennifer Ruske

Information and contact:
Tel. 0431 / 880-5916


This article appeared on the Uni Zeit #106. You can find the link to the German version of this article here

Eileen Eckmeier – New ROOTS Professor

EckmeierWith the summer semester 2021, Eileen Eckmeier joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as the new ROOTS professor for Geoarchaeology and Environmental Risks.
A short presentation of Eileen Eckmeier appeared on the last issue of Kiel University Uni-Zeit:
“As a geographer specialising in soil geography and geoarchaeology, I research the relationships between humans and the environment as well as soil and landscape development on various spatial and temporal scales. An important aspect of this research is on changes in soil properties caused by climate change and land use. Current problems include deterioration of soil quality in areas used for farming as well as desertification of what was once fertile land. I am interested in demonstrating the extent to which this affected prehistoric societies. I am also studying the impact of environmental conditions on soils and how changes in soils are connected with the development, maintenance and even abandonment of settlement structures or inhabited areas. Spatially, my research is focused on the Eurasian loess landscapes and steppes, the Near East and the African savannah.”

Welcome to Kiel and ROOTS!

Short vita:
Eileen Eckmeier, 45 years old, born in Neuss. Since April 2021: Professor of Geoarchaeology and Environmental Risks at Kiel University. Previously Professor of Physical Geography specialising in Soil Geography at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich). 2007: Doctoral degree at the University of Zurich.

Wadden Sea Project on Terra X

Wadden SeaFor the Terra X series, a new episode will broadcast a documentary on “Ungelöste Fälle der Archäologie - Verlorene Welten” (“Unsolved Cases of Archaeology - Lost Worlds”) on 14 February 2021. In search of submerged sites and empires, the TV troupe also visited the Southern Wadden Sea area of North Frisia, off the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Here an interdisciplinary team with ROOTS participation 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, aerial drone-photography are coupled with geoarchaeological investigations and archaeological surveys.

Wadden Sea

This Terra X documentary (in German) is already available online here

If you want to know more about the Wadden Sea Project you can contact Bente Majchczack, associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and member of the subcluster ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards.

Ideas and interaction: the 2021 Clusterrat Retreat


On Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22, the members of the ROOTS Clusterrat gathered for the 2021 clusterrat retreat. With a group of up to 32 participants, the retreat aimed to reach a common understanding on the progress of ROOTS after two years as well as to develop perspectives for 2021 and beyond. The retreat produced a large number of concrete and inspiring suggestions to foster cooperation between and across the subclusters on the main research approaches and questions of ROOTS. These outcomes will form the basis for major lines of future work within ROOTS, including the next cluster retreat. 

Due to the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, the retreat convened in virtual spaces. In the process, participants were invited to maximise interaction by experimenting with new digital tools and video conference experiences. This included, for example, conducting discussions in smaller groups in various breakout rooms, using virtual boards to single out major points of discussion, and informally meeting in the evening in virtual spatial rooms for relaxed discussion and chatting. The evening was also enlivened by Ignacio Mundo, the JMA Chair of the winter term, who played his Asturian bagpipe from his sunny garden in Mendoza (Argentina) as well as by the talented guitar player Vesa Arponen. The setting offered the participants both a safe and inspiring virtual space for creative interaction. The experience will be of extreme value for the preparation of upcoming large retreats of all members of ROOTS. 

For this meeting, we were supported by Ms. Christiane Zerfass with her extensive experience in moderating team events. We would like to thank all the participants of the retreat for the inspiring discussions. Thanks are extended to the organising team, and in particular to Romy Plath and Andrea Ricci in supporting the organisation of this virtual event in such a fine manner. 

Here you can see some impressions of the two-day event (documented by Tine Pape):RetreatRetreatRetreat

Obituary – Johannes Bröcker († 19.01.2021)

Johannes Broecker
Professor Dr. Johannes Bröcker, long-standing director of the Institute for Regional Research at Kiel University, passed away much too early on January 19, 2021 after a serious illness at the age of 70.

Johannes Bröcker was born in Kiel in 1950 and studied economics in Freiburg im Breisgau and Kiel. In 1983, he earned his doctorate at Kiel University. His dissertation dealt with economic integration and international trade in Europe. In 1992, he habilitated in Kiel with a thesis on numerical multi-regional equilibrium analyses. In his research, questions of regional redistributions always played an important role. In 1993, Johannes Bröcker accept-ed a professorship for macroeconomics and spatial economics at the Technical University of Dresden. In Dresden after the reunification, he played a central role in establishing the Institute of Transport and Economics at the “Friedrich List” Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences. In 2000, he returned to Kiel, where he took on a Profes-sorship in International and Regional Economic Relations and the management of the Institute for Regional Re-search.

In research and teaching, Johannes Bröcker was an outstanding personality. His research interests focused, in particular, on empirical regional and foreign trade economics. He became internationally known for his work on the measurement of trade barriers and the calculation of spatial general equilibrium models. He also worked on questions of economic growth, distributional effects, resource depletion, and climate economics. Johannes Bröcker was also always interested in historical questions. Thus, he scientifically dealt with the history of German re-gional economists and the contributions of German spatial economic theorists to the development of spatial economics. In particular, he examined the questionable role of German regional economists during the National Socialist era.

Johannes Bröcker was active in the Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes" and after his retire-ment in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In addition to his involvement in the successful application, he worked in the cluster on questions of measuring social inequality in ancient societies. In particular, he succeeded in explaining the problems of inequality measurement in simple terms and in an exemplary way to both young researchers and economic laymen in the cluster.

Johannes Bröcker will leave a big gap both scientifically and personally. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife and family.
German Version
Professor Dr. Johannes Bröcker, langjähriger Direktor des Instituts für Regionalforschung der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, ist am 19. Januar 2021 nach schwerer Krankheit im Alter von 70 Jahren viel zu früh verstor-ben.

Johannes Bröcker wurde 1950 in Kiel geboren und studierte Volkswirtschaftslehre in Freiburg im Breisgau und Kiel. 1983 schloss er seine Promotion an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel ab. In seiner Dissertation beschäftigte er sich mit ökonomischen Integrationsprozessen und dem internationalen Handel in Europa. 1992 habilitierte er sich in Kiel mit einer Arbeit über numerische multiregionale Gleichgewichtsanalysen. Dabei spielte auch immer Fragen nach regionalen Umverteilungen ein gewichtige Rolle. Johannes Bröcker trat 1993 eine Professur für Makroökonomie und Raumwirtschaft an der Technischen Universität Dresden an. Er hat dort nach der Wiedervereinigung eine zentrale Rolle beim Aufbau des Instituts für Wirtschaft und Verkehr an der Fakultät Verkehrswissenschaften „Friedrich List“ gespielt. Im Jahr 2000 kehrte Johannes Bröcker nach Kiel zurück und über-nahm dort einen Lehrstuhl für Internationale und Regionale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen und die Leitung des Instituts für Regionalforschung.

In Forschung und Lehre war Johannes Bröcker eine herausragende Persönlichkeit. Seine Forschungsinteressen galten insbesondere der empirischen Regional- und Außenhandelsökonomik. International bekannt wurde er mit seinen Arbeiten zur Messung von Handelsbarrieren und zur Berechnung räumlicher Allgemeiner Gleichgewichtsmodelle. Er beschäftigte sich aber auch mit Fragen zu ökonomischem Wachstum, Verteilungswirkungen, Ressourcenverbrauch und Klimaökonomik. Johannes Bröcker war immer auch an historischen Fragen interessiert. So hat sich wissenschaftlich auch mit der Historie der deutschen Regionalökonomen und den Beiträgen der deutschen Raumwirtschaftstheoretiker zur Entwicklung der Raumwirtschaftslehre beschäftigt. Dabei hat er insbesondere die fragwürdige Rolle deutscher Regionalökonomen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus beleuchtet.

Johannes Bröcker engagierte sich in der in der Graduiertenschule „Human Development in Landscapes“ und nach seiner Pensionierung im Exzellenzcluster ROOTS. Neben seinem Mitwirken bei der erfolgreichen Antragstellung hat er sich im Cluster mit Fragen zur Messung sozialer Ungleichheit in alten Gesellschaften beschäftigt. Dabei gelang es ihm insbesondere, sowohl Nachwuchsforscherinnen und Nachwuchsforschern als auch ökonomischen Laien im Cluster, die Problematik von Ungleichheitsmessung in einfachen Worten und exemplarisch nahe zu brin-gen.

Johannes Bröcker wird sowohl wissenschaftlich aus auch menschlich eine große Lücke hinterlassen. Unser tiefes Mitgefühl gilt seiner Frau und seiner Familie.

People in ROOTS: Sofia (Sonja) Filatova

Sonja Filatova

The ‘People in ROOTS’ series proceeds with an interview of Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, one of the postdoctoral fellow of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Last summer, you began to work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your research here?
I am involved in the subcluster Dietary ROOTS within the project ‘Genetic Variation in Ancestral Crops’ (link). This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between ancient plant geneticists, molecular biologists and archaeobotanists. We aim to investigate the origin and diversity of cultivated rye (Secale cereale L.) from the perspective of the genome of rye as well as the history of its cultivation. Our main archives are remains of desiccated rye that were used as part of the isolation of half-timbered houses in Central Europe from the Middle Ages until early modern times. As an archaeobotanist, I investigate the botanical remains in these archives to collect information on the physical properties of rye, to specify the human practices that defined its cultivation, to gather relevant information about the immediate surroundings where rye grew, and to look for potential signs of pathogens. My results will provide the historical and archaeobotanical context that is required for a holistic interpretation of the genomic data. Within ROOTS, this study will contribute to a better understanding of how humans and the environment have shaped each other through time by zooming in on the interplay between ourselves and cultivated rye.
More broadly, what are your main lines of research?
I am an archaeologist by training with a specialisation in archaeobotany. Broadly speaking, my main interests in the field of archaeobotany lie in the interactions between humans and plants and how the remnants of these interactions can be used to study past plant domestication, plant economy, food culture, and environment. As an archaeologist, one of my interests focuses on methodological questions concerning processes of deposition, the formation of archaeobotanical archives and how these processes reflect human behaviour and events of deposition. As an archaeobotanist, I am further interested in understanding the complex history of plant management and cultivation practices. Plants have often been viewed as static “natural objects” that can simply be manipulated according to the needs of humans, but as we now understand that plants are in turn able to “manipulate” us, this view has started to change. The development of rye enables an excellent case study on the association of plants and humans through time. Rye initially grew as a weed in wheat and barley fields and acquired traits of domestication via a process known as Vavilovian mimicry rather than selection through human action; it was eventually cultivated thousands of years after its initial appearance.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) in July 2016. During my studies, I specialised in archaeobotany, but I was also trained in the archaeology of the Mediterranean and Northern Netherlands and I participated in a wide array of fieldwork projects, including archaeological excavations, geoarchaeological coring campaigns and ethnoarchaeobotanical studies. In November 2016, I moved to Kiel and started my PhD within the framework of the ‘Collaborative Research Centre 1266: Scales of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ (link). My dissertation focussed on the study of archaeobotanical remains from Kakucs-Turján, a Bronze Age settlement located in modern Central Hungary. The research itself included fieldwork at Kakucs-Turján and a great amount of archaeobotanical lab work that involved the identification of seeds and fruits. Furthermore, I could learn more about the identification of wood charcoal, which has broadened my perspectives on archaeobotanical remains as well as my skills within the field of archaeobotany. I completed my dissertation in December 2019 and defended it in March 2020. In July 2020, I joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as a postdoctoral fellow.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
There is a long list of things that I enjoy doing! For example, I like spending time in my kitchen, experimenting with fermentation, baking, and cooking. I love eating good food and drinking good beverages. I enjoy being lazy on the couch, playing video games, watching a film or series, or listening to music. I am also an active and adventurous person, doing yoga, taking hikes, and travelling close to home as well as to remote destinations. Above all, I like to combine these activities in the company of my partner, family, and friends.
Sonja Filatova is a postdoctoral fellow with the ROOTS subcluster ‘Dietary ROOTS’ (link).

You can contact her at: s.filatova@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Enthusiasm, Excellence and Elections: the 2020 ROOTS Plenary Meeting

ROOTS Plenary Meeting 2020On Friday, December 11, the annual ROOTS Plenary Meeting took place. Due to the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, the meeting convened virtually. With the participation of up to 110 attendees, the ROOTS development of 2020 was reflected. In his report, the ROOTS speaker, Johannes Müller, illustrated how, despite the difficult situation, field and laboratory work took place as well as workshops, colloquia and other public events, which were held hybrid or virtually under the changed conditions. Furthermore, both popular and scientific publication formats were established and printed. He especially thanked the ROOTS PhDs, PostDocs and Young Research Group Leaders for the high level of their commitment and engagement. The interlinkage groups and the joint discourses on social, environmental and cultural connectivity are being pushed forward with full steam. The highlight reports of the individual Subclusters, Platforms, Reflective Turn Forum and Young Academy were enthusiastic. A true palette of diverse activities emerged, ranging from material analyses in the technical laboratories to palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in the Alps.
In the second part of the general meeting, the members elected the new speaker team and the members of the board for the next two years (see below). With an overwhelming majority, Ilka Parchmann and Wolfgang Rabbel were respectively elected and re-elected as the co-speakers as well as Johannes Müller as the speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The individual board members were confirmed in their positions or newly elected.
During the third part of the plenary meeting, the introduction of the new members and their perspectives for ROOTS followed with enthusiasm and impressive research inputs.
Longer than expected, the meeting ended after more than 4 hours, with best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!
Many thanks are extended to Romy Plath and Andrea Ricci for organising the virtual event in such a fine manner.

The results of election can be viewed here.

ROOTS Plenary Meeting

ROOTS Doodle

Gerda Henkel Grant awarded to ROOTS members Marta Dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a in 2004 (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)

Congratulations to Marta dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt, members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link) and ‘Dietary ROOTS’ (www.cluster-roots.uni-kiel.de/en/about_roots/subclusters/diets), for their new project grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation (link) on high-resolution palaeoecological studies at Tall Zirā'a, Jordan (ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a).

Tall Zirā'a is a key archaeological site in northwest Jordan, located where the Wādī al-'Arab descends to the great depression of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. As a consequence of uninterrupted settlement activity over the last 5000 years, from the Early Bronze Age until the Islamic Period, a 20 m-thick archaeological stratigraphy accumulated at Tall Zira'a. In the centre of the tell, a spring-fed travertine sequence is preserved. The analysis of this archive is the focus of this new project that combines the study of the archaeological record with high-resolution palaeoenvironmental data.

The project ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a has been developed in collaboration with Dieter Vieweger, director of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman (link). This institute is in charge of excavations at the site. A field campaign is planned for spring 2021. This will focus on drilling the travertine sequence and searching for palaeoenvironmental archives in the surrounding landscape. Overlapping sequences of the travertine deposition and additional samples from the tell layers and the surrounding landscape will be the objects of multi-proxy analyses in the labs of Kiel University. Here the samples will be dated and investigated with palaeobotanical methods and stable isotope analyses.

The presumed continuity of the travertine deposition and its proximity to the settlement makes it an excellent archive of Holocene Levant environmental history. Palaeobotanical analysis of plant remains (pollen/NPPs, phytoliths, macroremains) from the travertine sequence is expected to deliver a high-resolution record of settlement activity and Holocene vegetation history at Tall Zirā'a. Stable isotope analysis combined with facies studies of the travertine sequence is expected to result in a high-resolution palaeoclimate record concerning the precipitation for the region. All records, which can be directly connected to existing palaeoenvironmental data from the surroundings, will provide promising data to yield a better understanding of the environmental history since late prehistory in a landscape known as the Holy Land in the bible.

For further information, please contact Dr. Marta dal Corso mdalcorso@ufg.uni-kiel.de or PD Stefan Dreibrodt sdreibrodt@ecology.uni-kiel.de by email.  
Additional details about the project can be found here

Tall Zirā'aPotential of prospected archives of human-environmental interrelation at Tall Zirāʿa

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)

Radio Interview with Bente Majchczack on the Archaeology in Wadden Sea

Bente Majchczack

Bente Majchczack, member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the subcluster ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards, will present his Wadden Sea Project in an interview during the radio program “Moin! Schleswig-Holstein - Von Binnenland und Waterkant“, NDR 1 Welle Nord (link), on Tuesday, November 24, between 7 and 10pm.

You can follow the program online here

3rd North German Stone Age Round Table

Stone ageStudying lithic artefacts together

On November 27th from 10am-3pm, the 3rd North German Stone Age Round Table organised by members of ROOTS subcluster Knowledge ROOTS and the B1 and C1 projects of the CRC 1266 will take place in a BigBlueButton room hosted by Kiel University.
The North German Stone Age Round Table brings together about 20-30 experts every year on the Friday before the 1st Advent weekend. Young and experienced scholars from higher education, research, museum, and government departments who are interested in Stone Age topics or work on current research projects, theories, museum projects, and theses related to the Stone Age of Northern Germany (Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin) meet here. In particular, this informal meeting is intended to provide an opportunity for discussion, exchange, and networking, which is why the lectures are explicitly kept short in order to provide sufficient time for questions and thoughts.

After Rostock (2018) and Wilhelmshaven (2019), the Stone Age Round Table was supposed to take place at Kiel University in 2020. However, due to the current provisions for containing the pandemic, the meeting had to be converted to an online format. At present, 10 lectures (see programme) covering topics from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age and 22 participants from seven institutions are registered. Interested colleagues are welcome to attend and may contact Sonja B. Grimm (sonja.grimm@zbsa.eu) or Moiken Hinrichs (mhinrichs@roots.uni-kiel.de) for further details.

The program of the Round Table is available here

DFG grant awarded to ROOTS member Chiara Thumiger

Celio Aureliano, De morbis acutis et chronicis, Amsterdam, Wetstein, Rudolph & Gerard, 1722

Congratulations to Chiara Thumiger, member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and research associate in the Subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link), for her new project grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) on ‘Mental Health in Late Antique Medicine: Caelius Aurelianus on Mental Disorders’.

The investigation that Chiara will conduct as a PI in the next three years concentrates on the history of concepts, representations and methods of management of mental health and mental disorder in Antiquity. This research is pursued by focussing on the work of Caelius Aurelianus, a fifth-century AD North African (Numidian) medical writer belonging to the Methodist tradition. Caelius Aurelianus produced a major nosological work in Latin, which contains extremely rich material for a history of ancient medical thought on mental health.

The aim is to comprehensively analyse the development of medical ideas about mental health in the work of this important author, who has not yet received the focused scholarly attention that he deserves. The project will explore the diseases of mental import that Caelius Aurelianus describes (the classic ones – phrenitis, mania, furor and melancholia – as well as those that rather show his innovative approaches) and highlight the larger theoretical questions that he poses when it comes to mental and bodily health, to the causation of mental diseases, and to therapeutical possibilities. It is expected that this research will decisively contribute to current historiographies of ancient medical cultures, filling an important gap in the studies of ancient medicine.

In the framework of this project, a call for a doctoral research position (m/f/d) has just been posted (deadline: 31 Dec 2020): link
An interview with Chiara is available here: link and you can contact her at: cthumiger@roots.uni-kiel.de

Ignacio Mundo, JMA Chairholder (Nov 2020-Feb 2021)

Ignacio MundoIgnacio Mundo is the holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next three months until February 3, 2021. He comes from Argentina, where he is an Adjunct Professor in plant biology at the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo at Mendoza as well as an Adjunct Researcher of CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina) at the dendrochronology lab IANIGLA (Argentinean Institute of Snow, Glaciers and Environmental Sciences).
Ignacio studied forestry at the Faculty of Agronomical and Forestry Sciences of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina). After completing his forestry degree and during his PhD and post-doc at the dendrochronology lab IANIGLA, he focused on the application of dendrochronological techniques for the study of disturbances in Patagonian forests of Southern Argentina. He has been mainly interested in studying fire regimes related to human influence and climate variability and its consequences on forest dynamics. He has used dendrochronological methods to reconstruct the occurrence of disturbances over the last 500 years, implementing annual resolution from scars and other wood traits. In addition, dendrochronological methods have allowed him to better understand the influence of climatic variability on the growth of Patagonian species and forest decline processes.
Ignacio MundoIgnacio Mundo

Furthermore, he also participated in regional reconstructions of temperature, river streamflow and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), a climate forcing that plays a major role in climate variability in the higher latitudes of South America. During recent years, he has been interested in developing an innovative dendrochronological technique called blue light reflectance (blue intensity) in tree rings as a proxy of wood density. In the framework of this research effort, he has collaborated with European colleagues in an inter-comparison and calibration density study, also adjusting the technique for Patagonian conifers.
In parallel, he has developed interdisciplinary research with Argentinean archaeologists since 2009, developing dendroarchaeological studies on shipwrecks for the first time in Argentina. The purpose of this interdisciplinary research is to provide dendrochronological dating for the construction and provenance of wooden shipwreck remains from the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries found on the South Atlantic coast in the Buenos Aires, Chubut and Tierra del Fuego provinces.
As the holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Ignacio will offer classes on dendrochronology for PhD candidates and he will also collaborate in research activities within the Hazards subcluster during the next months.Ignacio Mundo


You can contact him at: iamundo@mendoza-conicet.gob.ar

Is our visual sense manipulated? ERC Synergy Grant awarded to Johannes Müller

Together with scientists from the universities of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and Brighton, Great Britain, Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist at Kiel University (CAU) and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, has been awarded a grant for an innovative research project, which will be funded by the European Research Council (ERC) of the European Union over the next six years with around ten million euros.

Under the title "Material Minds", the scientists want to investigate the link between material culture and human activity from the Paleolithic Age to the Middle Ages in different forms of society. They assume that "materiality", i.e. everyday objects and the built environment, plays a role in our knowledge processing that is comparable to that of language.

"Through their design and effect, objects embody standards and ideas, but also our traditions," explains Müller. "Seeing" is not something objective, but rather changeable. It depends on the contexts in which we live, but also on the power relations that determine us. Standardized visualization determines the mind and can serve as a means of exercising power".

The basis of the project is a database that depicts visual and perceptual behavior in different social and historical contexts. In a pilot study, the researchers investigated the visualization of ceramics and monuments of prehistoric European societies with the help of so-called eye-trackers, among other things, which are used to capture the gaze. They found that obviously very different, standardized eye movements are generated, depending on what is socio-ecologically constitutive for societies. In fact, they recognized neurological changes that not only influence 'seeing', but normalize it. From this observation, the relevance of the project for contemporary societies can be deduced. It examines material culture and representationalism as areas of danger and opportunity and explores the question: Is our vision manipulated and if so, how?

Over the next six years, the international team of researchers will conduct numerous case studies for prehistoric and ethnoarchaeologically ascertainable contemporary societies of different character. They expect fundamental results on questions of social research, historiography and art appreciation. Archaeologist Müller explains: "The project focuses on the potential for action of reification in world history. This is of great relevance, especially in today's world, where communication takes place less and less via writing and where perception plays a key role in digital technologies, as we can see from the current pandemic debate".

The interdisciplinary research project, which is funded by an ERC Synergy Grant and involves not only archaeologists but also a philosopher and a neurologist, combines the life, cultural and natural sciences in a new way. "With archaeology, a science is integrated which, like no other, explores material culture also in its temporal dimension. With neurology, the connections between visualization and brain development can be investigated. And with modeling philosophy, an implementation of both paths of knowledge with a socially comprehensive claim is envisaged", notes archaeologist Müller from the Kiel Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology.

The proposal entitled: "XSCAPE: Material Minds: Exploring the Interactions between Predictive Brains, Cultural Artifacts, and Embodied Visual Search" has successfully passed a three-stage review process and is the first ERC Synergy Grant for Schleswig-Holstein ever. A total of 438 applications were submitted, 35 of which were selected for funding, corresponding to an approval rate of eight percent. Four scientific teams are involved in this project, which will be funded with almost ten million euros over six years, including 2.2 million euros for the CAU. Two of the teams are from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas Spain. They are led by Luis M. Martinéz and Felipe Criado-Boado, who is also responsible for coordinating the project. The other two teams are located at the University of Sussex, Great Britain, under the leadership of Andy Clark, and at the CAU under Prof. Johannes Müller.

ERC Synergy Grants are the only funding instrument of the EU that allows collaborative research without thematic restrictions. Together with the relatively long funding period of six years and a generous budget of ten million euros for a maximum of four teams, it makes it one of the most sought-after funding instruments in Europe and worldwide. However, only outstanding researchers who jointly devote themselves to a project that leads to discoveries at the interfaces between established disciplines and to substantial progress at the frontiers of knowledge are eligible for funding. Only very few applications fulfill these requirements, which is why ERC Synergy Grants are among the most prestigious awards in science.

You can read the German version of this press release: here

  The ERC is linked to field research in different parts of the world. For example, investigations in the Indian-Burmese border region are being continued, which have already been conducted by Kiel University in recent years. The picture shows archaeologist Johannes Müller, one of the principal investigators of the proposal, during an interview (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

ERC also investigates the visualization of architecture. The picture shows the door of a house in a village in the southeast Indian mountain region. The scientists want to decipher the effect of coded abstraction, here originally combined with elements of "head hunting" (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

  Objects from prehistoric times, such as these rich furnishings from the Bronze Age, are examined for their visual impact using eye-trackers (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

Eye tracking will play a central role in the ERC project. In a pilot study, corresponding processes were applied to the so-called Bell Beaker ceramics (approx. 2400 BC) Eye tracking processes will play a central role in the ERC project. In a pilot study, corresponding methods were applied to the so-called Bell Beaker ceramics (ca. 2400 BC). (Photo: Felipe Criado-Boado, Santiago de Compostela).

To the press release of the European Research Council (ERC): here

Additional information on this project can be found also here


Presentation by Henny Piezonka on long term hunter-gatherer histories in Siberia

Hunter gatherer histories in Siberia

Prof. Henny PIezonka, PI of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and professor of Anthropological Archaeology at Kiel University and will present the results of her work on long term hunter-gatherer histories in Siberia at the University College Dublin “Hunter Gatherer Research Group” Autumn Seminar Series 2020.

Her presentation “Hunter-gatherers in N Eurasia: Transcontinental connectivities from the deep past to the present” will take place on Wednesday, November 4, 1-2pm (GMT).

The seminar will be hosted via ZOOM.
To register or for further information, email ucdhuntergatherers@gmail.com

All are welcome!

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.  

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


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:


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.


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!


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

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.

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


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!

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


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

People in ROOTS: Lisa Shindo

Lisa Shindo

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Lisa Shindo, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Lisa, you began your work last December in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Within the subcluster “ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards”, my research aims to identify the nature, intensity and temporal variations of the ancient uses of wood and their impacts on forest resources in the Southern French Alps, as well as to investigate their relationships with climate variation and the restitution of environmental hazards. For this purpose, I use and develop methods of dendrochronology applied to living trees and past timber over the last two millennia. Moreover, at Kiel University I will set up a dendroarchaeological research laboratory and develop research projects in collaboration with the other members of ROOTS. For example, we will cross-reference different supports carrying environmental and climatic information in the long-term in order to identify environmental hazards.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am a dendrochronologist, specialized in woods used by humans, and I study tree-ring thickness (the concentric circles you see when you cut a tree) in order to date the time point of the death of the trees and to reconstruct the environment in which the trees lived. Dendrochronology is a discipline at the crossroads of human and social sciences (history, archaeology, ethnology), biological and environmental sciences (ecology) and fundamental sciences (mathematics and statistics): it therefore has a multidisciplinary perspective by nature. Thus, an interdisciplinary dialogue is fundamental to describe the history of wood exploitation, reconstruct exchanges between different environments, and identify climatic, ecologic and human hazards within tree-ring series. My research strategy is based on both altitudinal (up to 2100 m above sea level) and climatic gradients (Mediterranean to mountain climate) in order to better understand the evolution of wood use and our heritage in terms of forest landscapes.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied Art history, Archaeology and Archaeometry in France (at universities in Paris, Bordeaux and Dijon) and during my two master’s degrees, I carried out internships in many European dendrochronological laboratories. In 2016, I completed my PhD in archaeology and ecology at Aix-Marseille University with a dissertation on “Timber and forest management in the Southern French Alps: dendrochrono-ecology and archaeology”. After my PhD, during a short stay at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (University of Arizona), I was interested in wood provenance issues and data conservation (databases). Then, during a contract with the French CNRS, I worked on very old dead trees, whose carbon content was analysed at annual resolution with regard to climatological questions. In parallel, during free-lance activities, I conducted dendrochronological analyses for several archaeological sites and buildings. This allowed me to acquire new data that nourishes my reflections within the framework of various research programs (at CNRS and other university affiliations) with which I am still associated.
In my current ROOTS position, I appreciate the freedom we have been given to build diverse collaborations, and to have the time to analyse, combine and reflect on my data.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to discover Kiel and its region, its historical buildings and museums, concerts and festivals, as well as to experience boat trips, gastronomic specialties (I particularly liked “bratwurst” during the cold months!) and to go strolling. I am also learning German in order to better understand the new culture. Lastly, I like to meet my friends and family to share my discoveries in Germany with them.
Lisa Shindo is a research associate in the ROOTS subcluster “ROOTS of Socio-environmental Hazards” (link).
You can contact her at: lshindo@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Myette Guiomar


The new ROOTS Social Inequality Forum

Social Inequalities Forum

A new forum for interdisciplinary and inspiring discussion on all aspects of social inequality now complements ROOTS activities. Intended as a loose, but interrelated, sequence of events, the ROOTS Social Inequalities forum will not only bring together guests and members of ROOTS and an interested audience, but it also aims to engage the topics in a more discussion-oriented format. At the kick-off meeting on January 30, Prof. Christian Jeunesse (University of Strasbourg) presented his ethno-archaeological work on settlement structure and burial rites in Sumba, Indonesia. Followed by a lively discussion in a relaxed atmosphere, the new format proved to stimulate scientific dialogue and new insights on past social inequality.

The next ROOTS of Inequalities Forum will take place on Monday February 24 (from 4 to 6pm) with two talks:

  1. Sabine Reinhold, Natal’ja M. Chairkina, Karl-Uwe Heußner, Dirk Mariaschk (Berlin and Ekaterinburg): „Elche, Schlitten und rätselhafte Holzkonstruktionen: Zur Archäologie in den Torfmooren des Urals“
  2. Ljubov‘ Kosinskaja, Ekaterina Dubovceva, Henny Piezonka (Ekaterinburg and Kiel) on “Forts, pots and people: New results on Stone Age hunter-gatherer socio-economic systems in Western Siberia."

Followed by a discussion.

For more information please click here

ROOTS Inequalities Forum

Videos of the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum award ceremony and presentation of the “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” project by Johannes Müller

4th SAF Research Awards

The research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe,” was awarded the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum (SAF) Research Award for the category “Research”.
The coordinator of the project, Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, presented the research results at the award ceremony on the December 14 2019 in Shanghai.

The video of the presentation of Johannes Müller can be viewed here:

All other project presentations as well as the opening ceremony of the event can be viewed directly on the YouTube channel of the Shanghai Archeology Forum – click here

Other links:

For the full press release (in German) please click here
For more information on the “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” project click here
For more information on the Shanghai Archaeological Forum please click here

Copyright information:
Photo by Jing Zhi-Chun, SAF

People in ROOTS: Nicolas Lamare

Nicolas Lamare

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Nicolas Lamare, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

First of all, welcome to Kiel! Nicolas, 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?
I am member of the subcluster “Urban ROOTS” that investigates urban agency and perception, in other words, how people built cities and how cities shaped people. My project aims to investigate ancient cities from the time of the Roman Empire through the end of Antiquity in the provinces of North Africa, today the Maghreb. During more than six centuries of history, cities were enlarged and transformed so deeply that the way they looked and the way people lived in them completely differ. Specifically, my research addresses questions regarding the way cities were planned and organized as well as the importance of elites in funding and decisions about the transformation of public spaces. Moreover, it tackles issues related to building legislation, the social organization of cities, and adaptation to climate changes. One of the crucial aspects is concerned with the study of the environmental context of cities in accordance with the overall aim of ROOTS. For the project, a selection of well-known sites will be studied, but I am also already in the process of launching a new cooperation project with Tunisian archaeologists in order to obtain first-hand data from the field.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am an archaeologist, who specialises on the Roman and late antique period in the Mediterranean region. In particular, I am interested in urban contexts of North Africa. For my PhD research, I investigated one specific sort of building of Roman cities: the monumental fountains. These monuments were connected to many different aspects of the cities such as hydraulic networks, sculptural decorations, and construction funding. I am specialized in urbanism and architecture, which means I work with plans and technical drawings, focusing on the alterations of buildings through time and their relation to changes of cultural and social practices, for instance, in houses or baths. I am increasingly interested in the daily life of common people. This topic gained interest among scholars a few decades ago, whereas the early steps of Mediterranean archaeology essentially looked for spectacular objects and buildings, which belonged to the wealthiest people. Instead, I like to look at dirt, noise, and crowded conditions, which of course intrinsically characterised life in ancient towns and cities.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?I was mostly trained in France, where I studied in Rennes and joined the Sorbonne (Paris IV) for my Master (2006) and my PhD (2014) in archaeology that was published this year. After completing my doctorate, I held teaching positions in Toulouse and Amiens in 2016 and 2017. During these years, I also moved a few times: I received research grants for periods of study at the École française de Rome, at Brown University, and at the DAI in Berlin. Moreover, I have additionally become more acquainted with Germany since 2017, when I joined the Meninx Archaeological Project for fieldwork in Tunisia led by colleagues of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In 2018, I was awarded a DAAD research grant, which I spent at the Free University of Berlin, where I continued to investigate the role of water in late antique cities. For over ten years, I have also been involved in different French fieldwork projects abroad, for example, in Haïdra (Tunisia), Labranda (Turkey), and Halaesa (Italy).

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?   
I like to go to the cinema and to the theatre – that for the cultural part! When I arrived at Kiel, I immediately acquired a bike as a good adopted German: I have already enjoyed biking around the city and along the seashore. And I have to say that I appreciate the landscape and even the weather, which both remind me of my native Normandy!

Nicolas Lamare is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Urban ROOTS” (link).
You can contact him at: nlamare@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Paul Scheding

People in ROOTS: Tim Kerig

Tim Kerig

After meeting Chiara Thumiger (link), the “People in ROOTS” series continues with an interview of Tim Kerig, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

First of all, welcome to Kiel! Tim, you began to work a couple of months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Oh yes, of course. My research in ROOTS is focused on the archaeology of social inequality. Former US president Obama once identified social inequality as the “defining challenge of our time” – just think of the climate consequences to come, who is going to pay for them? I address similar questions for the archaeological past, where social inequality sometimes also must have been a “defining challenge”, at least for some parts of the population. I work on the origin and evolution of social differences between human beings. I am interested in both social differentiation that is the function of inequality for a society and in social inequality, asking for the political consequences of inequality in a society. Social inequality is really a ROOTS topic: social inequality has deeply shaped our world and it has very deep roots in our past. Moreover, it is a very useful perspective not only for societal but also for environmental questions – who profits from change and who pays for it? Or think about war, an extreme interesting example of inequality: some people are dying for others…

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am a European prehistorian working on temperate Europe. I follow a multi-proxy approach and try to develop indirect ways of measuring inequality by proxy, e.g., the time spent in crafting grave goods or square metres of living space in different households, sizes of military units, proximity to resources, and so on. Imagine a multi-dimensional space with a bundle of those proxies as axes: in such a space, one can neatly arrange all the different archaeological entities, cultures, sites, time slices, whatever… This should help us to explain where, when and why fundamental social changes occurred, e.g., the heritability of wealth and power. My theoretical background is in evolutionary theory as well as in analytical agency archaeology. I try to explain processes of the past to contribute critically to current discourses. To address social inequality, we also have to look at population numbers and productivity as well: first, one has to estimate the size of the cake – or of the total of the cast cakes of the Metal Ages – before we can look for the allocation of the share per capita or social groups.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied in Tübingen and Copenhagen and completed my PhD on Neolithic archaeology in Cologne. I held positions as an exhibition curator, an editor of books and a journal, and a field director. I hold postdoc positions in Cologne and at University College London, and at both places I was also the principal investigator of my own projects. I taught at eight universities, completed my habilitation in Leipzig on Neolithic economic systems, and I have been a fellow of the IGZA think tank close to the German metal workers union and at a Käte-Hamburger Centre in Berlin. Moreover, I am currently also excavating a cave and a tell site in Iraqi Kurdistan (actually a project on social inequality and agricultural choices and practices).

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
I enjoy being boring. I spend my leisure time with friends and with my wife and kids – eating, discussing, sometimes singing, drinking wine (too little champagne!) and every now and then we do exactly the same, but at a skiing cabin in Norway, where my family lives.   
Tim Kerig is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “ROOTS of Inequalities” (link).
You can contact him at: tkerig@roots.uni-kiel.de

Johannes Müller, speaker of ROOTS, awarded with the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum award for the research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe”


The research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe,” coordinated by Johannes Müller, has been awarded the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum (SAF) Research Award for the category “Research”.

The award will be given to Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, in December 2019 during the 4th Shanghai Archaeological Forum in Shanghai, China.

The Priority Program 1400 “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe”

The DFG Priority Program 1400 "Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation: On the origin and development of Neolithic large-scale buildings and the emergence of early complex societies in northern central Europe" began in July 2009. Coordinated by Johannes Müller, the project brings together 22 University Departments, Research Institutes and Heritage Management Offices in 16 sub-projects to investigate the emergence of monumental architecture in Neolithic and Chalcolithic contexts throughout different regions on the Northern European Plain.
The proceedings of the Kiel conference “Megaliths - Societies – Landscapes. Landscapes Early Monumentality And Social Differentiation In Neolithic Europe” (Eds.: Johannes Müller, Martin Hinz, Maria Wunderlich) appeared in 2019. This work  represents a milestone in understanding the complexity of this 5th and 4th Millennia BCE phenomenon.

For more information on the project click here

The Shanghai Archaeology Forum (SAF)

Shanghai Logo

Founded in 2013, the Shanghai Archeology Forum is a worldwide initiative committed to promoting research, harnessing the world's archaeological treasures, and protecting cultural heritage. The SAF Awards recognize individuals and organizations that excel in researching the human past through innovative, creative and excellent work, bringing forth new and relevant knowledge relevant to the present and future. The aim is to promote excellence and innovation in archaeological research, public awareness and appreciation for archeology, cultural heritage protection and international cooperation. The SAF Awards consist of two award categories, the Outstanding Field Discovery Award and Outstanding Research Findings. Nominations for the awards are held every two years and are judged by an international selection committee to the highest international standards of excellence and objectivity, with a maximum of 10 winners in each category. The project “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” belongs to the top ten project worldwide for 2019 for the Research Award Catergory.

For more information click here


People in ROOTS: Chiara Thumiger

Chiara Thumiger

This short interview with Chiara Thumiger, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, inaugurates a new series of presentations titled “People in ROOTS”. These presentations will offer us the opportunity to get to know the researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In the next few months, we will present new and already established members of the cluster and the research that they are conducting.

People in ROOTS: An interview with Chiara Thumiger

First of all, welcome to Kiel! You began to work a couple of months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Since August 2019, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to join the new research community of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In particular, I am a member of the subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link). My main contribution is concerned with the field of ancient medicine and science. In Kiel, I will conduct a project titled “Ancient Guts”, which investigates ancient views about nutritional processes in a broad cultural historical perspective, ranging from food consumption to digestion and excretion, from dietetics to eating disorders, from metaphorical ‘resources’ to the portrayal of human anatomy, and to economic aspects of eating as a fundamental aspect of human relations with the outside world.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
My interest in the history and narratives of human health and illness began earlier in my research. I have worked on ancient medical ideas about the relationship between the body and the soul, bodily and mental/spiritual health and mental disorder ever since. I find the way in which ancient thinkers framed the challenges of psychopathology and the possibility of ‘psychiatry’ as a caring practice still extremely valuable, often sophisticated and at times more insightful than our own. Whether one shares this view or not, the terms of discussion offered by ancient thinkers remain fundamental in the way we discuss these topics today. In many respects, this viewpoint still awaits exploration and recognition in current scholarship.
In addition, I have an interest in wider conceptions of life and health in the ancient world and their heritage – in particular, I have worked on animals and animal imagery in poetry as well as medicine.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
After completing my undergraduate studies in Italy, I moved to London to pursue a PhD in Greek literature at King’s College London. There, I decided that I wanted to work on Euripides’ Bacchae, the last play of the youngest of the three great tragedians of the fifth century, precisely because madness and what it means to have a sound mind is such an important topic in this play. After my doctorate (2004) and its publication (2007), I taught and researched a few more years in London, where I continued to explore the topics of mental life and view of self, and to reflect on how ancient poets and writers choose to depict subjectivity, “mind” and mental suffering in their works. In 2010, I had a unique opportunity that changed my perspective in a fundamental way: I was offered a position within a research group on the history of ancient medicine titled “Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body”, at Humboldt University, Berlin (directed by Philip Van der Eijk). After this experience in Berlin, I was a Research Fellow at Warwick University (UK) between 2015 and 2019, where I held a Wellcome Trust grant in Medical Humanities. In the Department of Classics, I joined a group of experts in ancient Greek and Arabic medicine directed by Simon Swain. My research project was concerned with the history of an ancient disease, phrenitis, an elusive syndrome which was still part of Western medicine until as late as the 19th century.   

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?
When I am not working or very much busy with my family and two daughters, which is most of the time, I love going for walks or jogging, travelling to new places and reading novels – as well as trying new cocktails!


Chiara Thumiger is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link).
You can contact her at: cthumiger@roots.uni-kiel.de

The first retreat of ROOTS

On 18 and 19 December, the members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS gathered at Sandbjerg Gods, near the city of Sønderborg (Denmark), for the first retreat of the cluster.


As a year has now elapsed since the official start of ROOTS, the main intention of this retreat was to foster further dialogue and generate ideas in order to strengthen innovative interdisciplinary cooperation within the cluster. All members of the cluster, and in particular the PhD candidates and the research associates who started their work in the last few months, were invited to introduce themselves and their research projects. Further presentations illustrated the research agendas of the six subclusters, the reflective turn, the three platforms and the young academy, and talks presented the progress of the projects that already started in 2019 and the planned activities for 2020 and the following years. Behind the formal presentations, participants discussed possibilities for the realisation of pilot projects integrating different disciplinary approaches, for example, by combining the study of ancient literary sources and biological studies for investigations on the emergence and spread of diseases, or by analysing cultural material products with cutting-edge equipment of material science to understand how knowledge was produced and transmitted.
Additional activities offered the opportunity for further lively exchange in a relaxed atmosphere. These included an excursion along the western shore of the Als Sund Fjord, with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, and with a visit to the site Nydam Mose, where the Iron Age Nydam boat was found.


As we look forward to the coming years of exciting investigations on socio-environmental-cultural connectivity of past societies, we wish to you and your families a happy festivity season and a peaceful 2020!

ROOTS Seasons Greetings


First Retreat of the Subcluster Urban ROOTS

On 9 and 10 November 2019, the members of the subcluster Urban ROOTS gathered in Hodorf (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany) for the first retreat of the subcluster. The retreat was an opportunity to welcome the newcomers among the team as well as to obtain insights into each member’s research. 15 participants, including PIs, associate members, associate researchers and doctoral candidates, presented the results of this first year’s research and outlooks into the research agenda for 2020. Intense discussion addressed interdisciplinary research topics and how to unfold present and forthcoming results in the frame of scientific meetings planned until 2022. These will include two international conferences, which will convene in June and October 2020 in Kiel, to address topics related to “Mental concepts of the city in picture and text media during the premodern age” (link) and “Urban neighborhoods and communities” (preliminary title). In addition, the publication of the proceedings of the first international conference “Urban Water”, which was organized by the subcluster in October 2018 (link), is expected for the beginning of 2020.

Furthermore, the subcluster is working on the creation of a “Studienzertifikat Urbane Kulturen”, which aims to offer a specialization on urbanity, including various disciplines such as archaeology, history, geography, arts and literature, to students of Kiel University.

Pictures by: Nicola Chiarenza

A new logo for the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS!


The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS unveils its new logo!

ROOTS, the cluster of excellence on socio-environmental-cultural connectivity in past societies at Kiel University, announces the launch of its new logo. Following on the heels of the first cluster research activities, the ROOTS logo will help to expand the visibility of its integrated interdisciplinary research. The logo was conceptualised and created over the summer months by Tine Pape, the graphic designer of the ROOTS cluster, in coordination with the Communication Platform. After this intensive period of development, the ROOTS Executive Board passed the new ROOTS logo during its last meeting at the beginning of October.
As the educational researcher and speaker of the ROOTS Communication Platform, Ilka Parchmann explains: “the new ROOTS logo aims to offer a recognisable sign that encapsulates the intrinsic aims of the research conducted within the cluster, and in particular its relevance in the exploration of past socio-environmental dynamics to understand current challenges and crises”.
This translates into a vision for the logo that “emphasises connections between the past and the present as it is read as a reversed ‘R’, symbolising the cluster´s inquiries into the past, and the double ‘Os’ figuring as an infinity symbol that links past and present”, as Pape recounts.
The logo is one of the first tangible products realised to implement the overall ROOTS visual language. The cluster corporate design reflects the large cluster identity, the multifaceted disciplinary theoretical and practical approaches, as well as individual research expertise. Looking forward, the logo will represent all future activities and events conducted in the framework of ROOTS, accompanying publications, presentations, public outreach activities and other scientific endeavours.

A broadcast by Buten und Binnen, with contribution by Johannes Müller, speaker of ROOTS

Johannes Müller, professor for prehistoric archaeology at Kiel University and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, contributed to a TV broadcast by the Bremener “Buten und Binnen” station on the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments of Northern Europe.

You can watch the broadcast (only in German) here

ROOTS at German Unit Day / ROOTS beim Tag der Deutschen Einheit

German Unity Day – Cluster of Excellence ROOTS participates!

With a big festival including numerous events for all citizens, Kiel celebrates German Unity Day on 2-3 October.

The Cluster of Excellence “ROOTS -  Connectivity of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies” together with the CRC 1266 is looking forward to welcoming you to their join-in activities. Exhibits will interactively present knowledge about current archaeological research projects conducted in the framework of the Johanna Mestorf Academy. For example, “The Diary of an Amber Trader” will illustrate how farming, animal husbandry, hunting and gathering affected the Neolithic population.

You can find us on 2-3 October between 11 am and 6 pm at Düsternbrooker Weg 2.
More information and the overall program of the event can be found here: https://mut-verbindet.de


Tag der deutschen Einheit – Cluster of Excellence ROOTS stellt sich vor!

Mit einem großen Fest für alle Bürgerinnen und Bürger feiert Kiel am 2. und 3. Oktober den Tag der deutschen Einheit. Auch der Excellenzcluster „ROOTS – Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten“ und der SFB 1266 freut sich auf viele Gäste bei ihren Mitmachaktionen an der Kiellinie.
Dazu werden Exponate gezeigt, die interaktiv Wissen vermitteln über aktuelle archäologische Forschungsprojekte, die im Rahmen der Johanna-Mestorf-Akademie durchgeführt wurden. So veranschaulicht „Das Tagebuch einer Bernsteinhändlerin“ beispielsweise, wie sich Ackerbau, Viehzucht, Jagen und Sammeln auf die jungsteinzeitliche Bevölkerung ausgewirkt haben.
Sie finden uns am 2. und 3. Oktober in Düsternbrooker Weg 2 | all-day
Mehr Infos und das gesamte Programm der Veranstaltung können Sie hier finden: https://mut-verbindet.de


Archaeology Teamwork at the Night of Science 2019

Archaeology beyond Indiana Jones and Lara Croft was the main theme of the actions of members of the Johanna Mestorf Academy, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology and the Institute for Classical Studies, who jointly participated in the Schleswig-Holstein “Night of Science 2019”. The events pertaining to archaeological sciences were held in Preetz.

night of science 2019

Visitors were offered the opportunity to both shape and produce their own pottery vessels with Neolithic pots as a basis and to practice drawing prehistoric potsherds. The interactive activities dealing with pollen analysis and crop plant identification as well as a 3D ceramic puzzle also attracted the attention of the visitors. Furthermore, three talks and a poster exhibition were presented on the topic “Formation of the environment – formation of social interaction”. The themes ranged from ancient house renovations in Pompeii to environmental influences and from prehistoric gender roles to the history of crops in prehistoric periods. The positive feedback of the visitors motivates us to also participate in the Night of Science in 2020.


Workshop “Quantifying Social Inequalities – New Proxies, New Methods. Possibilities and Limitations to Determine Social Inequalities in Archaeological Contexts”

The Workshop “Quantifying Social Inequalities – New Proxies, New Methods. Possibilities and Limitations to Determine Social Inequalities in Archaeological Contexts”, organized by Ralph Großmann for the Subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities, took place on October 7 and 8 2019 at the Kiel University.

In the framework of this workshop, invited speakers from Kiel, Germany, Europe and the USA illustrated the range of different approaches for the study of social inequalities in past societies. Case studies included investigations on the Copper Age cemetery of Durankulak (Arne Windler, Bochum) and the Middle Bronze Age urn cemetery of Dunaújváros-Duna-dűlő (Julian Laabs, Bern/Switzerland) with reconstructions based on the quantification of grave goods and the application of the so-called Gini Index. Other contributions presented multi-proxy analyses that combine bio-anthropological and archaeological data. These included studies on the southwest German Iron Age burial mound Magdalenenbergle (Ralph Großmann, Kiel), investigations on transformation processes in the Neolithic/Copper Age on the Iberian Peninsula (Marta Cintas Peña, Seville/Spain) and studies on the North Caucasian Bronze Age cemetery Kudachurt 14 (Katharina Fuchs, Kiel). Furthermore, Adrian Chase and Timothy J. Dennehy (both Tempe, Arizona/USA) presented results of quantified settlement differences and economic transformation processes of the Maya in Belize, Central America. Intense discussions followed contributions that, for example, linked life expectancy with economic prosperity (Nils Müller Scheeßel, Kiel), contrasted social inequality with the concept of diversity (Penny Bickle, York/UK), and showed alternative concepts to conventional, economically based approaches to inequality (Vesa Arponen, Kiel).

The workshop demonstrated the relevance of multiple proxy approaches as well as the importance of including not only economically based concepts but also alternative models that consider the “quality of life” in order to quantify social inequality.


“Who were the first farmers?” – BBC CrowdScience with contribution by Cheryl Makarewicz

Cheryl Makarewicz, professor for archaeozoology and stable isotope science at Kiel University and principal investigator of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, contributed to the latest BBC World Service CrowdScience series broadcast on the world's first farmers.
You can listen to the BBC broadcast “Who were the first farmers?” here

Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in Moscow, Russia

ROOTS in MoscowNikolaj Andreevich Makarov, president of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, guides the participants through an archaeological excavation conducted in the Grand Kremlin Public Garden, Moscow. The important role of archaeology in the creation of historical narratives became clearer during this conference excursion. Photo by: Johannes Müller

Future perspectives of archaeology were discussed at the international conference “Archaeology of the 21st Century”, which took place on 26–28 June 2019 in Moscow, Russia. The ROOTS cooperation partners of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute jointly organized this exchange of views that attracted participants from China, Russia and other regions of Europe. Although key actors from Latin America, Africa, Oceania and further Asian countries were certainly missing, intense and productive discussions took place on the future development of archaeology, especially regarding its political role in recent discourses. Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, presented ‘Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivities in Past Societies’ as a transdisciplinary initiative for innovative research perspectives and Claus von Carnap Bornheim, speaker of the Subcluster ROOTS of Conflict, illustrated research outlooks for the Baltic regions in connection with the world cultural heritage site of Hedeby.

ROOTS in Moscow
Sabine Reinhold (DAI-Referent for Russian Archaeology), Johannes Müller (ROOTS speaker), Svend Hansen (Director of the DAI Eurasia department), Nikolaj Andreevich Makarov (President of the Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Felipe Criado-Boado (President of the European Association of Archaeologists) happily gathered during a conference break.

NDR Interview with Henny Piezonka

NDR Interview with Henny Piezonka, Junior Professor for Ethnoarcheology at Kiel University and principal investigator of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

You find the interview and further information here.

ROOTS International Symposium (June 17-18, 2019)

The ROOTS International Symposium took place on Monday and Tuesday June 17 and 18 in the Audimax of Kiel University. Invited speakers from across Europe and South America gathered in Kiel to share ideas and open new research perspectives on the study of socio, cultural and environmental connectivity in past societies.

Talks included the reconstruction of the dynamics of social inequality in prehistoric societies, the production and transfer of knowledge, the understanding of agency and perception in ancient and medieval urban contexts, the investigation of the emergence of conflicts and their resolution in the Baltic Region during the late Iron Age and Early Medieval Period. Moreover, presenters discussed methodological advances for the study on human-environmental-interdependencies in the area of dendro-archaeology, as well as for computational biological analysis of various organic materials from prehistorical and historical contexts. The speaker of ROOTS, Prof. Dr. Johannes Muller, noted that the wide range of topics covered at the symposium brought innovative perspectives to existing research initiatives and were of great value to advancing the interdisciplinary emphasis of the cluster. The event was an important part of the initial phase of the seven-year cluster.

The program of the Symposium is available here

Text: Andrea Ricci
Photos: Tine Pape

2018 JMA Plenary Meeting and first ROOTS PIs Meeting (October 22, 2018)

On October 22nd, the 2018 Johanna-Mestorf-Academy Plenary Meeting took place with many members in attendance.

The meeting included updates from the speakers and the representatives on the numerous projects and initiatives that took place over the past year in the frame of the JMA. New members also introduced themselves and their research. Above all, this meeting was an opportunity to celebrate the success of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS!

Following the JMA Plenary Meeting, the first ROOTS PIs Meeting kicked-off seven years of interdisciplinary advanced research on how social, environmental, and cultural processes have substantially shaped past human development: the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS is now starting its activities!

01: Group Photo of the JMA Members (Photo: JMA ׀ Carsten Reckweg)

02: Group photo of the ROOTS PIs (Photo: JMA ׀ Carsten Reckweg)

Grünes Licht für ROOTS! (October 2, 2018)

Die Freude bei den Kieler Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern ist riesig. Ihr Antrag hat alle Hürden genommen und wurde am 27. September von der gemeinsamen Kommission zur Förderung eines Exzellenzclusters im Rahmen der sogenannten Exzellenzstrategie des Bundes und der Länder bewilligt. Von 1. Januar an bis (mindestens) Dezember 2025 werden die Wissenschaftler aus 15 CAU Instituten an sechs Fakultäten der Universität Kiel nun unter dem Label „ROOTS“ die „Wurzeln der Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten“ erforschen.

„Damit etablieren wir in Kiel einen Leuchtturm für die Erforschung prähistorischer, antiker und vormoderner Gesellschaften. Unser Profil breit gefächerter Interdisziplinarität mit starker Ausrichtung an der Schnittstelle von Kultur-zu Natur- und Lebenswissenschaften ist einzigartig und wurde von dem internationalen Expertengremium als zukunftsweisend bewertet“ freut sich Johannes Müller. Den prähistorischen Archäologen und Sprecher des neu bewilligten Clusters hatte die gute Nachricht um 2 Uhr morgens lokaler Zeit in Kyoto ereilt. Wichtiger ROOTS-Partner ist das Deutsche Archäologische Institut (DAI).

Drei Jahre Vorbereitungszeit hat es gekostet, die konzeptionellen Ideen für den Cluster in zahlreichen Diskussions-Runden zu entwickeln, interdisziplinär abzustimmen, auf ihre Machbarkeit zu überprüfen, eine Antragsskizze zu formulieren, und schließlich nach deren positiver Vorbegutachtung vor einem Jahr einen Vollantrag auszuarbeiten, der eine Forschungsagenda für die kommenden sieben Jahre umreißt. Zurückgreifen konnten die Antragsteller dabei auf ihre bisherige Erfahrungen in der Graduiertenschule „Human Development in Landscapes“ (GSHDL), im Rahmen der vorausgehenden Exzellenzinitiative seit 2007 bis Ende diesen Jahres gefördert, und deren schon vorhandene Strukturen. „Die großartige Unterstützung der Universität sowie des Landes schon im Vorfeld haben enorm zu unserem jetzigen Erfolg beigetragen“ sagt Annette Haug, Klassische Archäologin und stellvertretende Sprecherin des Clusters. Auch strukturell ist der Cluster auf die kommenden Herausforderungen gut vorbereitet. „Den Rahmen dafür bietet die Johanna-Mestorf-Akademie, eine gemeinsame Einrichtung der Kieler Uni zur Entwicklung ihres profilbildenden Schwerpunktes „Sozialer, Umwelts- und Kulturwandel“ (SECC)“, äußert sich Lutz Käppel, Gräzist und Sprecher von SECC zuversichtlich.

Die Mühen haben sich gelohnt: Geforscht werden kann nun mit verbesserter personeller und infrastruktureller Ausstattung. Unter anderem sollen mehrere Professuren neu eingerichtet und mit international herausragenden Experten besetzt werden. „Ein Plattformkonzept zur infrastrukturellen Entwicklung sieht z. B. den Erwerb eines speziellen GC-C-IR-Massenspektrometers vor, das die Analyse der Isotopenzusammmensetzung von Aminosäuren ermöglicht und so Aufschluss über die Ernährungsweisen früherer Gesellschaften  geben wird“, erläutert Wolfgang Rabbel, Geophysiker und ebenfalls stellvertretender Sprecher des Clusters.

„Schon jetzt können wir sagen“, so Lutz Kipp, Präsident der Kieler Universität, „dass der ROOTS-Cluster die Attraktivität und internationale Sichtbarkeit der Kieler Uni weiter steigern wird“. Dass vom neuen Cluster „spannende Ergebnisse zu gesellschaftlich hoch relevanten Themen zu erwarten sind, die sich auch hervorragend für den Wissenstransfer an Schüler und an die allgemeine Öffentlichkeit eignen“ ergänzt Ilka Parchmann, Fachdidakterin am IPN und Vizepräsidentin der Kieler Universität mit Ressort „Lehramt, Wissenschaftskommunikation und Weiterbildung“.

01: Seebohrung für Paläoumweltforschung und Rekonstruktion der Mensch-Umwelt-Interaktion, Vouliagmeni, Griechenland (Foto: Ingmar Unkel)

02: Ethnoarchäologische Studien in Sibirien, Russland (Foto: Christoph Engel)

03: Ausgrabungssituation in Vráble, Slowakei (Foto: Martin Furholt)

Excellence Cluster ROOTS Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity approved! (October 1, 2018)

On September 27th 2018, funding decisions have been made in Germany’s Excellence Strategy: The Excellence Commission, consisting of the members of the international Committee of Experts and the research ministers of the federal and state governments, approved 57 Clusters of Excellence to be funded from among the 88 proposed projects.

Among the successful cluster proposal is ROOTS! This new cluster of excellence will start on January 1st 2019 and until end of 2025 will explore how social, environmental, and cultural processes have substantially shaped past human development. The cluster is composed by an interdisciplinary network of 15 participating institutes and six faculties at Kiel University and external research institutes, including the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), the State Museum Schleswig-Holstein in Gottorf (ALM), the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön.


01: Excavation in Mang de Bargen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (Photo by: Jutta Kneisel)

02: Coring activities for palaeoenvironmental investigation and human-environmental reconstruction, Pellworm, Schleswig-Holstein (Photo by: Ingmar Unkel)

03: Group photo of ROOTS presenters together with Schleswig-Holstein Minister-President Daniel Günther und Prof. Dr. Friederike Fless (DAI) in Cologne after the DFG appraisal on May 30th 2018

04: ROOTS structure with ROOTS research areas (subclusters), supporting platforms, and involved disciplines





Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions