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

Add to your iCal calendar



Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions