Current ROOTS activities:

2019 ROOTS excavation at Hundisburg-Olbetal, a fortified Bronze Age settlement

As part of the research activities of the ROOTS subcluster “ROOTS of Conflict: Competition and Conciliation”, a small archaeological excavation was conducted at the fortified Bronze Age settlement of Hundisburg-Olbetal (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany) in August 2019 under the direction of Maria Wunderlich. The excavation focused on the exploration of different areas and aspects of the site in order to document the state of preservation as well as the nature and dating of the internal settlement area. In fact, while 14C dates and data are already available for the ditch surrounding the settlement area, features of the inner settlement were only briefly documented by excavations in 2010 and 2011, which focused on the Funnel Beaker phases in Hundisburg-Olbetal.

Although the state of preservation of the features is poor due to past deep ploughing activities, our excavation could identify several interesting features, including numerous pit structures. These can be differentiated into big settlement pits, which were probably used for the disposal of waste, and possible extraction pits. The latter are characterized by a straight profile and are untypically narrow and deep. From these, only single finds were documented, while the large settlement pits provided abundant material, including pottery, animal bones and stone tools. In combination with the promising large amount of botanical remains retrieved from these pits, these finds will support a detailed interpretation and reconstruction of the socio-economic character of the site as well as its precise dating. At this stage, a preliminary evaluation of the finds suggests that the inner settlement dates to the Early Bronze Age. If confirmed by the radiocarbon dates, this dating would match the 14C dates retrieved from the ditch.
The analysis of the results of the successful 2019 excavation will therefore enable a better understanding of the Hundisburg-Olbetal settlement within the contexts of potential conflicts, as they are reflected in the fortification of this site.


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

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

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


People in ROOTS: 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:

People in ROOTS: 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:

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

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:

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

Investigation of the building history of the Insula del Citarista (I 4), Pompeii

From 21 September to 15 October 2019, a team from the Department of Classical Archaeology, Kiel University, consisting of two students of classical archaeology, Marcel Deckert and Katrin Göttsch, and the building archaeologist, Tobias Busen, undertook a fieldwork campaign in Pompeii, Italy.

As part of the ROOTS subcluster “Urban ROOTS: Urban Agency and Perception”, the aim of this study was to investigate the architectural remains of the insula I 4 (Insula del Citarista), a central block of the ancient city situated at the intersection of two of the main streets (Via Stabiana and Via dell’Abbondanza). The Insula del Citarista is primarily known for its wall paintings and the bronze sculpture of the Apollo Citarista found within the domus during the excavations in 1853.

The main activities of the 2019 building survey focused on the systematic collection of information on building materials, building techniques, mortars and plasters, as well as finding evidence for the succession of the various building measures within the houses and shops of the insula.

ROOTS in Pompeii

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.

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.


Socio-Environmental Dynamics along the Historical Silk Road

The edited volume ‘Socio-Environmental Dynamics along the Historical Silk Road’ discusses socio-environmental interactions in the middle to late Holocene, covering specific areas along the ancient Silk Road regions. The 22 chapters provide insight into this topic from various disciplinary angles and perspectives, ranging from archaeology, paleoclimatology, antiquity, historical geography, agriculture, carving art and literacy. Versions of most of the chapters were initially prepared for the international workshop entitled “The Rise and Fall: Environmental Factors in the Socio-Cultural Changes of the Ancient Silk Road Area”, which was convened by the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSHDL) at Kiel University during September 27-28, 2017.

The Silk Road is a modern concept for an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries facilitated and intensified processes of cultural interaction and goods exchange between West China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Coherent patterns and synchronous events in history suggest possible links between social upheaval, resource utilization and climate or environment forces along the Silk Road and in a broader area.

Studies in the volume indicate both that climate conditions significantly influence human socio-cultural systems and that the socio-culture systems are certainly resilient to climate impacts. The cross-cutting theme has been to reach beyond simple explanations of environmental or human determinism, but social resilience under environmental impacts.

Both the workshop and the volume were jointly sponsored by the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ at the Kiel University (GSC 208/2) and the Past Global Changes project (PAGES).

The publication is freely accessible online via the publishing house Springer, but can also be purchased as printed versions: here

Yang, L., Bork, H.-R.,  Fang, X., Mischke, S., 2019. Socio-Environmental Dynamics along the Historical Silk Road. Springer-Nature, Cham, Switzerland. 535 Pages. ISBN 978-3-030-00727-0

Urban ROOTS: Lecture Series

Bridging the gap: Urbanity between past and present

The lecture series brings together both historical and modern perspectives on the roots of contemporary urbanity in past societies. In each session, two talks followed by a panel discussion address and discuss one of the various topics of historical and modern urbanity, as, for example, infrastructural challenges of urban communities, urban lifestyles, urban planning, as well as aspects of migration, housing or religion.

First Lecture: The lecture series opens on 22 October 2019, 6:15 p.m. Event
Location: Kiel University, CAP 2 (Audimax) / Hörsaal A (on 29 October at Hörsaal C!!)

Everyone who is interested in this topic is warmly welcome to join the lecture series.

Please note that the lecture series will be held in German with the exception of the lectures on 12 November 2019, which will be held in English.

Download Progamme here
Download Poster here


Programme overview:

22.10. Eröffnungsvortrag, Pierre Monnet (Frankfurt), Stadtluft macht frei? Überlegungen zu den Leistungen der vormodernen Stadt für die europäische Geschichte

29.10. „Wasser als städtische Herausforderung“ 

  1. Gerhard Fouquet (Kiel), "Sintflut" – Hochwasser in Basel während der Jahre 1529 und 1530

  2. Oliver Wetter (Bern), Die Relevanz von Extremereignissen aus der Vormessperiode für die Risikobeurteilungen sensibler Infrastrukturen

12.11. „Siedlungstextur“

  1. Nicholas Cahill (Madison, USA), Standardized housing and diverse communities: the example of Olynthus in Ancient Greece
  2. Clara Weber (Zürich), A psychological perspective on residential appropriation in standardized housing environments

26.11. „Urbanitas - Verhaltenskonzepte von (städtischen) Eliten“

  1. Jörg Oberste (Regensburg), Reichtum verpflichtet - religiöse und soziale Strategien urbaner Eliten im 12. und 13. Jahrhundert
  2. Heinrich Best (Jena), Die Stadt, die Macht und das Geld – legitime und illegitime Herrschaft in Städten

17.12. „Planned negotiations“

  1. Armand Baeriswyl (Bern), Geplant oder Gewachsen? Mythen und Fakten zur Frage der mittelalterlichen «Gründungsstadt»
  2. Monika Grubbauer (Hamburg), Stadt von unten – aktuelle Ansätze von Beteiligung in Städtebau und Stadtplanung

07.01. „Stadtzentrum. Form, Gestaltung, Funktion“

  1. Gerald Schwedler (Kiel), Prestigeinfrastruktur. Urbane Zentrumsgestaltung im Spätmittelalter
  2. Carsten Benke (Berlin), Moderne Stadtzentren – Wandel von Funktion und Gestaltung im Städtebau seit 1900

21.01. „Flüchtlinge und Migration“

  1. Bent Gebert (Konstanz), Ästhetik der Migration
  2. Daniel Fuhrhop (Oldenburg), Willkommensstadt. Wo Flüchtlinge wohnen und Städte lebendig werden

04.02. „Tempel, Kirchen und Moscheen: Die Implementierung neuer Religionen im urbanen Kontext“

  1. Christiane Zimmermann (Kiel), Die Christianisierung von Korinth vom 1.-6. Jh.
  2. Bärbel Beinhauer-Köhler (Marburg), Die Islamisierung Kairos vom 7.-12. Jh.


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:


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:


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.


ROOTS Reflective Turn “Inequality” Workshop

Modern market economies are characterized by substantial wealth inequality. This is subject to contemporary concerns: the exploitation of work forces, violent conflicts, and mass migration, to provide a few examples. Studying past forms and dynamics of inequality enhances our understanding of present social inequality and its consequences.
Inequality is a firm topic in contemporary research agendas. On the one hand, with the increase of globalization and political populism, more attention has been drawn to the analysis of inequality by economic sciences. On the other hand, discussion has been raised concerning established concepts and methods in the study of inequality. Deep philosophical questions are associated with a perceptive understanding and analysis of inequality.
Where does archaeology and, more broadly, anthropological social theory stand with regard to the concept of inequality? In archaeology, we find both established theories and approaches as well as attempts to rethink inequality and its conceptual neighborhood. In the study of past societies, inequality is intimately linked to concepts of social complexity, power, competition and co-operation, and is consequently subject to broader questions of archaeological interpretation.
This workshop invites an interdisciplinary cast of specialists to Kiel to discuss the topic of inequality. In a productive environment, this event offers contributors ample opportunity to present and discuss their thoughts.

The workshop is for the entire team of ROOTS and is organized by Konrad Ott (contact/link), philosopher and principal investigator of ROOTS, and Vesa Arponen (contact/link), Gido Lukas (contact/link), and René Ohlrau (contact/link) from the ROOTS Reflective Turn Forum.

Confirmed speakers are:
Bill Angelbeck (Douglas College, Canada)
Vesa Arponen (Kiel University, Germany)
Reinhard Bernbeck (FU Berlin, Germany)
T. L. Thurston (University at Buffalo, USA)
Elizabeth DeMarrais (University of Cambridge, UK)
Martin Furholt (University of Oslo, Norway)
John Robb (University of Cambridge, UK)
Bernd Simon (Kiel University, Germany)
Orri Vésteinsson (University of Iceland)

Date: 18-19 October 2019
Place: Kiel University, room: LS1 - R. 209a und 209b

The workshop starts on 18 October at 9:00 a.m.


Abstracts and timetable


Ancient Cities – MOOC “Discovering Greek & Roman Cities”

The world of ancient Greece and Rome was a world of cities. City-states dominated Greece in the first millennium BCE. In the Roman Empire, urban societies thrived from Britain and Spain in the West to Syria and Jordan in the East. Most of the major developments in the political, social, intellectual, and religious history of these periods started in cities. Accordingly, cities are the ideal point of departure for the study of life in antiquity. Furthermore, the legacy of ancient Greek and Roman cities are still keenly felt, in how we physically organize, build and live in our cities today, as well as how we think about and define cities.

The Strategic Partnership “Ancient Cities” is a cooperation of six European universities (i.e. Kiel University, Aarhus University, University of Athens, University of Bergen, University Paris I, Open University of the Netherlands) that brings together specialists from the fields of classical archaeology and e-learning to explore the many facets of Greek and Roman cities. Within ROOTS, this MOOC fits well with the research and approach of the sub-cluster Urban ROOTS: Urban Agency and Perception and the ROOTS Communication Platform.

Online MOOC: 
Under the coordination of ROOTS’ co-PI, Prof. Dr. Stefan Feuser (contact/link), this initiative is now launching the trilingual Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Discovering Greek & Roman Cities”. Starting September 12, 2019, this course will provide basic knowledge on ancient cities to a broad audience through videos, texts, quizzes, and various assignments within 8 weeks. The course will explore the connections between ancient cities and their impact on urban life in later periods across the globe.
Apart from a basic interest in archaeology, architecture, history or historical heritage, no specific knowledge is required. Participation in the course is free of charge.
The MOOC is now ready for registration here

Below you find the video teasers for this MOOC course in English and German:

Copyright information:
drawing: Jonathan Westin; design: Florent Alias



'Past Landscapes': New edited volume by the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’

The edited volume ‘Past Landscapes. The Dynamics of Interaction between Society, Landscape, and Culture’ presents theoretical and practical attempts of scholars and scientists, who were and are active within the Kiel Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSHDL) at Kiel University. It comprises 18 papers dealing with central issues of interdisciplinary research on past landscapes, inhabiting societies and the development of socio-environmental interaction, with special focus on the definition and application of the term ‘landscape’:Landscapes are understood as products of human-environmental interaction. At the same time, they are arenas, in which societal and cultural activities as well as receptions of environments and human developments take place. Thus, environmental processes are interwoven into human constraints and advances.

This book presents theories, concepts, approaches and case studies dealing with human development in landscapes. On the one hand, it becomes evident that only an interdisciplinary approach can cover the manifold aspects of the topic. On the other hand, this also implies that the very different approaches cannot be reduced to a simplistic uniform definition of landscape. This shortcoming proves nevertheless to be an important strength. The umbrella term ‘landscape’ proves to be highly stimulating for a large variety of different approaches.

The GSDHL makes the major pioneering institution of this interdisciplinary research focus at Kiel University, from which the CRC 1266, the Johanna Mestorf Academy and the excellence cluster ‘ROOTS - connectivity of society, environment and culture in past worlds’ emerged. Hence, several members of the CRC 1266 and ROOTS contributed to different papers of this volume.

The publication is freely accessible online via the publishing house Sidestone Press: Link

  Haug, A., Käppel, L., Müller, J., 2018. Past Landscapes. The Dynamics of Interaction between Society, Landscape, and Culture. Sidestone Press, Leiden.
ISBN: 9789088907319.

Face urns – Images of humans in the past

Face Urns

Faces fascinate, especially those of the past. Face depictions attracted the interest of collectors and museums early on.

Jutta Kneisel, prehistorian archaeologist, co-PI of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and project leader of the CRC 1266 subproject D3, published a vivid volume on the latest results of her research on anthropomorphic vessels, which were mainly used as grave urns during both the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. This richly illustrated volume provides an insight into the life of a society that lived almost 3000 years ago. The book provides answers to questions such as: who was an important woman and what role did an old man play in this society? In addition, the reader gets to know children and warriors and also learns about trade and exchange networks, which were already established across Europe. Face recognition and the significance of the face play a pivotal role for the investigations.

This research was completed with the support of the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes (GSC 208).

Kneisel, J., 2019. Gesichtsurnen, Menschenbilder der Vergangenheit. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH.

To the publisher: Habelt Verlag


Embracing Bell Beaker. Adopting new ideas and objects across Europe during the later 3rd millennium BC (c. 2600-2000 BC)

The newly released volume of the CRC series “Scales of Transformation in Prehistoric and Historic Societies” presents the results of the research completed by Jos Kleijne on settlement evidence from the Bell Beaker period. Kleijne indicates that local communities adopted new ideas and objects in different ways during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. While some prehistoric communities adopted the Bell Beaker phenomenon rapidly and as a whole package, other communities adopted it more slowly or reshaped ideas to adapt them to their own cultural sphere. The study demonstrates that these varying strategies and tempi related to existing social networks of information exchange between Bell Beaker communities. These emerging networks were based on long-distance mobility of a limited number of individuals, who spread new technologies and practices.

This research was completed with the support of the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes (GSC 208).

Kleijne, J.P., 2019. Embracing Bell Beaker. Adopting new ideas and objects across Europe during the later 3rd millennium BC (c. 2600-2000 BC). Scales of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies 2. Leiden: Sidestone Press. ISBN:987-90-8890-755-5

To the publisher Sidestone Press

“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.


Projects / Activities


Participating Institutions