Online discussion on archaeological cultures in present-day Belarus

A village in Belarus. Due to the current situation, research cooperation with the country is limited. The Science at Risk Lecture Series enables colleagues from Belarus to present and continue their academic work in a secure online environment. Photo: Jens Schneeweiß

What are the hypotheses about the origin and distribution of archaeological cultures on the territory of present-day Belarus in the first millennium AD? This question will be the subject of an online discussion moderated by ROOTS member Dr Jens Schneeweiß on 13 December. The event entitled "Slavs, Balts and Germans on the territory of Belarus in the 1st millennium: an archaeological panorama" is part of the Science At Risk Lecture Series of the Science at Risk Emergency Office and is organised in cooperation with the Centre for Baltic and Slavic Archaeology Schleswig, with the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University and the Chair of Archaeology at Warsaw University.

Three Belarusian historians from the Chair of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw, who were forced to stop their scientific activities in Belarus due to political repression, will give presentations. Topics of the presentations:

Dr. Vadzim Beliavets
Hypothesis of the "Paliessie white spot" today: the state of the study of the problem of the genesis of the Prague culture in Belarusian archeology
Vital Sidarovich

Hoards of the Early Migration Period from the territory of Belarus as evidence of migrations of East German peoples

Dr. Mikalai Plavinski
Burial sites of the Krivichi people of Northern Belarus in the 8th - early 11th centuries

The working language will be English and Belarusian (with consistent translation into English).
Interested people can visit the event through the following link:
Meeting ID: 944 7776 5034
ID code: 273487

Background information:
The Science At Risk Emergency Office and the Science at Risk Lecture Series
The Science at Risk Emergency Office - founded by Akademisches Netzwerk Osteuropa e. V. in August 2020 and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office - supports students and academics threatened and demonstrably endangered by the war in Ukraine by bundling and providing offers of assistance and support. Specifically, it places those affected from the target countries in study and doctoral positions as well as teaching and research assignments at German universities and research institutions and in a mentoring programme initiated by the Science At Risk Office.

In addition, it organises a virtual lecture series, the Science at Risk Lecture Series, with the participation of scientists at risk from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. This enables colleagues to present and continue their academic work in a secure online environment. The aim is to bring together scientific voices from different scientific systems, which can lead to fruitful collaborations in the future.


Water – a key urban element

Urban Water II ROOTS Colloquium
Photo: Pawel Cembrzyński

Colloquium organized by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Water is a resource, element of natural environment, but also part of urban culture and social life. The colloquium "Urban Water II", organized by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Subcluster "Urban ROOTS", in Kiel from 7 to 9 December 2022, deals with the question how urban actors perceived and interacted with their dynamic social, environmental, and cultural settings related to water in pre-modern times. Experts from eight countries will present current research on bathing, narratives around water, water and social topography, and water (healing) cults. At the same time, the topics of the colloquium reflect the orientation of various working groups in the ROOTS subcluster "Urban ROOTS", whose results will be exchanged and deepened with the international experts during the colloquium. From history and archaeology to literary studies and philosophy, a wide variety of disciplines are represented, allowing for a comprehensive view of the aforementioned topics.

Flyer: here
The current event builds on a first colloquium on "Urban Water" that took place in Kiel in 2017

----------german version below--------

Wasser - ein Schlüsselelement der Stadt

Kolloquium organisiert vom Exzellenzcluster ROOTS

Wasser ist ein Grundnahrungsmittel, Element der natürlichen Umwelt, aber auch Teil der städtischen Kultur und des sozialen Lebens. Das Kolloquium "Urban Water II", das vom Exzellenzcluster ROOTS, Subcluster "Urban ROOTS", vom 7. bis 9. Dezember 2022 in Kiel veranstaltet wird, beschäftigt sich mit der Frage, wie städtische Akteure in der Vormoderne ihr dynamisches soziales, ökologisches und kulturelles Umfeld in Bezug auf Wasser wahrnahmen und damit interagierten. Experten aus acht Ländern stellen aktuelle Forschungen zum Baden, zu Erzählungen über Wasser, zu Wasser und sozialer Topographie sowie zu Wasser(Heil)Kulten vor. Zugleich spiegeln die Themen des Kolloquiums die Ausrichtung verschiedener Arbeitsgruppen des ROOTS-Subclusters "Urban ROOTS" wider, deren Ergebnisse im Rahmen des Kolloquiums mit den internationalen Experten ausgetauscht und vertieft werden sollen. Von der Geschichtswissenschaft über die Archäologie bis hin zur Literaturwissenschaft und Philosophie sind die unterschiedlichsten Disziplinen vertreten, so dass ein umfassender Blick auf die genannten Themen möglich ist.

Die aktuelle Veranstaltung knüpft an ein erstes Kolloquium zum Thema "Urban Water" an, das 2017 in Kiel stattfand

Gird-i Dasht: A deep Late Chalcolithic Stratigraphy

A selection of ceramic and lithic finds from the excavation at Gird-i Dasht. Photo: Greta Rettler

The Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is an important study area for research into the human past. However, the political situation has hindered archaeological work for decades. It is only in the last years that researchers from abroad have had opportunities to work there again. From October to early November, a German-Norwegian team led by ROOTS member Tim Kerig, in close cooperation with scientists from Soran University and the General Directorate for Antiquities responsible for the region, investigated Gird-i Dasht, the principal tell on the Delizian Plain about 2 hours driving northeast of Erbil. 

As part of the joint From Mound to Cave project, they opened two trenches in the steep hill. For one of these trenches, the scientists used an existing looters hole to minimize the overall impact on the mound's appearance. All contexts were described verbally, measured and documented in photos as well as by photogrammetric Structure from Motion-models (SfM). Important profiles were also drawn. Orthophotos as well as SfM were taken with the help of a drone. The combination of these different methods ensured a highly precise measurement of the finds and structures. 

The team found horizontally parallel layers that are steeply sloping to the slope, metre-thick ash layers and continuous fire horizons. Preliminary investigations suggest that these layers can be dated both to late chalcolithic (LC) 3-5 and LC 1-2. There are indications that there are still at least 10 m of older layers underneath. As soon as analyzed, several hundreds of ceramic and lithic finds as well as radiocarbon dates will allow a more detailed view on the prehistoric settlement dynamics in this part of Kurdistan. 

This year’s excavation continued the work of the project "From Mound to Cave" in 2021, when the team started with a small trench at the foot of Gird-i Dasht to work out a first idea of what archaeological periods could be expected. 

The 2022 scientific team consisted of Dr. Tim Kerig (ROOTS), Dr. Jutta Lechterbeck (Archaeological Museum at the University of Stavanger, Norway), Greta Rettler and Eileen Pohl (Kiel University, Germany), Benny Waszk, George Hanna and Jannis Werner (University Mainz, Germany), Tenka Ismail (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Tjark Kerig (student trainee Tasta Rusta Stavanger, Norway). Shler Ahmad and Hidayet Hussein represented the Directorate of Antiquities, Soran, at the excavation. The excavation was also supported by the generosity of the landowners. 

Under the hashtag #FromMounttoCave, the team posted updates on Twitter during the excavation. 

This digital elevation model shows the prominent position of Gird-i Dasht in the Delizian Plain. Data and visualization: Benny Waszk

The team explores the steep flanks of the tell for suitable sites to excavate. Photo: Greta Rettler

Opening trenches in the hill slopes is hard work. Photo: Greta Rettler

Ethnoarchaeological observations are part of the fieldwork during the From Mound to Cave campaign. Photo: Greta Rettler


Understanding an ambitious architectural project in the Roman city Gadara

Claudia Winterstei1
The area of the Perystile Court in Gadara features an unusual octagonal vestibule of approx. 20m width. Photo: Claudia Winterstein

Just ten kilometres southeast of the Sea of Galilee, close to the modern city of Umm Qays in northern Jordan, lie the ruins of the important ancient city of Gadara. They were described as early as the 19th century, but despite repeated investigations on site, many questions about the former urban structure of Gadara remain unanswered. From 18 to 24 September, ROOTS member Patric-Alexander Kreuz together with Brita Jansen from the German Protestant Institute for Archaeology in Amman and Claudia Winterstein from the Technical University Berlin visited the site to investigate the so-called Peristyle Court and adjacent structures in the western parts of ancient Gadara immediately inside the Roman fortification. They sought to contribute to a better knowledge of this important, yet neglected monument of Roman Gadara from the Roman to Middle Islamic period.

With the permission from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan the team established a scaled layout plan of the so far excavated structures supplemented by a short description. The documentation was done with a Total Station and it recorded walls and foundations, wall seams, door openings, stairs, niches, thresholds and postaments of columns, i.e. remains that can be connected to the Roman period-architecture of the area (which also served as the built framework for later reuse).

The analysis of the data allowed the team to study and identify all architectural units of the area, among them the monumental main gate, an unusual octagonal vestibule of approx. 20m width, and the huge peristyle court of 54x45m, comprising also several architectural units of different size and design, among them a lavish public latrine, a 20,5m wide hall with a podium along the inner walls, a row of shops and workshops, and the remains of a podium architecture, probably a small temple. A long-lasting use of the area up to the medieval period is obvious in numerous later modifications, installations and appropriations of the former architecture.

The Peristyle court complex was clearly one of the most ambitious architectural projects of Roman Gadara and must have had an enormous impact on its urban life. Patric-Alexander Kreuz and his project partner Brita Jansen from the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology seek to develop a project to better understand the monument in its urban setting against the background of the changing urban culture not only of Gadara itself, but of the Levant region in general up to the Middle Islamic period.

Claudia Winterstein
The actual Perystile courtyard in Gadara measures 54 x 54 meters. Photo: Claudia Winterstein

Claudia Wintersetin 3
Structures in the Perystile Courtyard area were accurately surveyed. Photo: Claudia Winterstein

Brought to light: ROOTS researchers study the Late Neolithic settlement of Opovo (Serbia)

In March 2022, the team conducts a geomagnetic survey at Opovo. Photo: Melissa Villumsen

In March and October 2022, archaeologists from the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, in cooperation with the National Museum in Pančevo and the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, investigated the Late Neolithic site of Opovo (Serbia). The site is a multi-phase settlement of the Vinča culture, that is known from sites in south-eastern Europe. Old 14C dates place Opovo into the period from 4860 – 4780 cal BC. Geomagnetic surveying has now brought to light the almost complete settlement map of Opovo.

Already in the 1980s, an American-Yugoslavian archaeological team had carried out excavations in a part of the settlement and noticed some differences compared to the then known settlements of the Vinča culture (Tringham et al. 1985; Tringham et al. 1992). Besides smaller, single-roomed houses and a disproportionately high share of obsidian artefacts, the high share of hunted animals in the animal bone spectrum (around 90%) was also remarkable. These features led to the interpretation of Opovo as a trading site of a provincial nature with a strong adaptation to its environment. 

In spring 2022, the ROOTS scientists had the opportunity to investigate the structure of the site in more detail with the help of a geomagnetic prospection. This prospection method was in development in the 1980s and has since become standard practice in archaeology. The new geomagnetic image of Opovo shows a network of ditches that are enclosing an area of 9 ha with more than 100 houses. Based on this settlement plan, further questions opened up for the team, especially concerning the demographic development, social structure and economic distribution of resources within the settlement. Within the framework of the subcluster "ROOTS of Inequalities", a drilling prospection was carried out in October 2022 with the aim of extracting organic material from different settlement areas and dating it. 

In a two-week campaign, with the help of students from Kiel University and the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), it was possible to sample a large number of settlement objects. Further analyses are currently being carried out at the Leibniz Laboratory for Age Determination in Kiel and results are expected from mid-2023. 

The investigations at the Late Neolithic settlement of Opovo are being carried out by an international team consisting of: Fynn Wilkes (CAU Kiel, ROOTS), Miroslav Birclin (National Museum Pančevo), Martin Furholt (CAU Kiel, ROOTS), Aleksandar Medović (Museum of Vojvodina Novi Sad), Kata Szilágyi (CAU Kiel), Ildiko Medović (Museum of Vojvodina Novi Sad), Robert Hofmann (CAU Kiel, ROOTS), Till Kühl (CAU Kiel, ROOTS) 

The new geomagnetic plan of the late Neolithic settlement of Opovo (Serbia).

Sherd of a vessel found at the site of Opovo in October 2022


Further reading:
Tringham, Ruth, Bogdan Brukner, Timothy Kaiser, Ksenija Borojevic, Ljubomir Bukvic, Petar Steli, Nerissa Russell, Mirjana Stevanovic, and Barbara Voytek. 1992.
“Excavations at Opovo, 1985-1987: Socioeconomic Change in the Balkan Neolithic.” Journal of Field Archaeology 19 (3): 351. doi:10.2307/529922.

Tringham, Ruth, Bogdan Brukner, and Barbara Voytek. 1985.
“The Opovo Project: A Study of Socioeconomic Change in the Balkan Neolithic.” Journal of Field Archaeology 12 (4): 425. doi:10.2307/529968.

The Forest Finns as a model for the early slavic migration

Conference in Svabensverk, Sweden

Visiting the Roekstuga
Visiting the Rökstuga. Photo: H. Keller.

From the late 16th to the mid-17th century, groups of Finns from the historic province of Savonia migrated to Sweden and Norway. Since most of them settled in woodland and pursued slash-and-burn agriculture, they were called Forest Finns. An interdisciplinary ROOTS project examines this historical migration movement as a model for early Slavic migrations. On 20-22 September 2022, the international collaborators of the project held a conference in Svabensverk, Sweden The scientists involved were international specialists of different disciplines such as archaeobotany, ethnoarchaeology and soil experts from Norway, Canada, Sweden and Germany.

The conference started with a visit to Forest Finns museum at Skräddrabo, that displays about 300 object, showing tools, music instruments, culture, history, housing and parts of the archaeological record. The museum also includes the biggest Forest Finns library. The museum visit was complemented by a tour to a traditional Rökstuga, located deep in the forest around Skäddrabo. The Forest Finns housing is characterized by it’s special oven. Other than common ovens with chimneys to channel out the smoke (and the heat), Rökstugas are furnished with huge stone-ovens without a chimney. The smoke accumulates underneath the ceiling and escapes through a small vent. As the scientists were able to experience first-hand, the smoked Rökstuga is not inconvenient, rather atmospheric, cozy and steadily warm.

The theoretical part of the meeting in Svabensverk began with introduction into the Forest Finns (archaeological) record and their slash-and-burn agriculture. The first day finished off with a movie about the Forest Finns´ process of slash-and-burn cultivation starting with cleaning out the forest, harvesting the forest-rye, through to the bread on the dining table.

The second conference day was scheduled with more lectures and discussion about a wide range of topics: the analogy of the Forest Finns and the slavs, their archaeological core, how traces of slash-and-burn cultivation can be identified in soils and pollen and how archaeological Forest Finns can help finding possible traces of slavic slash-and-burn agriculture, just to name a few. Furthermore the definition and use of wording for slash-and-burn agriculture was discussed.

On the last day, the participants started to prepare a conference report, that will be published soon.

For more information on the project, go to

Inside the Roekstuga
Inside the Rökstuga. Photo: J. Schneeweiß

Collaborators of the conference
Collaborators of the conference. Photo: J. Schneeweiß.

International Workshop Shows Significance of Dark Earth as Archive

Dark Earth
The participants of the Anthropogenic Dark Earth Colloquium in front of reconstructed Viking houses in Hedeby. Photo: Paweł Cembrzyński

From October 4th to October 7th 2022, the Anthropogenic Dark Earth Colloquium (ADEC), as part of the overarching interdisciplinary project 3DARK DEPTH of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, took place in Kiel and Hedeby. Anthropogenic Dark Earth describes dark-coloured anthropogenic soils that are found in various contexts. Usually, they show a great thickness as well as a high content of organic matter and a homogenous structure. Nevertheless, the term is not accurately determined yet and the phenomenon is lacking full understanding. Therefore, the colloquium aimed to bring together leading specialists from different fields to document the current state of international research, to develop the research and to formulate common standards on the analyses of the phenomenon Dark Earth. On the initiative of Jens Schneeweiß, Eileen Eckmeier and Paweł Cembrzyński (all Cluster ROOTS), specialists from ten countries could participate. 

Within the colloquium, which was also held hybrid to reach a broader public and allow more external specialists to participate, the researchers were able to present and discuss case studies out of different temporal and spatial contexts, exchange research results and to connect to other Experst. 

A special highlight was the public evening lecture by Prof. em. Richard Macphail from University College London. Particularly fruitful was also the exchange between the leading scientists in this field and young researchers, who were well represented with a poster session and own presentations.

Visits to the Viking town of Hedeby and the old town of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, both UNESCO World Heritage listed sights related to Dark Earth, complemented the conference. "We are particularly pleased that the initiative for this colloquium came from the archaeological side. They are the ones who have to deal with the dark layers in an excavation. Awareness of the Dark Earth phenomenon helps to ensure that these valuable archives receive more attention before they are destroyed", Richard Macphail pointed out. 

A joint publication to support just that will be developed by the colloquium participants.

The Colloquium was initiated by Jens Schneeweiß (left), Eileen Eckmeier (right) and Paweł Cembrzyński (all Cluster ROOTS). Photo:  Photo: Paweł Cembrzyński

Dark Earth
The Colloquium was also held hybrid to reach a broader public and allow more external specialists to participate. Photo: Paweł Cembrzyński

Dark Earth
Experst from ten countries participated in the ADEC. Photo: Photo: Paweł Cembrzyński

Dark Earth
A visit to the Hanseatic city of Lübeck was also part of the programme. Photo:
Caterina Schneider

Boundaries of and in the City

Lecture series of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Borders of and in the City
The Porta Asinaria, a gate in the Aurelian Walls of Rome. Photo: MrPanyGoff via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Walls are among the best-known features of historical cities. But this physical boundary was far from being the only one that characterized urban settlements in the past - economic, social, religious, cultural or legal boundaries existed as well, both externally and internally. What was the significance of these boundaries for cities since antiquity in Europe and beyond? This is the question addressed by the lecture series "Boundaries (in) the City", organized by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS (Subcluster Urban) this winter semester at Kiel University.

Experts from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and the USA have been gathered for the lectures. The topics range in time from antiquity to the early modern period, and geographically from northwestern Europe to Italy, Greece, Palestine, and Mongolia.

The series will kick off on 7 November with a lecture by Prof. Dr. Ivo Van der Graaf, archaeologist at the University of New Hampshire (USA). He will focus on "Architecture, Ritual, and Power at the City Gates of Republican Italy." This will be followed on 14 November by a lecture on "Mittelalterliche Grenzen, Räume und Dimensionen in der Hansestadt Lübeck” (Medieval Boundaries, Spaces, and Dimensions in the Hanseatic City of Lübeck by Dr. Dirk Rieger, head of the Department of Archaeology of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck.

The lectures will be held Mondays from 19:15 to 20:45 in the lecture hall Wilhelm-Seelig-Platz 3, Room 9, 24118 Kiel.
All dates can be accessed at:  

The lecture can be credited as a course by BA students in the subject supplement (UnivIS-No. 051455, module number: FE-GK-KA1).

Poster: here

Living with the flood: How did people settle on the marshes in the Middle Ages? The ROOTS Wadden Sea project conducts an education and research campaign on Eiderstedt

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel (IfG of CAU and Cluster ROOTS, in front) and students conduct seismic measurements on the Roman Iron Age dwelling mound Tofting. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

How a seismic survey of an ancient dwelling mound works in theory is quickly explained. You produce a controlled seismic pulse in the ground, which is reflected differently by different layers and materials. Sensors on the surface pick up the reflections. The signals thus allow conclusions about the structure of the subsurface. But how does such a seismic survey succeed in practice when several colleagues as well as an entire herd of cattle is moving around on the same ground? A total of 25 students from the universities of Ghent, Vienna and Bratislava were able to learn this from August 29 to September 2 on the Eiderstedt Peninsula in Schleswig-Holstein. There, they took part in a joint research and training campaign of the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University (CAU) and the Universities of Ghent, Vienna and Bratislava, which was funded by the Erasmus+ programme and supported by the Wadden Sea Project of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In the process, the students used not only seismics but also other geophysical prospecting methods such as geomagnetics, electromagnetic induction (EMI) or drilling. "Each of the participating universities contributed their special methods: EMI equipment came from Ghent, for example, and seismics from Kiel," reports Prof. Dr Wolfgang Käppel from the IfG at CAU, one of the initiators of the campaign.

The work focused on the more than 1500-year-old dwelling mound Tofting on the southeastern edge of the Eiderstedt Marsh, as well as on the approximately 800-year-old dwelling mound row of Stolthusen in the present-day community of Katharinenheerd. "This covers two phases that are important in order to better understand the settlement of the sea-threatened west coast," says archaeologist Dr. Bente Majchczack, head of the Wadden Sea Project in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence.

Tofting represents early settlement development during the Roman Iron Age, when people first created flat settlements on the edge of the marsh. Over the centuries, they piled higher and higher mounds under their farms to protect themselves from rising floods. "Albert Bantelmann already excavated parts of the Tofting mound in the early 1950s. Since then, however, nothing has happened there scientifically," explains Dr. Majchczack. Thanks to the new methods, he says, it is now possible to record the entire five-hectare terp without having to open up the ground again.

The row of terps in Stolthusen, in contrast, represents the high medieval settlement of the west coast in the 12th and 13th centuries, when people also cultivated the low-lying marshes. They systematically dug up moors, immediately built terps for their farms on the underlying soil, and divided the landscape into regular, narrow parcels of land. At the same time, they built the first dikes. "The procedure seems very planned. But many details are still unknown. Yet, we could perhaps learn something about how we deal with rising sea levels today from the behaviour back then," says Dr. Majchczack.

As part of the Cluster of Excellence, he has already studied similar settlement traces in the Wadden Sea. "These were the settlements that perished during the severe floods in the 14th and 17th centuries, despite all the protective measures. Rungholt is the best-known example in this context. In the current campaign, we are looking at the marsh settlements that have been preserved," explains the archaeologist.

While science thus gathers new information on how people coped with their lives in the face of a constant natural hazard, the students from Belgium, Austria and Slovakia learn the practical basics of geophysics in the field. For example, that as few metal objects as possible and no switched-on cell phones should be nearby when moving the two-wheeled cart with the geomagnetic sensors across a field. Or that even the footsteps of colleagues can be disturbing during seismic measurements. That's why a warning call is shouted before each measurement, whereupon all the other team members freeze for seconds, as if in a pantomime theatre. If necessary, an archaeologist must even become a herder to drive two dozen cattle away from the seismic measurement section. "Anyone who wants to do geophysical work later on as a scientist should learn about this practical work as early as possible. That's why it's good that we can carry out this extensive campaign with so many students," sums up Professor Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel from the Institute for Geosciences at Kiel University and as a co-spokesman of ROOTS.

The extensive scientific data obtained in the process now has to be evaluated. Results are expected to be available in a year.  
Link: The ROOTS Wadden Sea Project ‘Socio-environmental Interactions on the North Frisian Wadden Sea Coast’ 

Dr. Dennis Wilken from the IfG at CAU first explains what has to be taken into account for seismic measurements in practice
Dr. Dennis Wilken from the IfG at CAU first explains what has to be taken into account for seismic measurements in practice. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Valentijn van Parys from Ghent University carries
Valentijn van Parys from Ghent University carries out electromagnetic interference (EMI) measurements near the Tofting mound. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Sarah Bäumler
Sarah Bäumler (CAU, centre), Valentina Laaha (Uni Wien, right) and Martina Hulmanova (Uni Wien) perform geomagnetic measurements. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Philippe de Smedt from Ghent University and Bente Majchczack
Philippe de Smedt from Ghent University and Bente Majchczack (Cluster ROOTS) examine soil samples. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

 73: You don’t learn this in a lecture hall: when cattle interfere with seismic measurements, archaeologists sometimes have to act as herdsmen.
You don’t learn this in a lecture hall: when cattle interfere with seismic measurements, archaeologists sometimes have to act as herdsmen. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Interdisciplinary Colloquium: “Urban Design. Städte in Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft”

Interdisciplinary Colloquium

It is projected that about two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. Urbanity is thus a central, perhaps even the most defining phenomenon of our contemporary world. This brings major challenges: for example, how can we create enough affordable residential space, how can we satisfy the competing needs of different transport users? How do we deal with demographic changes and how can we adapt our cities to the effects of ongoing climate change? As urban life continues to grow in importance, the question of what kind of cities we want to live in and how we can make our cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, is particularly pressing.

These questions were the focus of the three-day interdisciplinary colloquium "Urban Design. Cities in the Past, Present and Future", which took place in Kiel on 21 - 23 March 2022. On the initiative of Annette Haug and Adrian Hielscher, the colloquium brought together the expertise of a large number of academics from northern German universities ranging from Kiel University and University of Applied Sciences Kiel to the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein as well as the HafenCity University Hamburg. The aim of this colloquium was to create a platform for a transdisciplinary dialogue in order to be able to view and discuss phenomena from as many different perspectives as possible. It was the combination of historical case studies, detailed analyses of phenomena and problems and application-oriented approaches to specific solutions that made the complexity of the phenomenon of the city tangible and highlighted the challenges and diverse requirements for the design of urban spaces and societies.
Selected contributions will also be published in a volume of the ROOTS Booklet Series. In addition, two science journalists will produce a volume for the broad public referring to all major topics discussed during the conference.

The colloquium was co-funded by ROOTS and the DenkRaum Urban Design at Kiel University.

The program of the colloquium can be viewed here

On the track of the construction of medieval masterpieces: ROOTS PhD candidate spent the summer in English cathedral archives

2022_09_27_Marie Jäcker

Marie Jäcker capturing the cathedral of Ely, Cambridgeshire. Copyright: Jelte Ullrich. 

In June and early July this summer, Marie Jäcker, PhD candidate of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS (subcluster ‘Knowledge ROOTS’) at Kiel University’s Department of History, visited several archives of English cathedrals for her PhD project. Here she reports on her archive trip:

In my research, I focus on ‘Knowledge in Financing and Building Cathedrals in the Late Middle Ages’ and I am especially interested in cathedrals in southern England and northern France. This summer, my research took me to numerous English cathedral cities: from Cambridge, to Ely, Norwich, York, Winchester, and Salisbury, and then up to Exeter and Hereford. The aim of the trip was to gather and work with information from original sources connected to the construction of these cathedrals. The possibility to do so proved to be insightful and led to many fascinating discoveries. I encountered sources in formats I did not expect, for example, richly-illuminated manuscripts and medieval watermarks. 

My work consisted mainly of viewing the original building accounts about the medieval construction projects. Very often, these accounts are older than 600 years. They were kept in the form of parchment scrolls, some of which are longer than 3 m. They are sometimes challenging to work with, especially because they are written in abbreviated Latin. In addition, I was able to gather an impression of the cathedrals in order to match the written material with a personal view and to see how much has been altered since the Middle Ages. 

One of the highlights of my journey was the visit to Exeter Cathedral about which I had conducted research for my Master Thesis and where I could work in the archive situated in the medieval bishop’s palace.

In general, cathedral archives are often located directly next to the cathedrals in magnificent historic buildings. During the trip, this was one of the key elements of my PhD project and I could gather a lot of material which will form the basis of my future research. Above all, the direct experience of examining the original documents on site, the direct view of the corresponding cathedrals, and collaboration with the people working in the archives provided me with new perspectives on my subject.

Marie Jäcker


2022_09_27 Marie Jäcker

Parchment scroll with an account written by the Sacrist of Ely who was the administrator of the building process. Copyright: Marie Jäcker. 


A philosopher on excavation: Dana Zentgraf and the ancient gardens of Pompeii

2022_09_08_ROOTS Website_Dana Zentgraf in Pompeii_Photo
Dana Zentgraf excavating the garden area of the Casa della Regina Carolina. Photo: Yuhan Ji

In July and early August, Dana Zentgraf, PhD candidate of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at the Department of Philosophy of Kiel University and a member of the “ROOTS Reflective Turn”, participated in the Casa della Regina Carolina Project (CRC) at the Parco Archeologico di Pompei (link). For the trained philosopher, the CRC project was a great opportunity to experience archaeology in action for the first time. In spite of the extreme heat, working in the field turned out to be a great source of additional information to complement her mainly theoretical philosophical work on ancient Roman texts on gardening. Highly inspiring was the possibility to experience the methods of garden archaeology first-hand, which call for detailed documentation, foreseeing sampling, and experiencing texture and colour of the soil while removing each layer. Oscillating between preserving and destroying, this process can only be understood during the work process. Especially in garden archaeology, where features such as trampled soil or sandy remains of planting beds are highly important, an ‘epistemology of destruction’ is necessary.   

Led by Dr. Caitlín Barrett (Cornell University), Dr. Kathryn Gleason (Cornell University) and Dr. Annalisa Marzano (University of Reading), the CRC project started in 2019 and investigates the house of Queen Regina and its garden area. The relationships between domestic material culture, social performance, and historical change are the core research foci of this study. The 2022 excavation season in the garden area of the house revealed new insights into the design of the garden and the activities that were performed inside it as well as its connection to the house itself and to individual architectural features, for example, the garden shrine. The multi-disciplinary approach of the CRC project includes, among other methods, faunal and botanical analysis as well as survey and mapping to reconstruct an image of the garden and its history as complete as possible. 

Further information about the CRC project at: link

!!SUBMISSION EXTENDED!! Call for Papers: Kiel Conference 2023 — “Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past”

Call for Papers

“Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past Societies” is the topic of the 7th International Kiel Conference of the Johanna Mestorf Academy (JMA). It will be held at Kiel University from 13 to 18 March 2023. Researchers from all disciplines dealing with this topic are invited to submit abstracts for talks or posters for the conference as of now.

During the four-day conference, 38 sessions will be offered, which arise from different aspects of the overarching research questions of the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 “Scales of Transformation” and the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The JMA unites these two projects under one roof. The CRC 1266 explores patterns of transformations of past societies. The Cluster of Excellence searches for the roots and connectivities of social, ecological, and cultural phenomena, as well as processes that have significantly shaped human development in the past.

Contributions that consider these topics from an interdisciplinary perspective are particularly welcome, as are talks or posters that link past social and/or environmental challenges and transformation processes to current ones. We strongly encourage doctoral students to submit abstracts.

Deadline for submission is extendet till 31 October 2022. For more information on the submission guidelines, sessions, and the conference, please click here. Please submit your abstracts via this link. We will announce at the end of November which abstracts have been accepted.

The Kiel Conference of the JMA has been held every two years in Germany's northernmost state capital since 2009. The organising team is looking forward to scientifically exciting and inspiring contributions, as well as stimulating and insightful discussions. During the conference in March 2023, the winners of the essay competition of the Reflective Turn Forum of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS will be announced, and the Johanna Mestorf Award for outstanding doctorates will be conferred.

How Knowledge Travels from Kiel to Kenya. International Colloquium on the Variety of Knowledge in Ancient Greek Literature and beyond

Participants of the "Internationales Kolloquium zur Gräzistik und Wissensforschung der Antike und ihrer Rezeption" at Kiel's harbour promenade
Participants of the "Internationales Kolloquium zur Gräzistik und Wissensforschung der Antike und ihrer Rezeption" at Kiel's harbour promenade. Photo: Tsz Wong

Scientists of the ROOTS Subcluster Knowledge, international guests, and young scholars from five countries met for an international colloquium on Ancient Greek Studies and Knowledge Research and its Reception (“Internationales Kolloquium zur Gräzistik und Wissensforschung der Antike und ihrer Rezeption”) at the International Meeting Center (IBZ) of Kiel University from 1 to 2 July 2022. With regard to historical contexts, a variety of forms of knowledge – religious and theological, literary and timing knowledge – and knowledge transfer were presented and discussed, for example, in the contributions presented by Anne Krause, Giovanni Colpani, Patrick König and Christian Flow. Other contributions shed light on how actors and the knowledge world they were engaged in interacted and evolved through time. Further contributions dealt with secret knowledge from writings, ancient knowledge, and knowledge reception as reflected in literature and philosophy. Knowledge of supranational identity was also examined, for example, by Paula Neumann, Gianluca Ricci, Jens Jaeger, and Alena Maaß. One highlight of the colloquium was the keynote address delivered by Prof. Dr. Morgan Robinson of Mississippi State University. She presented an intriguing journey how knowledge of baking travelled back and forth between Kiel and Kenya. The colloquium concluded with a round-table discussion led by Prof. Christian Flow on early-stage research topics and work-in-progress from young researchers.

Programm: here

Organizer Prof. Dr. Andreas Schwab with keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Morgan Robinson
Organizer Prof. Dr. Andreas Schwab with keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Morgan Robinson . Photo: Tsz Wong

Research and restoration campaign in Vésztő-Mágor (HU): Tracing social inequality with charred grain

Victoria Nuccio_crop
In June 2022, a team from the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence, the University of Georgia, the Field Museum in Vésztő-Mágor, Hungary, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Cardiff University works on the Tell in Vésztő-Mágor. The team cuts back and documents Bronze Age profile walls before it takes protective measures for the profiles. Photo: Victoria Nuccio

New archaeobotanical finds and the question of how to preserve a 40-year-old archaeological excavation as an exhibition were the main focus of a 4-week research campaign led by Paul Duffy of Kiel University’s Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory and colleagues from University of Georgia and the Field Museum in Vésztő-Mágor, Hungary, this June. The research was part of Duffy's work on social inequalities in prehistoric times within the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Vésztő-Mágor is an archaeological site at the edge of the city of Vésztő in eastern Hungary. It is a place where people gathered during the Neolithic, the Copper Age and the Bronze Age (ca 5200-1650 BC). Over the millennia, a settlement mound was thus formed, called a “tell” in archaeological terms. Vésztő-Mágor, seven meters high, is the largest known tell settlement in today's Great Hungarian Plain. "It is also one of three archaeological sites where we are investigating why population aggregations were sustained longer in some periods of history than in others," explains Duffy.

In addition to scientific goals, the Vésztő-Mágor campaign this June focused on the long-term preservation and conservation of the tell. The first excavations took place there back in the 1980s. Afterwards, the trench was left open and covered with a permanent structure in order to showcase the archaeological findings in situ as a museum exhibit. However, in recent years, the preserved excavation profiles became increasingly unstable and already collapsed in places.

The project "Time Will Tell: The Vésztő-Mágor Conservation and Exhibition Program" aims to slow this process and permanently preserve the excavation for visitors. It is funded by the Foundation of the Study and Preservation of Settlement Mounds in the Prehistoric World, Cardiff University, the University of Georgia (USA) and ROOTS.

The team included Attila Gyucha from the University of Georgia and William A. Parkinson from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both had studied Vésztő-Mágor in previous years and served as co-directors for this year's campaign. Conservators Dr. Ashley Lingle and Dr. Jerrod Seifert of Cardiff University assisted the team for the first time.

As the work progressed, it became apparent that some profiles were so fragile and crumbly that the only solution was to protect them behind bricks. To do this, the team made their own mud bricks and mortar using soil from the tell itself, and built a retaining wall against one large profile in the trench.

In addition to the restoration and preservation work, the campaign was also productive from a research point of view. The experts discovered two extensive layers of charred grain on Bronze Age house floors (ca 1800 BC) in the profiles. Sampling and flotation of these deposits yielded rich archaeobotanical material. Measurements of various isotope ratios - including nitrogen isotopes - can provide information on the extent to which plough agriculture was practiced in the settlement, and its association with social inequality. "That's our central focus in the ROOTS-funded project 'Agriculture, Regional Variation and the Development of Social Inequality,' or ARDS," Dr. Duffy says. The analyses are ongoing.  

View of the Tell of Vésztő-Mágor from the outside
View of the Tell of Vésztő-Mágor from the outside. Photo: William Ridge

View of the excavation preserved as an exhibition in the 1980s.
View of the excavation preserved as an exhibition in the 1980s. Photo: Victoria Nuccio

The team examines partially collapsed profiles in the excavation preserved as an exhibition
The team examines partially collapsed profiles. Photo: Victoria Nuccio

Two expansive layers of charred cereals were identified on Bronze Age house floors in the profiles
Two expansive layers of charred cereals were identified on Bronze Age house floors in the profiles. Photo: Paul Duffy

In order to protect some Bornze Age profiles in the exhibition the team produced a great number of mud bricks
In order to protect some Bronze Age profiles in the exhibition the team produced a great number of mud bricks. Photo: Paul Duffy

The new brick wall protects the valuable Bronze Age profiles
The new brick wall protects the valuable Bronze Age profiles. Photo: Paul Duffy


The ‘Lost Cities’ project is back in Mongolia

Team members Henny Piezonka, Ochir Battulga and Odmangai Gansukh excavate the 3 m high waste
Team members Henny Piezonka, Ochir Battulga and Odmangai Gansukh excavate the 3 m high waste heap that accumulated during the use of the Baruun Khüree monastery between the 17th and the early 20th centuries. Photo: Sara Jagiolla, CAU.

For the first time since 2019, the German-Mongolian research project “Abandoned Cities in the Steppe” was able to conduct extensive fieldwork in Central Mongolia in May and June 2022. This year, the focus was on investigations at the monastic city of Baruun Khüree in the Orkhon Valley. Through excavations, remote sensing, and ethnographic interviews, the team collected a wealth of new data to understand the city design, the daily life activities, and the historical significance of Baruun Khüree for the development of Mongolia’s urban network.
Funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation since 2019 as part of the ‘Lost Cities’ programme, the project explores the emergence and perception of permanent settlement structures in Mongolia that evolved during the reign of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty between the 17th and early 20th centuries CE. In the process, previously enigmatic pit formations in the Orkhon Valley have already been attributed to Qing Dynasty military activities in Central Mongolia, and the ruins of the garrison town, Uliastai, have been precisely documented for the first time. In addition to ROOTS PI Henny Piezonka, ROOTS Associate Members Jonathan Ethier and Christian Ressel, and PhD student Enkhtuul Chadraabal, the fieldwork team included colleagues from Germany, Mongolia, the US and Canada. ROOTS also co-funded this year’s field campaign. “The ongoing analysis of the new data over the next months is expected to yield a wealth of new insights on urbanism in nomadic Mongolia,” commented Henny Piezonka.

Lea Kohlhage investigates thousands of bones
Lea Kohlhage investigates thousands of bones from the waste heap of the Baruun Khuree monastery for the Dietary ROOTS subcluster. Photo: Sara Jagiolla, CAU

Read more: here 

New high-resolution climate archive from Andalusia

New high-resolution climate archive from Andalusia
Daniel Barragan, Julien Schirrmacher, Mara Weinelt and Aleta Neugebauer working on the drill core in Kiel 

Heat waves, droughts and water supply problems: Caused by man-made climate change, the Iberian Peninsula is currently developing into a climate hotspot. A look into the past might help in assessing the consequences and finding solutions for upcoming challenges. In cooperation with researchers from Spain and Portugal, scientists from ROOTS and the CRC 1266 are investigating changes in past societies and connectivities with the environment during climate stress.
In spring, the team took a 19-metre-long drill core from a former lagoon northwest of Seville in order to reconstruct environmental changes over the past 6000 years. A special focus of the project is the period about 4200 years ago, when the largest Copper Age settlement in Andalusia was located there. A natural climate change occurred during this era at the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age with distinct traces in the archaeological material. With the new drill core, the team hopes to gain more precise insights into these developments: "This is possibly the first climate archive ever on the Iberian Peninsula where we can see changes in temperatures, precipitation and plant growth per year," says Mara Weinelt, one of the project coordinators. The analysis of the core is now being carried out in laboratories in Kiel.

Conference on Urban Dynamics in the Middle Ages

Gerald Schwedler and Ulrich Müller open the conference
Gerald Schwedler and Ulrich Müller open the conference


The Middle Ages are not only an era of city foundations. Many towns already grew beyond their original boundaries in the late Middle Ages with the construction of new quarters or entire “new towns”. Old cities, gradual city extensions or even “new cities” had to be enabled to functionally interact in light of political, social and economic challenges. Experts from Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic met in Kiel from 9-11 June upon the invitation of the Urban ROOTS subcluster to exchange the latest findings on “Urban expansions and urban dynamics in the Middle Ages”. During the three-day conference, key topics included the material “footprint” of these complex processes, such as walls, streets, and buildings, as well as political and legal issues arising from urban expansions. The conference was successful in combining perspectives on the topography, architecture, constitution, economy and everyday culture of the city expansions in an interdisciplinary way. The contributions will be published in a conference volume.

Experts from Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic met in Kiel
Experts from Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic met in Kiel. Photo: Pawel Cembrzynski


The participants of the 3-day conference. Photo: Pawel Cembrzynski
The participants of the 3-day conference. Photo: Pawel Cembrzynski

Call for Sessions: Kiel Conference 2023 – Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past Societies

Kiel Conference 2023
The international, biennial Kiel Conference of the Johanna-Mestorf-Academy on past environments and societies will take place from 13-17 March 2023. The conference is devoted to socio-environmental research and has taken place since 2009.

For the 7th international conference at Kiel University, the organizers invite you to propose sessions on socio-environmental topics. We welcome subjects that, on the one hand, explore the roots of social, environmental, and cultural phenomena, and processes that substantially marked past human development. On the other hand, we encourage you to submit topics that reflect on transformation patterns within momentous developments of past societies. We seek sessions that address the interplay of environments, social relationships, material culture, population dynamics, and human perceptions of socio-environmental change. Especially welcome are sessions that face such themes from an interdisciplinary perspective, as well as sessions that link past to current social and/or environmental challenges and transformation processes. We encourage the submission of session and abstracts by PhD candidates. Financial support for session chairs not residing in Kiel is available.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us via the e-mail address mentioned above.
We are looking forward to your contributions!


Kiel Conference "Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past Societies"
Interdisciplinary Conference of the Johanna-Mestrof-Academy
13-17 March 2023, Leibnitzstraße 1, CAU Kiel


Call for Sessions:

Deadline for paper submission of Sessions: 30 June 2022
(The decision about accepted sessions will be communicated at the end of July.)
Please send the following materials to:
More information here
Contact: Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller and Dr. Rene Ohlrau
Link to Event here


Call for Essays: Past-Present Connectivities – Can We Identify Recurring Social and/or Environmental Patterns in the Past and Present?

Call for essays

In 1749, the Academy of Dijon organised an essay competition to which one Jean-Jacques Rousseau submitted the now famous winning essay. At a time when received dogmas were coming under increasing pressure, Rousseau wrote in the enlightened spirit of free, reflective, and critical inquiry.

In this spirit, the Reflective Turn Forum of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University, Germany, declares an international open essay competition on the following topic:

» Past-Present Connectivities: Can We Identify Recurring Social and/or Environmental Patterns in the Past and Present? «

Please submit your essay by

New submission date: 31 July 2022 (midnight GMT +1)

by email to
The text of the essay should be in English, anonymised for the purposes of a double-blind peer review, and not exceed 5000 words in length (excluding bibliography).
In your email, please include your name and contact details.
Please submit your essay in the PDF format attached to your email.

The competition is open to contributions from all disciplines, provided they address the competition topic. For more information, see below.

Subject to a peer-review and an editorial process, selected contributions will be published in a joint volume edited by the organisers. In addition, the editors will identify three particularly stimulating contributions whose authors will be invited to contribute to the next International Open Workshop organised in Kiel in March 2023 (travel and accommodation paid by the organisers). The three selected contributors will also receive a prize money of 1000 Euro each.

For questions, contact with “ROOTS Essay Competition” on the subject line.

Find all information here

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 Expansion and Urban Dynamics in the Middle Ages / Stadterweiterung und urbane Dynamik im Mittelalter

Urban Expansion and Urban Dynamics in the Middle Ages

Numerous and large-scale urban expansions in the later Middle Ages indicate a spirit of optimism for the future. In spite of limited resources, expansions were large-scale and designed for considerable growth. With few exceptions, almost all high medieval city rings were expanded. The material “footprints” of these complex processes include new walls, streets, buildings, and sometimes even building types. Politically and judicially, urban expansions primarily required the integration of the “new” and the respective negotiation of legal positions. Old cities, old city extensions or also “new cities” had to be able to functionally interact on political, social and economic levels.

The aim of the conference is to connect perspectives on topography, architecture, constitution, economy and everyday culture with the city expansions in an interdisciplinary way, as well as to classify them in the context of larger economic cycles and upswing phases.


Participation free of charge.
Registrations until 25 May 2022.

Contact:  Martina Göldner

Download programme here (in German)

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.

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

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).

Research Campaign at Danish enclosure

Research Campaign at Danish enclosureGeomagnetic survey in the heath lands (photo: ArkVest, Esben Schlosser Mauritsen).

In September 2021, a team of ROOTS members and cooperating archaeologists from ArkVest - Arkæologi Vestjylland started a week-long excavation, coring, and geomagnetic campaign in the Danish Øster Lem Hede, West-Juteland.
In association with the Subcluster “Roots of Conflict: Competition and Conciliation” (link) the presently still visible rampart and ditch enclosing the elevated portions of a knoll at the edge of the protected heath landscape was investigated. The Subcluster puts an emphasis on developing a better understanding of the functions of fortifications or enclosures in processes of conflict and conciliation.
The site is situated in an archaeologically rich landscape, that shows evidence of occupation throughout Danish prehistory and history. The geographic proximity to the Ringkøbing fjord, intersections of rows of burial mounds still characterizing the landscape, and the Hulbælter (pit row alignments) uncovered by recent excavations and further sites expose the importance of the wider region.
More specifically, eastward adjacent to the site Øster Lem Hede is characterized by celtic fields, an early excavation in the 1930ies confirmed a Pre-Roman Iron Age settlement just a couple hundred meters to the North.

The evaluation and analysis of the campaign is still ongoing, a publication is in preparation.


For further information please contact:
Anna K. Loy or
Solveig Ketelsen

Meet the team:
Joining from ArkVest: Esben Schlosser Mauritsen, Attilio Dona
Joining from ROOTS: Anna K. Loy, Solveig Ketelsen, Henning Andresen, Laurenz Hillmann
 Research Campaign at Danish enclosure
The trench. Note the discolourated section just in front of the three archaeologists: the upper layer of the ditch fill (photo: ArkVest, Esben Schlosser Mauritsen).

Research Campaign at Danish enclosureExcavation of features (photo: ArkVest, Esben Schlosser Mauritsen).

Research Campaign at Danish enclosure
The team following the footpath to the site (photo: Solveig Ketelsen).

Two Weeks with the Taz Sel’kup: Ethnoarchaeological Fieldwork in the West Siberian Taiga

Weat Sibirian Taiga
Fig. 1: Henny (left) and Tanja (right) in one of the Sel’kup boats en route on the Taz River to our final destination (photo by M. Windle).

In August 2021, a ROOTS team, including Henny Piezonka (member of the ROOTS subclusters Dietary ROOTS and ROOTS of Social Inequality) and the PhD candidates Morgan Windle and Tanja Schreiber (both ROOTS Young Academy), was able to conduct essential ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in the depths of the Western Siberia taiga after a break forced by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The joint expedition took place together with the Russian cooperation partners of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk, the EthnoArkheoCentr, Khanty-Mansiysk (Aleksandr Kenig, Andrei Novikov and their team), and the indigenous Northern Sel’kup community.

Living in the north of Western Siberia between the rivers Ob' and Yenisei, Northern Sel’kup families, who still actively use their Samoyed language, engage in a mosaic of traditional mobile lifeways along the Taz River. This includes hunting and fishing, gathering, and the incorporation of small-scale reindeer herding in their subsistence economy for transport purposes. The aim of this fieldwork was to pursue a variety of inquiries into these lifeways and practices, particularly focusing on (1) human-reindeer systems (Morgan Windle’s PhD project), (2) the oral history of indigenous war and conflict (Tanja Schreiber’s PhD project), and (3) the dynamics of dwelling typology between persistence and adaptation from the 17th century AD onwards, when the Sel’kup migrated into this region from the south and took up reindeer husbandry (Henny Piezonka’s project in Dietary ROOTS).

Besides a multi-day journey, which involved a 26-hour train-ride, a helicopter flight, and seven hours by boat to reach our destination in the remote, pathless taiga (Fig. 1), the trip had many highlights. Together with our colleagues, Henny oversaw the excavation of a winter earth house (Sel’kup poi-mot), presumably dating to the late Tsarist or early Soviet period, i.e. approximately one hundred years ago (a terminus post quem was provided by a pine tree growing in the ruin with 80 tree rings) (Fig. 2 and 3). Both the architecture of the pyramidal dwelling and the finds combine elements known a) from the southern Sel’kup region from where the groups had migrated, and b) adaptive forms integrated into Sel’kup lifeways in the north (Fig. 4). Through interviews conducted by Morgan and Tanja with the Sel’kup expert hunter-herders as well as during various excursions, which included hiking to abandoned settlements and visiting other Sel’kup families at their summer camps, the team was able to observe and document some of the unique reindeer herding practices (Fig. 5 and 6), traditional reindeer sledge paraphernalia, forager tools and implements, and the dynamics of forest ecology. Samples for zooarchaeological analyses within the framework of Morgan’s PhD project were collected. The team was also privileged to observe the construction of a traditional fishing log boat (Fig. 7) and was taught how to process and treat reindeer skins, which were immensely unique and informative experiences.

Two weeks in the taiga yielded exciting insights into hunter-gatherer strategies in forest ecosystems, the integration of reindeer herding in these communities, as well as potential processes of reindeer domestication. The team plans to return to the Sel’kup families in early spring and again in the summer of 2022 for more work (Fig. 8).

Acknowledgements: Most importantly, we are greatly indebted to our Sel’kup partners, including Evgeniya Bayakina, Inga Irikova, and Yuri and Sergei Bayakin for sharing their immense expertise, time, and hospitality. Thanks are extended to our Russian collaborators Aleksandr Kenig (NIPI EtnoArkheoCenter & Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk), site director Anastasia Kimpitskaya, and Andrei Novikov (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk), and their team for assistance in conducting the expedition so successfully. Their experience, hospitality, and generosity cannot be overstated. We also thank Graciano Capitini (Bologna) for sharing an Italian approach to ethnoarchaeology and human-animal studies.

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 2: Aerial view of the excavation of a Sel’kup winter house (poi-mot) that was in use ca. one hundred years ago (photo by A. Kimpitskaya).

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 3: Two of our Sel’kup hosts, Evgeniya Bayakina (left) and Inga Irikova (right), not only shared their immense knowledge in order to understand and interpret the poj mot structure but also energetically joined the excavation (photo by A. Kimpitskaya).

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 4: A birch bark vessel decorated with an unusual pattern – better known from the southern Sel’kup area ca. 500 km further south – was discovered in the poi-mot excavation. It indicates persisting contacts between southern and northern Sel’kup groups some two hundred years after the initial migration (photo by A. Kimpitskaya).

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 5: Morgan (left) and Tanja (right) visiting the Bayakin’s reindeer at the summer camp (photo by O. Kruglov).

West Sibirian Taiga

Fig. 6: Curious reindeer from a neighbouring Sel’kup herd coming out of their smokehouse to investigate us (photo by H. Piezonka).

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 7: Expert S. Bayakin (left) in the final stages of constructing a traditional fishing log boat. A. Novikov (right) documents the intricate process (photo by O. Kruglov).

West Sibirian TaigaFig. 8: The ROOTS team with our Russian cooperation partner Aleksandr Kenig (photo: O. Kruglov).

Back to the ROOTS of metallurgy and violence: A dagger from Slovakia

Khurram Saleem provides an overview of a finished project about a prehistoric artefact
The Eneolithic dagger (lenght: ca. 30cm; photo by H. Skorna)

At the end of September, Marketa Havlikova (Masaryk University/Brno) and Dr. Martin Bača (Comenius University/Bratislava) visited the Focus Group “Material Science and Analysis” of the ROOTS Subcluster Conflict and Conciliation (link). Together with Prof. Lorenz Kienle, Dr. Ulrich Schürmann, Khurram Saleem and Henry Skorna, they discussed joint research efforts regarding prehistoric metal objects from Central Europe. A specific focus of this research interest is a new find from Slovakia: a copper dagger, found in the Váh River during the extraction of gravel. A first archaeological assessment of this find indicates that this artefact probably belongs to a rare group of large daggers from Moravia and southwestern Slovakia, dating to approximately 4000 BC. Within the ongoing archaeological debate, this kind of large dagger could also be interpreted as a so-called halberd or “Stabdolch”, a specialised weapon that is better known from the Early Bronze Age.
The aim of this joint interdisciplinary research is to acquire information about the dagger, including its metal composition, the provenance of the metal, the manufacturing processes associated with the find, including specific production techniques, and the use of the weapon.
The dagger was sampled in Kiel and will now be investigated with a wide range of available methods at the Institute of Material Science of Kiel University (link). These studies will help to identify the elemental composition and the structure of the dagger. Combined with further metallographic and use-wear analyses, which will be completed by Marketa Havlikova, these investigations will provide different insights into the production, manufacturing techniques and the use of the dagger.
Even though the object was damaged by a dredging machine, there is a possibility that prehistoric metal wear could be still preserved and identified, e.g. around the rivet holes. With the support of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology of Kiel University (link), another sample will be investigated to determine the ratio of lead isotopes and the composition of trace elements of the used metals. It is expected that these joint efforts will provide more pieces to the puzzle of early metallurgy and violence in prehistory.

Dr. Martin Bača: "We enjoyed the warm welcome in Kiel and benefited greatly from fruitful discussions. After the first promising steps of this joint project, we intend to provide additional samples from other comparable metal finds of the same period for further analysis and comparison. Marketa Havlikova and I will also ensure that the dagger as well as all other future finds will be properly documented by the laboratories of the universities in Brno and Bratislava.
We would like to thank Prof. Lorenz Kienle for the kind invitation, Khurram Saleem, Kathrin Brandenburg and Henry Skorna for the organization of our research stay, Dr. Ulrich Schürmann for the great lab tour, and Prof. Johannes Müller for support and access to the library."

Dr Ulrich Schuermann and Khurram Saleem explain the function of the electron microscope and the possible analysis Dr. Ulrich Schürmann and Khurram Saleem explain the function of the electron microscope and the possible analysis (photo by H. Skorna).

Henry Skorna presents the Eneolithic dagger

Henry Skorna presents the Eneolithic dagger (photo by F. Wilkes / T. Pape).

Bild4Khurram Saleem provides an overview of a finished project about a prehistoric artefact (left to right: Marketa Havlikova, Khurram Saleem and Martin Bača) (photo by H. Skorna).

Follow Tim Kerig´s excavations in Kurdistan, Iraq

Tim Kerig Kurdistan

A few days ago, Tim Kerig, ROOTS member and associate researcher of subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities (link), started an excavation in Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan. The investigated site is situated on a fluvial terrace in closest vicinity to the mounded site of Girda Dasht.

You can follow Tim´s updates from the field and enjoy some beautiful views of the excavation and surroundings here.

This investigation is conducted in cooperation with the directorate of Antiquities at Soran, the General Directorate at Erbil and at Soran University, and together with colleagues from the University of Mainz, Arbeitsbereich Vorderasiatische Archäologie Mainz. The project is funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation; Project: HE 8711/2-1; PI Helms and Kerig) and by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.


You can read an interiew with Tim Kerig here

Tim Kerig Kurdistan
Tim Kerig KurdistanAll photos by G. Rettler

Early career symposium "Homo homini lupus est? Menschenbilder und das Fremde: Interaktion und Wahrnehmung"


The Symposium will take place in German.

Das Early Career Symposium hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, Menschenbilder aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven zu diskutieren. Dazu werden verschiedene Auffassungen des Menschen oder bestimmtet Menschengruppen und ihre Ausdrucksformen sowie ihr Einfluss auf Wissenschaft, Kunst und Gesellschaften nebeneinandergestellt. Es wird angestrebt, die Vielschichtigkeit vom Verständnis von Menschen zu verdeutlichen und die unterschiedlichen Beweggründe und Kontexte zu beleuchten.

Die lateinische Phrase homo homini lupus est, die in leicht abgewandelter Form titelgebend für das Symposium ist, ist eine verkürzte Version eines Verses aus der Komödie Asinaria des römischen Dichters Plautus. Dort heißt es im Wortlaut lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit oder im Deutschen: „Ein Wolf ist der Mensch dem Menschen, kein Mensch, solange er nicht weiß, welcher Art der andere ist.“ Auf diese Weise kreierte bereits Plautus eine versinnbildlichte, mit Anspruch auf Allgemeingültigkeit behaftete Darstellung des menschlichen Charakters – (s)ein Menschenbild.

Die Vorstellungen und Erwartungen, die an das Menschlich-Sein gerichtet werden, korrelieren untrennbar mit den jeweiligen fundamentalen Eigenschaften und Handlungstendenzen, welche eine Gesellschaft sich selbst zuschreibt. Menschenbilder und die Auseinandersetzungen mit ihnen bilden folglich eine wichtige Basis für die Bestimmung dessen, was als normkonformes, normabweichendes oder „fremdes“ Verhaltensmuster beurteilt werden kann.

Das Schlagwort Menschenbild ist jedoch durch seine semantische Unschärfe charakterisiert, sodass sich unwillkürlich die Frage danach auftut, wie ein spezifisches Menschenbild entstehen kann und welche mentalen Komponenten für seine Konstruktion unabdingbar sind. Die Beiträge des Symposiums tragen dazu bei, sich dieser Frage anzunähern.


Freitag, 17.9.21

10:00 Begrüßung
10:15 Antike Menschenbilder der Neuzeit. Das Fremde im Blick / Dr. Ellen Siepe (München)
11:00 Die vielschichtige Anthropologie des platonischen Protagoras-Mythos / Dr. Jan Kerkmann (Freiburg)
11:45 Mittagspause
12:45 The Others in the Art of Ancient Greece / Tatiana Tereshchenko (Moskau)
13:30 Von Persönlichkeiten und Objekten: Wie sich das Menschenbild in der zoologischen Illustration des 19. Jahrhunderts widerspiegelt /  Lisa Pannek (Kiel)
14:15 Kaffeepause
14:30 Menschenbild - Krankheitsbild. Illustration als soziale Praxis / Mona Behfeld (Hamburg/Kiel)
15:15 "Was für eine Insel in was für einem Meer." Behinderungen - Facetten und Möglichkeiten des Menschseins / Helen Akin (Jena)
16:00 Abschluss des ersten Tages

Samstag, 18.9.21

ab 10:00 Eintreten in den Videokonferenzraum
10:15 Homo homini lupus est? – Stadtaufstände und literarisierte Menschenbilder in Gottfried Hagens Reimchronik der Stadt Köln / Catharina Müller-Liedtke (Kiel)
11:00 Feuerbachs "Homo homini deus est" oder warum Religion als Therapeutikum gegen die Ausbrüche der Roheit und Bestialität“ nicht genügt / Christian Loos (Hannover/Münster)
11:45 Kaffeepause
12:00 Die Kodifizierung von Menschenbildern / Aurore Reck (Saarbrücken)
12:45 Neuzeitliche Menschenbilder im Schlagschatten ihrer Entgrenzung / Dr. David Sailer (Wien)
13:30 Abschluss des Symposiums

Das Programm als .pdf Datei kann hier unterladen werden.

Bei Interesse kann ein Link zur Videokonferenz bei Sascha Boelcke angefragt werden.



Sascha Boelcke
Catharina Müller-Liedtke
Gido Lukas
Lisa Pannek
Dana Zentgraf


Henry Skorna and Fynn Wilkes on their 2021 research in the Carpathian Basin (Slovakia)

Wilkes and Skorna Fynn Wilkes (left) and Henry Skorna (right) at the Bronze Age burial site of Jelšovce (Slovakia) (picture: F. Wilkes / H. Skorna)

During the first three weeks of July, two ROOTS PhD candidates, Henry Skorna and Fynn Wilkes, travelled to Western Slovakia to collect original data for their PhD projects on “Inequality and Violence in East Central Europe” (link) and “Social Inequality in the Carpathian Basin” (link), respectively. Both projects are conducted in the framework of the Subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities (link).

The first week of fieldwork was spent working with archaeological material and literature at the University of Bratislava, where they also had opportunities to meet with Slovakian colleagues following a year and a half of only virtual communication. This time offered them access to numerous local scientific publications, which are not accessible through German library catalogues. The following two weeks were spent at the guest house of the Institute of Archaeology of the Slovak Academy of Science in Nitra. There, they collected bone samples for isotope studies as well as data about metal weights.

In addition, bone samples were collected for the project “Inequality and diet at the Bronze Age burial site of Jelšovce” – a shared project in the framework of their individual PhD projects. This study aims to understand how dietary markers, including isotopes, could be used as a proxy for inequality measures. With more than 600 burials, the site of Jelšovce (Nitra region, West Slovakia) one of the largest Early Bronze Age burial sites in the region and has already been studied with a wide set of methods. It therefore offers an exceptional archive for this investigation.

Furthermore, Henry and Fynn measured and weighed Copper and Bronze artefacts of various Bronze Age burial sites from West and Southwest-Slovakia. The weight of these object is a particularly important factor for both PhD projects, since studies about inequality and wealth often take the scarcity of material into consideration. Surprisingly, the weights of metal artefacts are not commonly published in finds catalogues.

In addition, material for C-14 dating was collected in order to date several long-known Bronze Age burial sites. The radiocarbon dates will be used to gain a deeper understanding of the sequence of sites in the region. Furthermore, the samples will shed light on the long-lasting debate on the chronological relationship of the Nitra culture within the Early Bronze Age of South-Western Slovakia.

Henry Skorna and Fynn Wilkes would like to thank the Institute of Archaeology of the Slovak Academy of Science in Nitra, the Archaeological Department of the Comenius University in Bratislava, the Museum Galanta, and the Museum Trnava and the Museum Nové Zámky for their support during the visit.

Wilkes and SkornaEarly Bronze Age burial inventory from the region of Nitra (photo: F. Wilkes).

Wilkes and Skorna
Fynn Wilkes scanning literature at the library of the Comenius University Bratislava (photo: H. Skorna).

Wilkes and Skorna


Workshop "Public Participation in Archaeological Research: Opportunities and Limitations"

Workshop Citizen science© Heritage Quest

Organised by the ROOTS Communication Platform, the workshop “Public Participation in Archaeological Research: Opportunities and Limitations” convenes an international group of scholars to discuss the potential for, and limits of, a critical citizen science of archaeology.

With a long history of volunteer participation and great potential for piquing public interest in cultural heritage, archaeology offers fertile ground for cultivating new models of citizen science research. Yet, thus far, archaeological engagements with citizen science have been limited, drawing principally on crowd-sourced data analysis to inform research aims. In this workshop, we inquire into innovative models and possibilities of public engagement with archaeology. Is a critical, engaged citizen science of archaeology possible? What would this mean for the formulation of research questions, development of research methods, aspects of research ethics, funding scheme, and practical partnerships in fieldwork or remote cooperations? What are the specific challenges and opportunities posed by pursuing rigorous public engagement through the model of citizen science research in archaeology? 



Monday, 07 June 2021 / 14:00 - 18:00 h

14:00-14:15 Welcome / Ilka Parchmann and Andrea Ricci
14:15-15:00 Keynote: Carenza Lewis / Participatory public archaeology CAN simultaneously benefit heritage and people: Evidence, insights and models from recent projects in the UK and Europe
15:00-15:45 Keynote: Monica Smith / Creating a Philosophy of Being and Doing: What is a Citizen and What is Science?
15:45-16:00 Break
16:00-16:20 Antonia Davidovic / Boundary making in hybrid zones. Analysing the differences and similarities between professionals and volunteers
16:20-16:40 Katharina Möller / Public participation in archaeology in Germany and the UK
16:40-17:00 Kerstin Kowarik / Experimental and sustainable: New approaches to public participation in archaeological research
17:00-17:20 Eva Kaptijn / Heritage Quest: Citizen scientists in search of archaeological heritage in the Netherlands
17:20-18:00 Discussion
19:30-ca. 21:00 Spatial Chat with Dinner

Tuesday, 08 June 2021 / 09:00-13:00 h

9:00-9:10 Welcome back and introduction to the morning schedule
09:10 - 9:45 Workshop Breakout Rooms
9:45-10:10 Group conversation
10:10-10:20 Break
10:20– 10:40 Ulf Ickerodt / 200 years of citizen science: Archaeological databases as an interface between different research interests
Jochim Weise / Metal prospecting in Corona times: What has changed?
10:40-11:00 Andres Dobat (Minos) / Private metal detecting as citizen science in Denmark
11:00-11:20 Silke Voigt-Heucke / Citizens create knowledge: Citizen science as a research approach
11:20-11:30 Discussion
11:30-11:35 Break
11:35-12:35 Breakout Rooms
12:35-13:00 Final Discussion


This workshop is organised by the ROOTS Communication Platform and is open to all members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.
Contact: Ilka Rau
Download Programme and Abstracts here

International Workshop: Built Ritual Space

International Workshop: Built Ritual Space

With 14 contributions by international scholars, the colloquium “Built Ritual Space” (22-23 October 2021) dealt with the role of built and roofed, i.e. enclosed, cult buildings in the urban context. Organized by Philipp Kobusch in the framework of the Subcluser Urban ROOTS activities (link), the colloquium placed a particular focus on the interaction between the sacred places and the surrounding urban space.

The participants addressed four different aspects in this context. Contributions addressed spatial design, which determines the forms and degree of interaction. In the second session, the role of the perception of the different areas in this context was discussed. Focusing on specific (ritual) practices that link the two spaces in a concrete way, the connection of the areas via action was thematised. In a fourth topic, contributions emphasised the significance that can be attributed to individual objects and their integration into contexts of action.

Although the architectural structure of cult buildings usually accentuates their isolation and autonomy, the colloquium was able to show that such places nevertheless function as a decisive culmination point for urban agency and perception for many social and ritual processes and practices within the city.

The programme of the colloquium can be seen here
The proceedings of the interdisciplinary colloquium will appear in the ROOTS Studies series. 

Stormy fieldwork on Hallig Hooge

Wadden Sea
The North Sea waves wash over the low summer dike of Hallig Hooge during storm (picture: Bente Majchczack).

During the first week of May 2021, members of the ROOTS Wadden Sea Project (link) and colleagues from the DFG Rungholt-Project conducted a week of geophysical fieldwork on Hallig Hooge, one of the small tidal islands in the German North Frisian Wadden Sea.
In search of High Medieval settlement remains, the team took advantages of favorable tides to continue last year's prospections (link) in the tidal flats surrounding Hooge. The activities started with unforeseen difficulties: on the first day, westerly winds prevented a tidal creek from running dry, denying access to a promising portion of the tidal flats.
In this area, a previously unknown Medieval dike had already been mapped with the implementation of high-precision drone photography. The intention was to study the dike in more detail. Unfortunately, the vagaries of the tides prevented the measurement and proved once again that the Wadden Sea is a difficult and unpredictable landscape for research.
In the following two days, the westerly winds ran up to gale force 10. The water level rose steadily until the waves of the North Sea occasionally crashed over the Hallig's low summer dike. For the team, this was a special opportunity to imagine the living conditions of the Medieval settlers: What was it like in the 14th century to stand on a terp during a storm and watch the water pound over the protective dike? What was it like to not know if the dike could withstand the storm or whether the terp would prove to be built high enough? This was a truly immersive experience of human-environmental relations for the team!
Despite the storm, it was possible to carry out measurements on the Hallig. An early Medieval site could be surveyed with electromagnetic induction (EMI) and ground penetrating radar. What the magnetics already indicated as a possible dwelling mound was revealed as a rectangular elevation below the younger Hallig sediments. According to earlier pottery finds, this could be one of the oldest settlements dating to the 8th/9th century AD, when settlers first had to react to rising water levels and frequent flooding by building terps. A first archaeological excavation on the site is scheduled for July 2021.
By Thursday, the storm had calmed down and it was possible to resume measurements in the tidal flats. As historical records report, a church parish called Hooge was lost to the great storm flood of 1362. During the 1970s, numerous graves were found south of Hooge on the bank of a tidal creek, revealing the location of a former church terp. In 2020, it was possible to map the entire terp site using magnetic gradiometry. Besides the high Medieval terp, numerous traces of younger peat quarries and a dyke structure were identified. During this first 2021 field season, it was possible to refine these previous measurements with EMI, getting a more precise picture of the dike structure associated with the peat quarries and parts of the terp. As the Medieval settlement structures continue in several directions underneath the tidal flats, there is much more potential for further detailed prospections: stay tuned!

Wadden Sea
Dennis Wilken and Bente Majchczack performing EMI measurements on a typical peat quarry site near Hallig Hooge (picture: Ruth Blankenfeldt, ZBSA).

The Wadden Sea project is currently receiving media coverage:
15.05.2021: The first fieldwork in March 2021 led the team into the famous Rungholt-tidal flats near Hallig Südfall and was extensively covered in the Saturday-issue of all sh:z newspapers ("Die mühsame Suche nach den Spuren Rungholts", in Schleswig-Holstein am Wochenende 15./16.05.; page 4-7).
23.05.2021: Radio-feature about the nature and history of the Halligen and the Wadden Sea with coverage of the Rungholt-research: Deutschlandfunk, "Sonntagsspaziergang" at 11:30am-1:00pm
25.05.2021: Radio-feature about one century of Rungholt-research up to the latest advancements in geophysical and geomorphological methods: WDR-5, "neugier genügt" at 10:04am-12:00pm


Conference: "Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne"

Mentale Konzepte

The conference "Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne" aims to discuss mental concepts of the city in dialogue with pre-modern literary and historical studies, archaeology, religious studies and art history. The focus is not only on the remains of real historical cities or historical documents of urban constitution, but above all on textual and visual representations of the city and urbanity in various media forms of the pre-modern era.

The conference will be held in German.


Die Tagung setzt sich das Ziel, mentale Konzepte von Stadt im Dialog der vormodernen Literatur- und Geschichtswissenschaften, der Archäologie, der Religionswissenschaften sowie der Kunstgeschichte zu diskutieren. Im Fokus stehen nicht nur die Überreste realhistorischer Städte oder historische Dokumente urbaner Verfasstheit, sondern vor allem textuelle und visuelle Repräsentationen von Stadt und Urbanität in verschiedenen medialen Formen der Vormoderne.

Untersucht werden erstens die unterschiedlich ausgestalteten Formen der Präsentation von urbanen Topographien. Hierbei gilt es, topische wie auch spezifische Darstellungsmittel in ihrer wirkungsästhetischen Dimension und semiotischen Signifikanz zu beleuchten. Neben den Formen wird nach den Funktionen der verschiedenen medialen Stadtentwürfe gefragt, also nach den Bedeutungskonzepten, denen diese verpflichtet sind, nach den symbolischen Zuschreibungen, die sie erfahren, und nach der Intention, mit der sie eingesetzt werden. Ein besonderes Augenmerk liegt dabei auf mentalen Konzepten von Städten, die an religiösen Mustern und deren symbolischen Qualitäten partizipieren. Zum Dritten gilt es, dem Zusammenspiel von medialem Stadtentwurf und historischen bzw. soziokulturellen Kontexten nachzugehen. Es wird diskutiert, inwieweit textuelle und bildliche Darstellungen auf historische Entwicklungen der Urbanisierung rekurrieren, die abgebildet, kommentiert oder diskursiv verhandelt werden.


Donnerstag, 10. Juni 2021
13:00-13:30 Begrüßung
Sektion I
Formen der Präsentation urbaner Topographien
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Annette Haug

13:30-14:30 Dr. Markus Zimmermann (Bayreuth/Alte Geschichte) / Was macht eine Stadt zur Stadt? Vorstellungen von Städten in literarischen Texten der griechisch-römischen Antike
14:30-15:30 Dr. Marcel Danner (Würzburg/ Archäologie) / Quam magnificus in publicum es! Zu Darstellungen urbaner Architektur in der römischen Staatskunst
15:30-16:00 Pause – Möglichkeit zum Austausch im virtuellen Pausenraum
16:00-17:00 Prof. Dr. Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck (Bonn/Kunstgeschichte) / Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in der frühen profanen Malerei (vor 1350)
17:00-18:00 Dr. Kerstin Geßner (Berlin/Archäologie) / Weltbilder. Die mittelalterliche Stadt als mappa mundi
18:00-19:00 Abendvortrag / Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville (Dresden/Mittelalterliche Geschichte) / Das Imaginaire der mittelalterlichen Stadt

Freitag, 11. Juni 2021
Sektion II
Funktionen medialer Stadtentwürfe und symbolische Zuschreibungen
Moderation (9:00-12:30 Uhr): Prof. Dr. Gerald Schwedler

Moderation (13:30-19:00 Uhr): Marcus Martin, M.A.

09:00-10:00 Prof. Dr. Ulrich Müller (Kiel/Ur- und Frühgeschichte) / Zwischen Wunsch und Befund – die Produktion der mittelalterlichen Stadt aus archäologischer Perspektive
10:00-11:00 Prof. Dr. Susanne Luther (Göttingen/Theologie) / Das himmlische Jerusalem der Johannesapokalypse: Ästhetik und Ethik einer frühchristlichen Stadtbeschreibung
11:00-11:30 Pause – Möglichkeit zum Austausch im virtuellen Pausenraum
11:30-12:30 PD Dr. Iris Grötecke (Frechen/Köln/Kunstgeschichte) / Nordalpine Stadt und fremde Ferne: Jerusalem zwischen Aneignung und Differenzwahrnehmung
12:30-13:30 Pause – Möglichkeit zum Austausch im virtuellen Pausenraum
13:30-14:30 Prof. Dr. Edith Feistner (Regensburg/Germanistik) / Städte als Geschichtskörper: Raum und Zeit in Chroniken von Stephan Fridolin, Sigismund Meisterlin und Hartmann Schedel
14:30-15:30 Dr. Daniel Eder (Göttingen/Germanistik) / dese en willen’s neit gestaden, / dat yeman Coelne moge
schaden. Stadtheilige als Schutz der Sancta Colonia in der Kölner Stadtchronistik
15:30-16:00 Pause – Möglichkeit zum Austausch im virtuellen Pausenraum
16:00-17:00 Dr. Lea Braun (Berlin/Germanistik) / Die Stadt, die keine ist? Städte und Stadtdeskriptionen in Wolframs von Eschenbach ‚Parzival‘
17:00-18:00 Anna Katharina Nachtsheim, M.A. M.Ed. (Bonn/Germanistik) / wan diu borch was sô getân, / daz siz allez mite betwank. Zur literarischen Engführung von städtischer Szenerie und weiblicher Figur in mittelhochdeutscher Epik
18:00-19:00 Dr. Verena Ebermeier (Regensburg/Germanistik) / Stadt ohne Bewohner – Urbanität als metaphysisches Konzept

Samstag, 12. Juni 2021
Sektion III
Soziokulturelle Kontexte medialer Stadtentwürfe
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Bihrer

09:00-10:00 PD Dr. Klaus Kipf (München/Germanistik) / Prof. Dr. Jörg Schwarz (Innsbruck/Mittelalterliche
Geschichte) / Stadt hoch zwei? Die Thematisierung der Stadt in der städtischen Literatur und der Historiographie des Spätmittelalters
10:00-11:00 Dr. Christoph Pretzer (Bern/Germanistik) / Sag, herre got, sag an, / warumb hâstû daz getân – Ottokars aus der Gaal Buch von Akkon als mittelhochdeutsche Städteklage
11:00-11:30 Pause – Möglichkeit zum Austausch im virtuellen Pausenraum
11:30-12:30 Markus Jansen, M.A. (Köln/Geschichte) / Die große Schlacht und ihr später Held. Die wehrhafte Gemeinde als Repräsentantin der Stadt Köln im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert.
12:30-13:30 Abschlussdiskussion


Tagungsleitung: JProf. Dr. Margit Dahm und Prof. Dr. Timo Felber
Anmeldung / Kontakt: Wiebke Witt /

Wir bitten um Anmeldung zur Tagung bis zum 01.06.2021.

Download Flyer here
Download Poster here

Info zur Online-Veranstaltung:
Mit der Anmeldung erklären Sie sich damit einverstanden, dass die mitgeteilten Zugangsdaten ausschließlich dem persönlichen Gebrauch dienen und nicht an Dritte weitergegeben werden dürfen. Mit der Teilnahme an der Veranstaltung akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzrichtlinien von Zoom gemäß

Workshop "Soothing Gardens"

Soothing Gardens
Ancient ideas and practices about plants, natural environments and well-being

This workshop aims at discussing gardens in ancient (mostly Greco-Roman) cultures and practices, with particular attention to ideals of well-being and therapeutical measures. Our intention is to explore concrete experiences and activities: from the subjectivity of sensorial experience (smelling, seeing and hearing in the pleasures a garden offers) to material aspects (recipes, the trade and availability of ingredients, instruments, techniques and practices).


1:30-1:45 p.m.
Dana Zentgraf/Chiara Thumiger: Welcome and introduction

1:45-2:45 p.m.
Laurence Totelin: Plant imports in the Greek and Roman worlds: imaging the other's gardens

2:45-3:45 p.m.
Patty Baker: Roman Conceptions of Wellbeing: Sensory Experiences and Flower Crowns

3:45-4:00 p.m.

4:00-5:00 p.m.
Sean Coughlin: Recreating the Pleasures of Scent in the Greco-Egyptian and Greco-Roman World

5:00-6:00 p.m.
Grazia Piras: Bringing Classical wellbeing practices into everyday’ life

6:00-6:15 p.m.

Laurence Totelin: Plant imports in the Greek and Roman worlds: imaging the other's gardens

Soothing Gardens ROOTS
Garden Party of Ashurbanipal

The Greeks and the Romans imported many of the plants they used in the production of medicines, cosmetics, and perfumes from regions beyond the boundaries of their empires, in particular from the Middle East and Arabia. With those plants travelled stories of the wondrous gardens or wild regions in which they grew, the fantastic animals that protected them, and the rituals involved in collecting them. These stories, some of which are preserved, offer an insight into how Greeks and Romans perceived 'foreign' gardens as places of eudaimonia, but also of lurking dangers, of threats to their identity. In this paper, I examine several of these stories and reflect on the ways in which the Greeks and the Romans both appropriated and othered imported products in their search for healing and wellbeing.  
Laurence Totelin is Reader in Ancient History at Cardiff University. She is a historian of Greek and Roman science, technology, and medicine, and her research focuses on ancient botany, pharmacology, and gynaecology. Her key works include Hippocratic Recipes: Oral and Written Transmission of Pharmacological Knowledge in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece (Brill, 2007); Ancient Botany, with botanist Gavin Hardy (Routledge, 2016); Medicine and Markets in the Graeco-Roman World and Beyond, edited with Rebecca Flemming (Classical Press of Wales, 2020); and Bodily Fluids in Antiquity, edited with Mark Bradley and Victoria Leonard (Routledge, 2021).

Patricia Baker: Roman Conceptions of Wellbeing: Sensory Experiences and Flower Crowns

Soothing Gardens ROOTS
Example of a flower crown based on Greco-Roman descriptions

The history and archaeology of Greco-Roman flower crowns are the main topics of this presentation. I begin by explaining how my study of flower crowns developed out of my research which demonstrates how the Romans believed that the sensory experiences they had in salubrious spaces, such as gardens, were conducive to mental and physical health and wellbeing. Crowns, too, were said by ancient writers to have some health-giving properties that are similar to those had in natural spaces and gardens.
Following the introduction, I use experimental archaeology to demonstrate how I think Roman crowns were made and the types of flowers and greenery used in them. I will also explain the sensory experiences I have when I create and wear them.
Finally, I consider the reception of ancient techniques by floral designers today. Flower crowns are still popular for special occasions, but they are far from environmentally friendly. By using ancient techniques our understanding of Greco-Roman perceptions can help florists and wearers of the crowns chose a more environmentally friendly option. At the same time, creating these crowns also has benefits for mental focus. Thus, I conclude by asking what a Roman technique can teach us about environmental sustainability today and how their perceptions of natural materials might benefit our mental wellbeing.
Dr. Patty Baker is an affiliated scholar and adjunct instructor in the Department of History at Virginia Tech. She is also founder of the online teaching forum, Pax in Natura ( which is a public outreach forum that explores what we can learn from the ancient history and archaeology of gardens, landscapes, floral design, and medicine, to further awareness and find new ways of approaching environmental and personal wellbeing issues today. She has published widely on ancient medicine and most recently her work has focused on sensory experiences in ancient gardens that was thought to promote health and wellbeing. Alongside her academic and outreach work, she is a floral designer. Currently, she is completing a book aimed at both historians and florists on Greco-Roman floral design. She has also worked at Florida State, U.S.A., the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and the University of Kent, UK.
Recent/larger Publications

  • 2018 “Identifying the Connection between Roman Conceptions of ‘Pure Air’ and Physical and Mental Health in Pompeian Gardens (c.150 BC–AD 79): a Multi-sensory Approach to Ancient Medicine.” World Archaeology 50 (3): 404-17.
  • 2017 “Viewing Health: Asclepia in their Natural Settings.” Religion in the Roman Empire 3 (2), 143-63.
  • 2013 The Archaeology of Medicine in the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2012 Baker, P., H. Nijdam, and C. van ’t Land (eds.), Medicine and Space: Body, Surroundings and Borders in Antiquity and The Middle Ages. Leiden: Brill.

Sean Coughlin: Recreating the Pleasures of Scent in the Greco-Egyptian and Greco-Roman World

Soothing Gardens ROOTS
Vienna Dioscorides, botanical picture of an iris

There is an immediate delight that comes from fragrance, and in Greco-Egyptian and Greco-Roman antiquity these pleasures infused everyday life, from the natural fragrance of healing gardens to the aesthetic and medical use of incense and aromatic oils. Even ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Theophrastus believed that the pleasure we take from fragrance was something uniquely human: animals can smell, but only humans experience pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, through scent. In this talk, I discuss some insights into the past and its pleasures that we can gain by recreating these scents. The focus of the talk will be on new approaches to recreating the olfactory heritage of Greco-Egyptian and Greco-Roman perfumery. These approaches form part of a five-year initiative funded by the Czech Science Foundation and the Czech Academy of Sciences: Alchemies of Scent.
Sean Coughlin is Research Fellow in Project A03 of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 980 Episteme in Bewegung funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and at the Institute for Classical Philology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Sean has held visiting and research fellowships in Canada, Germany, and Israel, and has worked as a laboratory technician in neuroscience at McMaster University in Canada and as a cook. His work on ancient Greco-Egyptian perfumery has been exhibited at National Geographic Museum in Washington DC and has been covered by media organizations such as the BBC, the Times, Washington Post, Repubblica and Der Spiegel. He teaches courses on the history of philosophy, medicine and witchcraft, and publishes on Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, science, and medicine, especially the relationship between art and nature. In 2021, he begins as Principal Investigator of Alchemies of Scent, a 5-year interdisciplinary research project focusing on the history of perfumery, botany, chemistry and olfaction, funded by the Junior Star initiative of the Czech Science Foundation and hosted by the Institute of Philosophy (in partnership with the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry) at the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Grazia Piras:  Bringing Classical wellbeing practices into everyday’ life

Soothing Gardens ROOTS Soothing Gardens ROOTS
Roman and Contemporary cosmetic containers

Classical Greek and Roman culture made important contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, botany and more.
Over the centuries this wealth of knowledge has been at times feared, and at times overlooked and dismissed; yet, more recently, there has been a renewed interest towards Graeco-Roman antiquity as a source of inspiration for wellbeing and self-care practices.
What is the role of classical scholars in bringing into contemporary lifestyles the lessons learned from ancient Greek and Roman sources (medical, philosophical and otherwise)?
Two case studies from two different fields, public and private (respectively urban policy and the cosmetic industry) will offer the chance to explore and debate gaps, challenges, and opportunities of integrating Classical wellbeing traditions into everyday’ life.
Grazia Piras holds a PhD in sustainable management of cultural and natural resources. She has over twenty years of experience working for various UN agencies and latterly for IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development) leading policy driven research and delivering global and regional programmes aimed at preserving natural and cultural resources while fostering social cohesion and economic development. She is passionate about how the attribution of values drives economic development, shapes conservation policies and forges lifestyles. She lives in London and works as an independent consultant.


Organisers of the workshop: Chiara Thumiger and Dana Zentgraf
Date: 12 May 2021, on Zoom

This is a workshop within the collaborative project ‘Gardens and Eudaimonia’ link (Reflective Turn Forum and the Subcluster Knowledge ROOTS)

Download Programme and Abstracts here

Our team in Mongolia: Field research on urban sites during the Corona Pandemic

Figure 1: Copter flight of the ruins of the Manchu military garrison Uliastai, Zavkhan aimag, Mongolia, September 2020. Doctoral student Enkhtuul Chadraabal (Kiel University) and Mongolian cooperation partners from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (Photo: G. Odmagnai).

The Mongolian-German research project “Abandoned cities in the steppe: Roles and perception of Early Modern religious and military centres in Nomadic Mongolia”, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (link) and associated with the Urban ROOTS subcluster (link), focuses on the study of the emergence and reception of permanent settlement structures in Central Mongolia, which emerged during the reign of the Manchurian Qing dynasty between the 17th and early 20th centuries AD.
Although the Mongolian-German excavation and survey campaign had to be cancelled in summer 2021 due to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, part of the planned fieldwork could still take place in autumn 2020, when Enkhtuul Chadraabal, PhD candidate in the project, was able to enter Mongolia as a Mongolian citizen. Thus, together with research assistants E. Urtnasan and G. Odmagnai of the Mongolian partner institute, Enkhtuul succeeded in carrying out photogrammetric documentation of the Manchu military city of Uliastai in the Zavkhan Province by copter flights and by creating a 3D digital elevation model of this outstanding modern urban centre (Fig. 1). The city of Uliastai was founded by the Manchurians as a military garrison in 1733 during the Qing reign. It quickly developed into one of Mongolia’s most important political centres and a significant place of economic and cultural life. The city also forms the starting point of the development of today’s modern city (Fig. 2).
In addition, two other Manchu-period sites in the vicinity of Uliastai were flown over and documented. The high-resolution 3D models and the aerial photographs now provide new and detailed information about the structure and location of the Manchu military garrison of Uliastai. These rich datasets will be evaluated and analysed over the next months and they will serve to identify the building structures in more detail when planning future excavations on the site (Fig. 3).

Report: Enkhtuul Chadraabal, PhD student, Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University.
Collaborators: E. Urtnasan, G. Odmagnai, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Department of History and Ethnology, Ulaanbaatar; M. Oczipka, University of Applied Sciences, Dresden.MongoliaFigure 2: New aerial photo of the Manchu military garrison of Uliastai, September 2020 (Photo: Ch. Enkhtuul).

Figure 3: 3D elevation model of the Manchu military garrison Uliastai, based on imagery documented during the field work (Graphics and model: M. Oczipka / HTW Dresden).

Burial mounds reloaded: Geophysics and Social Archaeology

TumulusFigure 1: GPS measurements (Photo: W. Rabbel)

The oldest burial mounds in Central Europe are located in the Mittelelbe-Saale area, Germany. Here, Copper Age societies erected corresponding symbols of power for a socially outstanding group around 3700 BCE. Some of these burial mounds were already excavated at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. One of the oldest burial mounds in Central Europe is the Schneiderberg of Baalberge (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany). The place “Baalberge” gave its name to the first metal-producing culture in Central Europe. The mound is now being reinvestigated in the frame of ROOTS by researchers of the subcluster ‘ROOTS of Inequalities’ (link) and the Technical Platform (link) in cooperation with the State Office for Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt.

The Schneiderberg mound still measures 6m high and 50m in diameter. Investigations of the mound started in September 2020 with non-invasive geophysical deep soundings, including ground radar, electric resistivity tomography and seismic wave sounding. In combination with the information from the old excavations, the measurements suggest that the mound may consist of different construction phases. These will be investigated further in the future. The social archaeological studies will focus on whether the size of the burial mounds is the product of a centuries-long hill biography or whether such an imposing monument was already erected for one person by a group around 3700 BC.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller or Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel


Grabhügel reloaded: Geophysik und Sozialarchäologie

Die ältesten Grabhügel Mitteleuropas befinden sich im Mittelelbe-Saale-Gebiet. Hier errichteten kupferzeitliche Gesellschaften für eine sozial herausragende Gruppe um 3700 v. Chr. entsprechende Symbole der Macht. Bereits am Ende des 19. und zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts wurden einige der Grabhügel angegraben.
Einer der ältesten Grabhügel in Mitteleuropa ist der Schneiderberg in Baalberge (Sachsen-Anhalt, Deutschland). Der Ort „Baalberge“ wurde für die erste metallproduzierende Kultur Mitteleuropas namengebend. Hier wird der Grabhügel zurzeit im Rahmen von ROOTS durch Mitglieder des Subcluster ‚Social Inequality‘ (Link) und der technischen Plattform (Link) in Kooperation mit dem Archäologischen Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt neu untersucht.

Der Schneiderberg ist heute noch 6 m hoch und hat einen Durchmesser von 50 m. Die Untersuchungen begannen im September 2020 mit zerstörungsfreien geophysikalischen Tiefensondierungen, unter anderem mit Bodenradar, elektrischer Widerstandstomographie und Durchschallung mit seismischen Wellen. In Verbindung mit den Informationen aus den Altgrabungen deuten die Messergebnisse daraufhin, dass der Grabhügel aus mehreren Konstruktionsphasen bestehen könnte, die weiter untersucht werden sollen. Im Rahmen der sozialarchäologischen Studien geht es darum, ob die Größe der Grabhügel Produkt einer jahrhundertelangen Hügelbiographie ist oder ob bereits um 3700 v. Chr. ein solches imposantes Monument für eine Person von einer Gruppe errichtet wurde.

Kontakt: Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller oder Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel

TumulusTumulusFigure 2 & 3: Seismic measurements (Photo: W. Rabbel)


Figure 4: First results of geoelectric measurements (Sep. 2020) combined with the excavation section of Paul Höfer (1901) (E. Erkul)

TumulusFigure 5: Elektrik measurements (Photo: E. Erkul


Figure 6: Magnetic measurements (Photo: E. Erkul)TumulusFigure 7: Georadar measurements (Photo: E. Erkul)

Mountains, mires, metal pollution: investigating past sulphidic ore mining in the Arlberg Alps

With accelerating speed and intensity, humans have used, altered and polluted alpine landscapes and ecosystems by hunting, livestock management and the extraction of natural resources. Despite their idyllic appearance, the Alps are nowadays a largely cultural landscape, full of mostly invisible scars by quarries, pits, shafts, fires, deforestation and soil erosion – not to speak of the touristic overuse in recent times.

This summer, while public life and research all over the world were still frozen by the pandemic, peatlands in the Alps were unimpressed and just went on growing – burying and storing carbon and information since the last glacial maximum. In spite of the circumstances, a small team led with Clemens von Scheffer, member of the ROOTS Hazards Subcluster (Link), managed to do fieldwork in the Austrian Alps. The mires they headed for are located close to St. Christoph am Arlberg in the Verwall area, at ca. 2000 m elevation, where only marmots, chamois and occasional hikers, but no viruses, roam. Only 100 years ago, mining operations for ores rich in zinc, lead, arsenic and iron were finally given up here. Yet still today, disintegrating stone buildings, shafts, buddle pits, bare mine dumps and thriving Silene rupestris – a heavy metal indicator plant – bear witness to the operations. While written proof goes back to the end of the Middle Ages, evidence of earlier extraction is inexistent.

Disturbed by cold rain and mosquitoes, the team was able to take several core profiles in direct proximity of the old mines. Back in Kiel, the process of drawing secrets from the old wounds of the murky depths of these mountain peatlands has begun. Not only will the geochemical analyses provide indications for episodes of heavy land use and, potentially, prehistoric mining but also reveal the environmental legacy of these past operations – heavy metal pollution adsorbed to humic substances and to countless tiny moss leaves.

For further information, please contact Dr. Clemens von Scheffer by sending an email to cscheffer(at)

AlpsFigure 1: Cored peatland (left), buddle pit and stone building (right) at St. Christoph am Arlberg. Photo by Clemens von Scheffer.

AlpsFigure 2: Preparing to take the third meter with a Russian peat corer. Photo by Clemens von Scheffer.

AlpsFigure 3: Freshly cored, well-preserved mossy peat. Photo by Clemens von Scheffer.

AlpsFigure 4: Pushing the corer into the mire by hand. Bare mine dump in the background. Photo by Clemens von Scheffer.

ROOTS Social Inequalities Forum: Tales from the Burial Mound

In three sessions, Julian Laabs, Henny Piezonka, Johannes Müller and Andrea Ricci will present a newly established database on burial mounds. The aim of the database is to gather standardized information on as many Eurasian burial mounds as possible as a proxy of social inequality between the Atlantic and Central Asia, from the 5th to the 2nd millennia BCE. The size of the monument itself is seen as representing the economic strength of the deceased or the successors. Data entry is still ongoing. 

The project will be further developed in discourse within the ROOTS Social Inequalities Forum. See also: Link

These three sessions of the Social Inequalities Forum will take place from 10 to 11.30am on Tuesday, October 20, October 27, and November 10.

Uc Tepe
Figure 1: the kurgans of Üçtəpə in eastern Azerbaijan (photo: A. Ricci).

Ethnoarchaeology during Corona times: “Remote” fieldwork in Siberia and “hands on” research on Sami reindeer herding in Finland

Dietary ROOTS PhD candidate, Morgan Windle, was able to participate in an exciting field expedition with colleagues from the University of Oulu to Kilpisjärvi, Lapland, Finland at the end of July, adding to her original travel agenda to the Taiga of Western Siberia (postponed due to the Corona virus) as a part of her doctoral project Human-reindeer interactions in contemporary and ancient Siberian communities (supervised by Prof. Henny Piezonka and Prof. Cheryl Makarewicz).
Our Russian partners were able to carry out the planned expedition to the Taz Selkup communities on the lower course of the Pokal‘ky River in the forest zone of Western Siberia (in association with Henny Piezonka’s project Ethno-archaeological research among the Selkup, a mobile hunter-fisher community in Siberia). Here, families continue to practice mobile hunter-fisher lifeways and incorporate small-scale reindeer herding in their subsistence economy for transport purposes. The objectives of this trip were to document processes of incorporating reindeer husbandry in an economic system otherwise based on foraging, to document known archaeological and ethnographic sites, and to conduct further ethnoarchaeological research via interviews, artefact documentation, as well as participant observation of practices among the Selkup families. In doing this, Aleksandr Kenig and his team were able to circumvent Morgan’s absence and collect data particularly pertinent to her project with the aid of Taz Selkup family members (Fig. 1-2).

Morgan Windle
Figure 1: Russian partners and Selkup family members collecting hair samples from the herd on Morgan's behalf (photo: A. Kenig).

Morgan Windle
Figure 2: Selkup family member collecting hair samples from the herd for isotopic analysis (photo: A. Kenig).

While Russian colleagues were in Siberia, Morgan was in Kilpisjärvi. The aims of this fieldwork were to understand the status of reindeer herding in this part of Lapland (Fig. 3-4) with an emphasis on Sami practices and the tensions between the inhabitants of the tourist town of Kilpisjärvi and indigenous reindeer herders (Fig. 5). Additionally, explorations of the Mallan luonnonpuisto (Malla Strict Nature Reserve) were carried out in search of remnants of bunkers (Fig. 6) and prisoners of war camps from WWII – all of which occupy an important traditional grazing space for reindeer, but which herders are no longer allowed to access legally. For Morgan, she was especially interested in learning from the local Sami reindeer herders (Fig. 7), who grew up in mobile families and could provide insights into the old ways of Sami herding strategies. Additionally, unlike the dense forest of the Siberian taiga, the open upland tundra landscape provided Morgan with the opportunity to understand the potential differences between human-reindeer systems within a more global perspective.

Morgan Windle
Figure 3: One of the many young reindeer that Morgan encountered in Finland (photo: M. Windle).

Morgan Windle
Figure 4:  A herd of reindeer that was encountered on the customs platform between the Finnish and Norwegian borders (photo: M. Windle).

Morgan Windle
Figure 5: View of Kilpisjärvi's most prominent feature in the landscape, the Saana fell (photo: M. Windle). Morgan Windle
Figure 6: Scraps from WWII bunkers on the north side of the Saana fell (photo: M. Windle).

Morgan Windle
Figure 7: One of the reindeer herders who Morgan met on her fieldtrip during an interview on his property (photo: M. Windle).

During particular outings with herders, she not only visited spaces for reindeer milking that were historically used by the Sami people when they were still mobile pastoralists a few decades ago but also observed the traditional round-up spaces for slaughter (Fig. 8) and earmarking (Fig. 9). Notably, cross-cultural interest in Morgan’s work was displayed by the reindeer-herders during these dialogues, in which they were interested in hearing from Morgan about Siberian herding and the endurance of traditional lifeways on the Siberian tundra and taiga. This was an unexpected result of Morgan’s visit in Finland, which demonstrated the impacts of ethnographic fieldwork, i.e. that the investigations on reindeer herding are not only an exercise relevant to scientific research but also for the indigenous communities themselves. It was an incredibly fruitful trip for the project as it yielded additional interregional insights on reindeer husbandry in northern ecosystems and provided an opportunity to enhance the ethnoarchaeological fieldwork required to understand reindeer domestication, while also becoming more informed on circumpolar indigenous issues outside Morgan’s study area and her home country of Canada.

Morgan WindleFigure 8: Traditional place for Sami people to slaughter reindeer, which is now used to round up herds to send them to EU slaughterhouses (photo: M. Windle).

Morgan WindleFigure 9: Camp platform where reindeer-herding families live during the earmarking round-up season. Sitting optimally high in the open tundra, families are able to watch over their herds during this busy time when the herd is separated and marked (photo: M. Windle).

Acknowledgements: The field trip to Northern Finland was hosted by the Departments of Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Oulu in collaboration with the ERC and the Academy of Finland funded project "Domestication in Action" (DiA). Morgan would like to thank Hannu I. Heikkinen (Cultural Anthropology), Vesa-Pekka Herva (Archaeology), and Mathilde van den Berg (DiA doctoral student) for leading the field organization. Thanks are also extended to Aleksandr Kenig (Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology), Andrei Novikov (Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology) and their teams for carrying out data collection on Morgan’s behalf on the taiga during their field research. We are greatly indebted to the Selkup partners for kindly sharing their expertise and resources. Finally, Morgan would like to thank her supervisors Henny Piezonka and Cheryl Makarewicz for their continued support amidst the difficulties during Corona times. Without their encouragement and creative problem solving, these two advancements in Morgan’s work would not have been possible.

History of wood exploitation in the Southern French Alps: Modelling of man-environment relationships at local scales

wood exploitation
wood exploitation
Fig. 1 and 2: In the small village of Courbons (900 m a.s.l., near Digne-les-Bains city), the beams of the stables are very often made of oak, which was at least a hundred years old when they were felled. Nowadays, such big trees are no longer present in the forests of the region.

As part of the Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link), several dendrochronological sampling campaigns have taken place in France since February 2020 under the direction of Dr. Lisa Shindo (contact: The first campaign took place in the ancient theatre of Orange. More on this part of the project can be seen in a short video, in French, which was made for the website of Orange city (link). The following campaigns were conducted in mountain houses and churches at 600-900 m altitude in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (Fig. 1) and at 1100-1700 m altitude in the Hautes-Alpes (Fig. 2). In total, more than 15 mountain buildings dating from antiquity to modern times were studied. Dendrochronological analyses are still in progress, however, we can already deliver first results: in the wood-frames of the Hautes-Alpes buildings (at higher altitudes), only larch (Larix decidua Mill.) could be detected, whereas in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (at lower altitudes), the species are more varied. In particular, there are beautiful oak (Quercus sp.) beams in the stables, i.e. in the oldest levels. Nowadays, however, in the local forests there are no more living oaks that can produce such beams. This means that oak may have been over-exploited at one time, leading to its rarefaction.

An abstract of the paper for the annual conference of the Association for Tree-ring Research can be found here (link). The presentation “Well-designed mountain houses feature the only dated Pinus Sylvestris timbers in the southern French Alps” can be viewed online (link). A detailed article on this study will be published in the coming months.

Furthermore, together with Walter Dörfler and Ingo Feeser from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University, we will conduct sedimentological, palynological and dendrochronological analyses this autumn in order to study annual sedimentary layers of lakes in northern Germany. The aim of this investigation is to identify events common to several lakes as well as characteristic years.

wood exploitationwoodFig. 3 and 4: In the hamlet of Dormillouse (1700 m a.s.l., near Briançon city), the large barns built in the upper levels of the houses are only made of larch. Large quantities of hay were stored there to feed the animals in winter.

Georadar investigations in the Casa del Citarista in Pompeii

Georadar PompeiiThe georadar team at work, Insula del Citarista (I 4), Pompeii. Photo: Tobias Busen, Kiel University.

In the framework of the project ‘The Insula del Citarista (I 4) in Pompeii’ (Link), which is part of the subcluster ‘Urban ROOTS’ (Link), fieldwork took place during the first week of September 2020. The aim of this study is to investigate earlier buildings covered by the extensions of the Casa del Citarista, which occupied large parts of the city block in its last building phase. For this purpose, a team from the Applied Geophysics group of Kiel University (Link) investigated the different areas of the house by means of radar technology (GPR). The results of this study will be discussed and combined with all the available evidence regarding the building phases of this important domus that have been compiled thus far.

Georadar PompeiiThe georadar team at work, Insula del Citarista (I 4), Pompeii. Photo: Tobias Busen, Kiel University.

The Wadden Sea Project starts geophysical investigations

Wadden SeaThe geomagnetic team at work on the tidal flats near Hooge. Photo: Ruth Blankenfeldt, ZBSA.

The Wadden Sea Project, as part of the Subcluster ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards (Link), started its fieldwork last July with two short geophysical measurements on the tidal flats near the small North Frisian island of Hallig Hooge.

Hooge is one of the small islets (“Halligen”) in the Wadden Sea without a protective dyke. The marshland of the island is therefore open to the sea and often flooded during storm surges, forcing the inhabitants to settle on high terps. This way of life does not differ much from that of the early settlers during the High Medieval period, when the marshlands around Hooge had a much larger extent than today. In 1362, the “Grote Mandränke” flood significantly impacted the area, whereby large portions of the land were submerged and turned into tidal flats, leading to large losses of settlements and cultivated marshes.
Applying geomagnetic gradiometry, electromagnetic induction and drone photography, the first geophysical campaign of our project set out to find traces of the High Medieval settlements in the tidal flats south of Hooge. The starting point was an archaeological area documented in the 1970s, when erosion uncovered remains of a terp and several graves, which led to the assumption of the presence of a church. The results of our investigations surpassed all expectation. The geomagnetic prospections documented archaeological structures with high visibility and clarity. Three closely connected terps show traces of buildings and rectangular graves, and possibly also a west-to-east aligned outline of what might have been a church building. Furthermore, the surroundings of the terps show dense signatures of peat quarrying, probably dug in the aftermath of the inundation of the cultural landscape.
Further activities included measurements at the on-land site of an early medieval settlement and an excursion to further early- to high medieval sites on the tidal flats. Hooge has proven to be an excellent test area to map and analyse settlements of various periods and we look forward to the results of the next campaigns.

Wadden Sea Geomagnetic prospections on the tidal flats near Hooge. Drone photo: Dirk Bienen-Scholt, municipality of Hooge.

ROOTS Participates in the First Archaeological Digital Conference in Germany!


This year’s Deutscher Archäologie-Kongress (DAK) will take place digitally for the first time from 21–24 September 2020. Following the slogan “Horizons”, the Archaeological State Department of Schleswig-Holstein in Schleswig, the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology of Kiel University, the Archaeology Museum Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA) invite archaeologists from Germany, Europe and the world to expand and create new perspectives on the past for the future. Attendance is free of charge for all participants.

Kiel is represented at the DAK 2020 by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as well as by the CRC 1266. Both present their research projects in a session on Monday, September 21. The lectures of the ROOTS cluster include its wide range of different projects and disciplines and focus on connectivity in prehistoric societies. Among others, they cover topics such as Ethnoarchaeology in Eurasia, perspectives in Archaeoinformatics, and Conflict Studies. On Monday afternoon, researchers of the CRC 1266 “Scales of Transformation” will present no less exciting results and projects.

The keynote lecture will also be held digitally by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim (Director of the Foundation of the Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Schloss Gottorf) and Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller (Speaker of the Excellence Cluster ROOTS, the CRC 1266 and the Johanna-Mestorf-Academy, Director of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University). The title of the lecture is: “World Cultural Heritage and Cluster of Excellence: From Haithabu to Nagaland – New Horizons in Archaeology”. The scheduling of the keynote lecture will be announced later.

To visit the the Congress Homepage click here
Find the Programme here


ROOTS Social Inequalities Forum: Sequence of events

Social Inequalities Forum The ROOTS Social Inequality Forum is intended as a loose, but interrelated, sequence of events. The ROOTS Social Inequalities forum will not only bring together guests and
members of ROOTS and an interested audience, but it also aims to engage the topics in a more discussion-oriented format. In summer 2020 the ROOTS Social Inequality Forum will take place as a series of virtual meetings.

1. Isotopes and Social Inequality in Western Hallstatt: an afternoon conversation
by Dr. Ralph Grossmann/Dr. Nils Müller-Scheessel
Hallstatt tombs are among the most spectacular archaeological finds from Central Europe. Both speakers have been working on social inequality in the early Central European Iron Age using inter alia isotopic evidence. They discuss the opportunities of the methods. The discussion will be chaired by Tim Kerig.

2. Nagaland - An Ethnoarchaeology of Social Inequality
Prof. Johannes Müller/Dr. Maria Wunderlich
Nagaland, India, offers unique ethnoarchaeological insights not only into megalithic building techniques but also into the wider context of the practice. The speakers will present first results of their ongoing work within ROOTS and the CRC1266

3. Social inequality and internal conflict in ancient Mesopotamia - striking examples from the IIIrd millennium
Dr. Tobias Helms (Universität Mainz)
In the IIIrd millennium social inequality reaches new levels in Mesopotamia leading to several forms of violence between and within urban societies. T. Helms will present spectacular unpublished findings from his ongoing habilitation project related to conflict and social inequality.   

Contact: If you would like to participate please contact Tim Kerig
Date: 8 June / 22 June / 6 July 2020, 4.15-5:45 p.m.
Venue: Virtual meetings
Download programme here


Tracing migration effects in Siberia: Ethnoarchaeological research on changing socio-economic strategies of boreal hunter-fisher-herders

Hunter GathererFig. Pokalky, Wesztern Siberia, Taz Selkup summer station. Reindeer assembling around open-air smoke oven (photo: C. Engel, 2017).

New results on ethnoarchaeological research in Siberia have been recently published by Henny Piezonka and her Russian-German team in the scientific journal “Quaternary International”. This publication is associated with the Subcluster Dietary ROOTS.
The article explores the role of migration as a trigger for transformations of life ways, subsistence strategies, material culture and ethnic identity in hunter-fisher-reindeer herder societies. Fieldwork among the Taz Selkup, a mobile hunter-fisher-herder community that migrated into the northern taiga of Western Siberia three centuries ago, provides insights into the consequences of migration to a new environmental zone. Based on a multi-disciplinary approach, Henny Piezonka and her team are able to identify different factors at play in these processes, such as adaption to new ecological conditions, cultural influences from other groups, and mechanisms of cultural resilience. The results reveal a range of economic and related lifeway adaptations, including niche construction strategies related to the uptake of reindeer husbandry, reflected, e.g., by the use of smoke ovens against mosquitoes to bind the reindeer to the human settlements and feeding fish to reindeer in winter.

The article is free on ScienceDirect before June 25, 2020.


The Subcluster Urban ROOTS is on track of abandoned cities in the steppe

Abandoned cities in the steppe
Project partner Prof. Martin Oczipka creates a 3D model of the monastery complex Baruun Khüree, Mongolia (photo: Sara Jagiolla / CAU).

The Mongolian-German research project “Abandoned Cities of the Steppe”, which participates in the Urban Roots Subcluster, published a preliminary report on the topic titled: “Urban structures from the period of Manchurian reign and their continued effects in present-day Mongolia”.
Since 2019, archaeological-cultural-anthropological research has been conducted on abandoned sedentary settlements of the Early Modern period, on their position in nomadic society and on their reception and role within the local memory culture. First field research, including the creation of high-resolution 3D surface models, focused on the Baruun Khüree monastery and on so-called pit structures, which are interpreted as possible semi-permanent military stations or encampments.
First results already provide evidence on how the examined sedentary structures are interwoven with events of Mongolian history, how the use and meaning of the sites has changed and how current discourses are developed in relation to these sites. This will help us to comprehend the complex interrelationships between sedentary settlements as socio-economic and political nodes, to interpret the loss of these sites and to grasp current perceptions.

Click here to download the article (in German).

Biweekly Colloquia – Summerterm 2020

Biweekly ColloquiaThe Biweekly will be held as a virtual lecture series in summer semester 2020
Due to the Corona crisis, lectures by external foreign guests in front of an audience are not possible. Therefore, PIs from ROOTS and SFB 1266 will provide a virtual replacement.
The talks by the PIs from different disciplines of ROOTS and SFB 1266 will be presented via live streaming. Afterwards, the audience will be able to discuss with the speakers on the Internet.
The theme of the lecture series focuses on “Connectivity and Transformation in Prehistoric Societies”. The purpose of the lectures is to present the speakers’ current research areas and – in terms of content and methodology – to illustrate their links to the topics of “connectivity” and “transformation”.
Annette Haug from the Institute of Classical Studies / Classical Archaeology will start on May 4.
To the program: Link

ROOTS of Inequalities Forum: Double lecture with discussion

Social Inequalities Forum

1. Elche, Schlitten und rätselhafte Holzkonstruktionen: Zur Archäologie in den Torfmooren des Urals

by:  Sabine Reinhold, Natal’ja M. Chairkina, Karl-Uwe Heußner, Dirk Mariaschk (Berlin and Ekaterinburg)

2. Forts, pots and people: New results on Stone Age hunter-gatherer socio-economic systems in Western Siberia

by:  Ljubov‘ Kosinskaja, Ekaterina Dubovceva, Henny Piezonka (Ekaterinburg and Kiel)

The event is jointly organised by the subclusters ROOTS of Inequalities and Dietary ROOTS, and the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology.
Everyone who is interested in this topic is warmly welcome to join the forum.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Henny Piezonka
Date: 24 February 2020, 16.00-18.00 hrs.
Venue: Kiel University, Leibnizstraße 3, Room 123, 24118 Kiel



Material Analysis

Archaeological excavations bring to light and document artefacts of various origin. Frequently these artefacts, particularly their microstructure and composition, raise questions of inter- and transdisciplinary relevance, which cannot be answered by conventional routine analyses. This workshop aims at showing how analytical techniques from the material science, e.g. like electron microscopy methods as well as spectroscopic techniques, can help to clarify some of the questions about the origin and use of these findings.


Session 1 / 10.00-12.00
Presentations related to the theoretical background of the material analysis equipment, including Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), X-Ray Diffraction Method (XRD) and Raman Spectroscopy. After the presentations, there will be a question/answer time.
Lunch Break / 12:00-12:45

Session 2 / 12.45-14.15
Visit to all the material analysis facilities and laboratories of the Technical Faculty, including short  practical overview of the measurements.

Following the workshop, a focus group is scheduled to be established on 9th March 2020 from 10:00-12:00. More information about the focus group will be announced in the workshop.

Date: 25 February 2020
Venue: Kiel University / Technical Faculty / Kaiserstraße 2 / Room A-239 / 24143 Kiel
Contact: Khurram Saleem,, phone +49 (0) 431/880-6182


ROOTS International Conference: “Medical Knowledge and its 'Sitz im Leben': Body and Horror in Antiquity”

Medical Knowledge
(Photo credit: Saulo Bambi - Sistema Museale dell’Università degli Studi di Firenze)

This conference explores ancient and modern concepts of horror with reference to the human body. The aim is to examine how the body processes, affectively as well as cognitively, horrifying experiences and how it can turn itself into a source of horror, e.g. in contexts of sickness and death. While we are firmly aware of the fact that ‘horror’ as a largely post-Romantic concept is not unproblematic when applied to Greek and Latin texts, we will try to show that its classical antecedents and roots must be considered as they might shed light on the ways in which the horrific, as a category that shapes our encounter with various forms of art but also with life itself, is understood today.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Claire Bubb (New York University, USA)    
  • Sean Coughlin (Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic)
  • Maria Gerolemou (University of Exeter, UK)
  • Lutz Alexander Graumann (University Hospital, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Germany)
  • Sophia Luise Häberle (Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany)
  • Lutz Käppel (Kiel University, Germany)
  • George Kazantzidis (University of Patras, Greece)
  • Dunstan Lowe (University of Kent, UK)
  • Nick Lowe (Royal Holloway University of London, UK)
  • Glenn Most (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy / Committee on Social Thought, Chicago, USA)
  • Michael Puett (Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)   
  • Alessandro Schiesaro (University of Manchester, UK)
  • Rodrigo Sigala (independent researcher, Germany)
  • Evina Sistakou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
  • Dimos Spatharas (University of Crete, Rethymno, Greece)
  • Chiara Thumiger (Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Kiel University, Germany)
  • Jesse Weiner (Hamilton College, Clinton, USA)

Date: 18-20 November 2021
Venue: The conference will take place as a hybrid meeting at Kiel University (Room 105, Leibnizstr. 1, 24118 Kiel) + Zoom Videoconference

Link to event and Programme

Download programme here

Download abstracts here


Georgios Kazantzidis (University of Patras, Greece)
Chiara Thumiger (Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Kiel University)

Find the ZOOM-link to the videoconference here

Philosophy of Archaeology: A ROOTS Reflective Turn Forum Workshop

Philosophy and Archaeology

This workshop invites an international and interdisciplinary cast of specialists to Kiel to discuss the role of philosophy and theory in archeology. We work with a broad, inclusive, and interdisciplinary definition of philosophy as the reflective and iterative process of conceptual clarification and paradigm critique. What are the outstanding questions in archaeological theory today? What is the concrete, middle range theoretical import of philosophy to archaeological interpretation of data?

In a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and with a specious time table, the symposium affords the contributors ample time to develop and discuss their thoughts.

This workshop is open to all members of the public and the research cluster ROOTS.

Confirmed speakers:
Jerimy Cunningham (University of Lethbridge)
Caroline Heitz (University of Bern)
Thomas Meier (Heidelberg University)
Julian Thomas (University of Manchester)
Rachel Crellin (University of Leicester)
Constance von Rüden (RUB Bochum)

and from Kiel University:
Vesa Arponen
Tim Kerig
Konrad Ott
Artur Ribeiro

Date: 20-21 February 2020
Venue: Kiel University, Leibnizstr. 1, room 105a+b

Konrad Ott
VPJ Arponen

Download timetable + abstracts here

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.


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

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:

YouTube YouTube

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



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.


Excavations at the fortified Bronze Age settlement Hundisburg-Olbetal

In August 2019, excavations will take place as part of the subcluster “ROOTS of Conflicts: Competition and Conciliation” at the fortified Bronze Age settlement Hundisburg-Olbetal (1500–1200 BCE) in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

In cooperation with the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt, Dr. Maria Wunderlich (contact/link) will conduct excavations in the inner area of the site. Previous geomagnetical prospection documented that this inner area is surrounded by a complex system of concentric deep ditches and is characterized by the presence of cultural layers and settlement pits that hint to intense settlement activities. The excavations will target these contexts in detail. It is expected that the results of these investigations will provide information to reconstruct the relationship between the enclosure and the inner area. Moreover, these investigations will support the contextualization of Hundisburg-Olbetal at a regional level.


Hundisburg-Olbetal. Map of the results of the geomagnetic investigations. The system of concentric ditches is clearly visible.


Call for Papers - Conference "Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne"

Call for Papers:

"Mentale Konzepte der Stadt in Bild- und Textmedien der Vormoderne" Conference
Interdisciplinary Conference of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS (Subcluster Urban ROOTS)
11.-13.06.2020 CAU Kiel

Deadline for paper submission: October 15, 2019
More information (in German) here / hier
Contact: Dr. Margit Dahm-Kruse and Prof. Dr. Timo Felber
Link to Event here

ArchbotLit – The New Search Engine for Literature on Archaeological Remains of Cultivated Plants (June 24, 2019)

In the area of Environmental Archaeology/Archaeobotany at the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology of Kiel University, an important tool has recently been established: with the literature database ArchbotLit on the wiki portal of Kiel University, a tool is now provided for specialists, students and interested members of the public in order to inform them about the history of cultivated plants. The database makes archaeobotanical literature on ancient crops accessible, which is otherwise scattered over a large number of international journals and excavation reports, but also in grey literature. The new wiki platform ArchbotLit is a sustainable continuation of the literature-based online database on archaeological remains of cultivated plants, which was developed by Helmut Kroll, Rainer Pasternak (both from Kiel) and Aleksandar Medović (Novi Sad), and includes literature from the years 1981-2004. ArchbotLit enables access to previous entries via online access at Kiel University and is currently successively expanded with new entries from international experts, including members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the CRC 1266. This makes the ArchbotLit an important hub in which archaeobotanical literature from the worldwide community is bundled and kept up to date. The database makes it possible, for example, to find the earliest records of spelt for the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age.

ArchbotLit – LINK:


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


ROOTS Workshop on "Quantifying Social Inequalities"

ROOTS Workshop

Quantifying Social Inequalities –
New Proxies, New Methods? Possibilities and Limitations to Determine Social Inequalities in Archaeological Contexts

Social inequality is a subject of contemporary concern. Studying past forms and dynamics of inequality enhances our understanding of present social inequality and its consequences. The integration of empirical data from past archives is an enduring challenge in determining social inequality. Methods derived from economics and paleoanthropology, for example, are increasingly used to quantify social inequality in archaeological contexts.

Organised by Dr. Ralph Grossmann (contact/link) in the framework of the activities conducted by the subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities, this workshop will address the current state of research and will gain new insights on the study of past social inequality. Young researchers from different disciplines will gather in Kiel in order to discuss the diverse socio-cultural processes involved in the creation of social inequality as well as multiple methods in quantifying social inequality in past societies. Furthermore, it is expected that the workshop will reflect on the relationship between gained data and models of social inequalities.

Confirmed speakers are: Timothy J. Dennehy and Adrian Chase, Arizona University; Marta Cintas Peña, Seville University; Penny Bickle, University of York; Julian Laabs, Bern University; Arne Windler, Deutschen Bergbau-Museum Bochum, Vesa P. J. Arponen and Nils Müller-Scheeßel, Kiel University.

Date: 7–8 October 2019 (Start: Monday, 7 October 2019, 02:00 p.m.)
Place: Kiel University, Leibnizstraße 1, R. 105





PhD International Seminar and Workshop 12-24 March 2018 in Kohima in Nagaland, India

The Department of History and Archaeology,  Nagaland University, invited junior and senior scientists to discuss matters of monumentality from different viewpoints: the international PhD Seminar “Building Big? Global Scales of Monumentality – an ethnoarchaeological perspective” and the subsequent workshop “Hierarchy and Balance: the role of monumentality in European and North-East Indian Landscapes” took place at the Kohima Campus (Meriema) in Nagaland from 12-24 March 2018. The events were jointly organised by the Nordic School of Archaeology “Dialogues with the Past” (Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway), the CRC 1266 and the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” (GS HDL) at Kiel University.
Central issue of the events was monumentality as an exceptionally diverse and broad phenomenon in archaeological research across the world that occurs in different prehistorical and historical settings. By presenting and discussing papers on different topics, the 5-day PhD seminar concentrates on the significance, meaning and interpretations of monumentality. Major research objectives addressed during the meeting were:

  • What does monumentality mean in different societies? How could a comparative approach be useful to answer archaeological questions on reconstructing social behaviour?
  • Is it possible to connect the very different theoretical approaches on monumentality? How much are especially theories focussing on the organisation of labour and cooperation influenced by western-capitalist views on economy and labour organisation?
  • How can a comparative approach that includes ethno archaeology be useful for studies on monumentality? Where can similarities and dissimilarities be found in broad studies on this topic?

In the following days, the workshop lectures given by Christian Jeunesse (University of Strasbourg), Tilok Thakuria (North-Eastern Hill University, Tura campus, Meghalaya), Luc Laporte (University of Rennes), Marco Mitri (UCC, Shillong), Colin Richards (Orkney College. University of Highlands & Islands) and Johannes Mueller (University of Kiel) provided comparative perspectives on different forms and aspects of monumentality. In the context of the surrounding monumental architecture of the Nagaland Region and with the expertise of participating specialists from Northeast India, these events draw special attention to the “Naga Megaliths”, a connecting facet of the daily experience.
As one main organisers and supporters of the events, the PhD candidate Maria Wunderlich and CRC 1266 and GSHDL speaker Johannes Müller contributed with their long-term experience in research on prehistoric monumentality in Europe achieved during the DFG Priority Programme 1400 “Early monumentality and Social Differentiation”.
Johannes Müller described his staying in India as following: “It’s a new practice to bringing together European and Indian student tandems for presentations on one topic and also to organise the workshop along structural comparisons of Northeast-Indian and European transformations. As a whole, this is a forward-looking format for international academic communication and graduate education on equal terms”.
For Johanna Brinkmann (contact), the workshop offered important ethnoarchaeological insights into rituals and practices of monumental stone architecture that will help her to complete her PhD research on “Theories on Neolithic Monumentality”, that she is conducting in the frame of the CRC 1266 subproject A1 “Theories of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies”. Liudmila Shatilo (contact), PhD candidate for the CRC 1266 subproject D1 “Population agglomerations at Tripolye-Cucuteni mega-sites”, also addresses questions related to monumentality in respect to mega-structures. Mariana Vasilache-Curoșu, PhD candidate and guest of the CRC 1266, also joined the events.


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions