Climate change and archaeology

During the last months, people from ROOTS engaged in many activities related to the current climate crisis. In order to face this crisis, archaeology can provide essential perspectives. The main conclusions of the Kiel SACC summit were disseminated through various media channels.

By taking a long-term perspective, archaeology can detect how climate change affected different societies and how they adjusted. We observe a link between sustainable economies and social factors. Societies with low social stratification tend to be more able to mitigate the effects of climate stress than more socially stratified societies. Furthermore, we observe that there were never abrupt, but always longer-term reactions, even to drastic climate events. A complex interplay of socio-ecological factors was always discernible. Typical reactions to climate change were, for example, the diversification of food use or migration.

Media coverage at the beginning of 2022

This message has recently been conveyed through various media. For example, Johannes Müller was interviewed in January 2022 by the German TV programme “alle wetter!” (Link available until January 2023). Moreover, Mara Weinelt, Wiebke Kirleis, Jutta Kneisel and Johannes Müller, all members of the Excellence Cluster ‘ROOTS’, were interviewed by a German science journal (Bild der Wissenschaft) on this topic. The ROOTS scientists provided distinct examples of different societies’ reactions to and consequences of climate change, such as the collapse of long-lasting structures, migration, innovation, or the diversification of subsistence strategies.

Kiel SACC: Summit Statement on the Social Archaeology of Climate Change

The Kiel SACC summit was held in connection with the EAA in August 2021 (link). During the summit, the experts discussed and evaluated the relationship between social, ecological and climatic change from an interdisciplinary perspective. The contribution of archaeology to the investigation of today’s climate crisis was identified by decoding past abilities to adapt. At the end of the summit, the participants formulated a joint declaration. They concluded that people have never been helpless in the face of climate changes, but have always developed creative solutions.

This declaration, financed by ROOTS and CRC 1266 (link), has now been published in February 2022 in a booklet in six languages. Thus, the important message of the SACC can be understood in English-speaking, Mandarin-speaking, French-speaking, Russian-speaking, German-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries and regions. A list of all 40 supporters of the declaration with their names, positions and institutions is also included in the booklet.


Find more information on SACC here
Download booklet here


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions