Testing hypotheses of socio-environmental hazard in fostering social inequality across Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe

ZentraleuropaDistribution and varying concentrations of 14C data per site for France and Germany between 3500 and 1500 BCE and the focused study areas (Source: Radon/Radon B, Kiel University).

This project links the research agendas pursued by the subclusters “ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards” (link) and “ROOTS of Inequalities” (link) and aims at building a coherent data base to empirically test hypotheses of socio-environmental dynamics in a trans-European perspective. It is a key aim to explore under the lens of socio-environmental connectivity how past societies have coped with climate and environmental hazards. Arguably, episodes of increased socio-environmental stress related to resource scarcity fostered social inequality and led to a decay of socio-environmental connectivity, possibly triggering migration.
The project focuses on the period between 3500 and 1500 BCE and compiles data about settlement structures and settlement intensities as well as burial rites and technical innovations. Furthermore, the database includes detailed regional climate reconstructions of precipitation and temperature changes, land use intensity, as well as a large number of 14C data from archaeological contexts as assembled in the RADON (link) and RADON B (link) databases hosted at the Institute of Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University.
Based on this data foundation, Social inequalities are calculated with respect to house size and household differences. This approach already provided estimates of social inequality both on regional up to global scale. The project focuses on several regions with high agglomerations of settlement records, also on a diachronic perspective. Hence, a transect from Central Germany, Alpine Foothills to Southern France is discussed. By comparing these regions, we can identify Late Neolithic to Bronze Age settlement dynamics and changes in settlement structures which probably differs on a regional level. These changes likely led to transformations of social inequalities, which may have also been interrelated by shifts in agricultural production. Additionally, these results are correlated with climatic and ecological data to evaluate the impact of environmental hazards and especially of the 4.2 kyr climate event.

Post-Doctoral researcher:
Ralph Großmann rgrossmann@roots.uni-kiel.de (Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ and ‘ROOTS of Inequalities’)
Principal investigators:
Mara Weinelt mweinelt@roots.uni-kiel.de  (Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’)
Johannes Müller johannes.mueller@ufg.uni-kiel.de (Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Inequalities’)


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions