Conferences + Workshops

Anthropogenic Dark Earth Colloquium (ADEC)

Oct 04, 2022 to Oct 08, 2022

The term ‘Anthropogenic Dark Earth’ (ADE) is not well defined, although since the 1980s, thick and homogeneous dark soil layers with little sign of stratification were described as ADE. They are rich in organic material and charcoal, which gives them a characteristic dark colour. Such soils appear in ancient rural and urban settlements, in many chronological and geographical contexts.

Despite similar character, ADEs were formed by diverse social practices and environmental processes. Since the first description, development of research, especially in geoarchaeological analysis, has pointed out a great variety of possible origins of ADE. Today it is well known that the ADE phenomenon is widespread far beyond Northwestern Europe. They are an archive of information concerning environmental and social change, subsistence and resilience strategies. While a growing number of case studies examining the ADE phenomenon appeared, there is still a lack of coherent research methodology hindering the possibility of comparative studies on the global scale.

Independent from cultural and environmental conditions, all types of ADE apparently developed by intensive utilization of settlement space as a result of deposition of waste, charred residues, and biomass ashes. A comparative study of ADE in different environmental and chronological settings can be an important step forward towards a general understanding of the ADE phenomenon, which may generate contributions to today’s issues like increasing urbanization, climatic crisis and circular economy. In this regard, the interdisciplinary workshop Anthropogenic Dark Earth Colloquium (ADEC) wants to make a first step towards a comprehensive understanding of the Dark Earth phenomenon from a comparative global perspective. Leading specialists in this field will come together and discuss the development of a coherent interdisciplinary research methodology for both, approaches to sample analysis and interpretations in social and environmental contexts. The ADEC will take place in Kiel from 4th to 8th October, including excursions to Hedeby and Lübeck, two UNESCO World Heritage sites connected to the Dark Earth Phenomenon in Schleswig-Holstein. The event is partly hold in a hybrid format.

Programm: hier
Poster: hier

Organizing team

  • Jens Schneeweiß
  • Eileen Eckmeier
  • Paweł Cembrzyński


Coordination and contact:

Caterina Schneider, Email

Caterina Schneider

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Amber – a Connector of Knowledge and Societies

Feb 23, 2023 12:00 AM to Feb 25, 2023 12:00 AM

Amber in prehistory is still a big and important topic. Therefore, we would like to invite you to a joint workshop on amber as a "link between knowledge and societies" in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in Kiel.
The aim of the workshop is to gain an overview of the European amber trade from the Late Neolithic to the Iron Age, less with regard to possible exchange routes than to the social aspect of the people who had access to amber. The main topic will be the social context of amber.

Symposia on amber have a long tradition since the analysis of Baltic amber by C.W. Beck. Much has been discussed about origin, exchange and possible course of exchange routes. We know in which regions amber appears in the archaeological find context and about its frequency in the individual regions. But what was its importance for the societies of that time and which group of people really had access to this strange stone from the north. Is amber just as important in the north at its source as it was in far away Mycenae? Who wore the large amber necklaces, who wore only pendants, who had access to raw amber? Who worked it? Were its flammable and electrostatic properties known? These are all questions we want to explore together in this workshop in order to gain as comprehensive a Europe-wide understanding as possible of the importance of amber in different societies.
Individual presentations will provide an overview of the social environments in which amber occurs. Does it occur primarily in dumps, in graves, or in settlements? Is it socialized with women and children or different age groups, or is it only encountered in rich graves or special burials? What does this say about the appreciation of amber in each society? Is it possible to find uniform patterns across Europe and do they differ depending on how close they are to the resource amber (succinite/simetite/ruminite)? Do we know which groups of people were involved in the amber trade or its processing and which group of people or region benefited from it?

We will try to answer the following questions in our workshop.

  • - What was the social status of the bearers of the amber?
  • - Can age, gender or wealth differences be determined?
  • - Is it possible to identify traders or the buyers?
  • - Is there a change in the knowledge about amber (origin, use, function)?
  • - What new methods for determining origin do we know?

The workshop is scheduled for 3 days, February 23-25, 2023. An excursion to one of the amber-rich coasts on the North Sea with a museum visit is planned.
This Workshop is organised by the subcluster Knowledge in the context of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS of Kiel University.

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Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions