Fieldwork and Activities

Investigating Kurgans in Azerbaijan


In the framework of the “Burial Mounds of the South Caucasus (4000-1 BCE)” project (link)of the ROOTS subcluster “Inequalities” (link), a team led by Andrea Ricci (link), Wolfgang Rabbel and Jutta Kneisel conducted geophysical investigations on the Uzun Rama plateau of Central Azerbaijan in November 2021. This area, which was exclusively dedicated to burying the dead for over two millennia, reveals the presence of numerous large communal kurgans dated to the Kura-Araxes period (i.e. 4th millennium BCE), as well as smaller Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age burial mounds. At Uzun Rama, initial survey documented 205 kurgans and first detailed topographic mapping along the northern margin of the plateau already recorded the high dimensional and morphological variability of the kurgans.
Conducted in cooperation with Dr. Bakhtiyar Jalilov from the Azerbaijani Academy of Science in Baku, this 2021 field season enabled the ROOTS team to test the efficacy of three different geophysical methods (i.e. georadar, geoelectric, and geomagnetic) on the kurgans, as well as to document them with aerial pictures taken from a kite. This newly acquired data on the dimensional and morphological variability of the kurgans and their topographic and geological setting provides crucial information to infer early developments of social inequality in the Southern Caucasus from the beginning of early metal cultures onwards.

Team members: Ercan Erkul, Simon Fischer, Lisa Glueck, Jutta Kneisel, Bakhtiyar Jalilov, Erman Lu, Wolfgang Rabbel, Andrea Ricci, Maurice Weber, and Elmar Zeynalov.


URBAN Talks: a forum for urban research discussions

Urban TalksLaunched by early career researchers of the Subcluster Urban ROOTS, URBAN Talks is a new series of meetings that aims to explore urban agency and urban perception alongside other urban social and environmental issues. URBAN Talks are intended to offer a forum to urban researchers from multiple fields in order to share ideas and gain insights into the phenomenon of urbanity from different perspectives.
At each meeting, a scientific publication will be commented on by a specialist or a guest lecture will take place. The meetings will be held every three weeks on Thursdays at 11:30 per ZOOM (and will be switched to a hybrid mode as soon as possible). The topic of each meeting will be announced in the ROOTS calendar.
The first URBAN Talks meeting will take place on 6 January 2022 with a discussion on a paper by Dr. Julia Kroh (Institute for Innovation Research, CAU Kiel; Denkraum program) entitled: Sustain(able) urban (eco)systems: Stakeholder-related success factors in urban innovation projects.

For further information, please contact Paweł Cembrzyński

Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne

Mentale KonzepteOrganised by Margit Dahm and Timo Felber, who are members of the the subcluster Urban ROOTS, the conference “Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne” took place on 10-12 June 2021. The conference addressed the basic fact that the city was not only a component of the historical reality of pre-modernity but also part of the fixed inventory of cultural knowledge and memory. The contributions were dedicated to mental concepts, i.e. notions, ideas or imaginings, of the city, which appear across epochs in different discursive and visual representations. In an interdisciplinary exchange between specialists of German studies, theology, archaeology, history and art history, mental concepts of the city were examined in different media formats, including city chronicles, secular paintings, biblical texts, medieval city plans or courtly novels. Based on the diversity of the examined formats and hermeneutical confrontations, it became clear that the cultural ideas associated with the city and urbanity are shaped by historical specifics, but also by supra-temporal constants. The media representations of the city only partly emerge from the historical conditions of urbanisation of their time of origin. They also refer to supra-temporal patterns, topoi and concepts of meaning. In the course of the conference, it was also possible to unveil the mental roots of the social, historical and cultural ideas of the city in recent societies, as modern media conceptualisations of the city often fall back on the same ideas, which are frequently rooted in antiquity and Christian traditions. We look forward to the publication of the proceedings of this conference in the ROOTS Studies series.

Link to the event´s webpage.

4th Northern German Stone Age Meeting in Kiel

Group photo of the participants, who were able to personally attend the 2021 Northern German Stone Age Meeting.

After the virtual Stone Age Meeting in 2020, due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, researchers and interested parties from all over Northern Germany gathered this year on 3 December in a hybrid format in Kiel. Once more, the roundtable was organised in cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the CRC1266 - Scales of Transformation. With up to 56 participants, the 2021 Stone Age Roundtable Meeting was attended better than ever before. The 16 contributions covered the period from the Middle Palaeolithic to the transition to the Bronze Age. In addition to the presentations on current research at and around older excavated and newly investigated sites, questions of cultural heritage management and the further handling of excavation documentation were addressed. The contributions were rounded off by lively discussions. There was also great interest in the planned excursion. However, due to the weather conditions, it was postponed until spring 2022. Thus, with warmer weather and less critical infection rates, we hope to meet with an interested group at the outer bay of Eckernförde, where Harm Paulsen will introduce the basic techniques of flint working.

The Dynamics of Neighbourhoods and Urban Quarters

The Dynamics of Neighbourhoods and Urban QuartersThis colloquium dealt with a meso-scale of urbanity: neighbourhoods, city quarters and districts. While the term neighbourhood was used to address the surrounding of an individual’s home, the term district designates an area with specific qualities which differ from those of other areas of a city. The contributions addressed the socio-spatial patterning of cities, such as Athens, Rome, Ostia and Pompeii, by focusing on an analysis of the three-dimensional urban space. Thus, they contributed to a multidimensional and differentiated understanding of urban space and time on different scales. The analysis of neighbourhoods and city quarters provides important insights for a deeper understanding of urban agency and perception, which are a core research focus of the subcluster Urban ROOTS.

Date: 11-12 November 2021 CAU Kiel

Christian Beck (Kiel)
Christer Bruun (Toronto)
Steven Ellis (Cincinnati)
Miko Flohr (Leiden)
Annette Haug (Kiel)
Pia Kastenmeier (Rome)
Patric-Alexander Kreuz (Kiel)
Taylor Lauritsen (Kiel)
Simon Malmberg (Bergen)
Eric Poehler (Amherst Massachusetts)
Ginny Wheeler (Bern)

The programme can be found here

Dating the taiga forts – Field survey for radiocarbon samples in the West Siberian forest

In July 2021, Tanja Schreiber conducted a field campaign to the West Siberian taiga as part of the subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities project “Dating the Taiga Forts - Eight millennia of defensive hunter-gatherer monumentality and human-environment interaction in Western Siberia” (Projects T2_1 & T2_2; links). The project takes place under the scientific direction of Henny Piezonka in cooperation with Ekaterina Dubovtseva of the Ural Branch of the Academy of Sciences in Yekaterinburg.

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 1: The (E)Neolithic fortified settlement Imnegan 2.1, located on a remote promontory in the Agan River area (photo by K. Karacharov).

The aim of the project is to create a reliable chronology of the phenomenon of the fortified hunter-gatherer settlements in West Siberia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Currently, this region still largely lacks comprehensive series of absolute dates, despite being a key area in North Eurasian development through time. Therefore, the project is dedicated to the collection and radiocarbon dating of approx. 50 samples retrieved in previous excavations and in new field activities. Besides sample collection from various archives, two sites were targeted in the field campaign in Siberia in July 2021 in order to acquire new sample materials.

One of the two sites is the exceptional Barsova Gora archaeological complex. Situated at a high river bank of an Ob’ tributary, this complex encompasses hundreds of prehistoric and protohistoric hunter-gatherer settlements, of which more than 60 are fortified. The other site is the Stone Age fortified settlement of Imnegan 2.1, situated about 300 km further north in the basin of the Agan River on a floodplain promontory.

The archaeological investigations at both sites were carried out by a small team of four excavators, including the Russian cooperation partner Ekaterina Dubovtseva and excavation helpers Aleksey Lusin and Aleksey Leont‘ev. While constrained by administrative regulations, which limited excavation to re-opening old trenches by 1-2 m² and to areas at risk due to cliff erosion and looting, the work enabled the team to document several house profiles within open and fortified settlements. The presence of thick charcoal layers revealed during the excavations was of pivotal importance to the project’s goals. These layers were carefully and exhaustively sampled to collect suitable material for radiocarbon dating.

Besides charcoal, the collected materials also included bones and ceramic charred crusts. Additionally, the team took part in fishing activities to gain local freshwater fish samples for comparative isotope analyses. A total of eleven sites was investigated at the Barsova Gora complex. While in some of the archaeological pit houses only few or even no objects were found, settlements like medieval Barsova Gora II/13, exhibiting one of the mightiest fortification systems in the region, revealed a large number of finds including metal artefacts, bones, ceramics and slag.

The second part of the field campaign aimed at obtaining secure dates for one of the potentially earliest hunter-gatherer fortified sites worldwide: the settlement Imnegan 2.1. This site is dated to the 6th/5th millennium BC, although no absolute dates were available prior to this field campaign.
The small team was warmly welcomed to stay in a nearby excavation camp led by Konstantin Karacharov of the association “Severnaya Arkheologiya”, which was conducting rescue excavations in that area. Here, two old trenches of 1 m² each were opened in order to retrieve samples, revealing charcoal, ceramics as well as layers of red ochre. In addition to a severe mosquito plague, bad weather conditions complicated the work, but the team kept up good spirits nonetheless and succeeded in acquiring the necessary samples to better understand the unusual phenomenon of the taiga forts.

Altogether, the team was able to acquire more than 100 samples for C14 dating, deriving from 22 sites, twelve of which came from the fieldwork in 2021. After two intense working weeks, the team set off for Yekaterinburg, a journey of over 2000 km with a two-day car trip to the south.

I had the great pleasure to work with Ekaterina Dubovtseva, Aleksey Lusin and Aleksey Leont‘ev. Many thanks for the adventurous and successful field campaign in the Siberian taiga! I would also like to thank Konstantin Karacharov, who provided us with a great amount of help and hospitality during our second field survey in the Agan Basin.

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 2: Project partner Ekaterina Dubovtseva taking samples from the thick charcoal layers within the medieval fortification system of the site Barsova Gora II/13 (photo by T. Schreiber).

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 3: The large rampart of the medieval fortified site Barsova Gora II/13, which is clearly visible in the relief up until today (photo by E. Dubovtseva).

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 4: Ornamented ceramic sherds from the medieval fortified site Barsova Gora II/13 (photo by T. Schreiber).

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 5: The small excavation team documenting a profile within the largest dwelling of the Stone Age fort of Imnegan 2.1 (photo by K. Karacharov).

Dating the taiga forts
Fig. 6: Showing several excavation obstacles: mosquito plague and unfavorable weather conditions in the Agan River area (photo by E. Dubovtseva).


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions