People in ROOTS: Carenza Lewis

Carenza Lewis

We welcome Professor Carenza Lewis as a JMA Chair from 8 June–3 July (Schleswig) and from 10 October–10 December 2022 (Kiel). She is an expert in public archaeology and has provided the impulse for our Schenefeld public archaeology activity.

How did you get involved in public archaeology?
“In 1993, I was invited to join a new UK archaeological TV series called “Time Team”. This offered an entirely new approach: instead of showing the viewer what had previously been found, the viewer would follow the process of new excavations from start to finish. People loved this. When I left “Time Team” in 2005, I set up a unit at the University of Cambridge to give members of the public a chance to take part in archaeology. Over 15 years, thousands did this, including more than 8,000 teenagers. Their discoveries threw new light on many historical phenomena, such as the Black Death plague pandemic, but we also saw the positive impact that participation had on people – increasing wellbeing, developing skills, building confidence, changing attitudes, and connecting with the past. In 2015, I moved to the University of Lincoln which increased my scope for interdisciplinary research into these social benefits of public archaeology.”

What did you experience when you met the ROOTS archaeologists?
 “I learned about the ROOTS cluster from Prof Claus von Carnap-Bornheim and Prof Johannes Müller at a conference in Moscow in 2019. We realised that the ROOTS programme might offer some potential to conduct public archaeology in Schleswig Holstein as well. But then the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, delaying our plans. Nonetheless, our ideas moved forward. But until the day I arrived in Schleswig to assume a JMA Chair in ROOTS, I had not met most of the people with whom I would be working!”

How do you envisage the cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in this specific context?
 “I am very excited about the collaboration. In spring 2022, residents of Schenefeld in Schleswig Holstein became the first members of the public in Germany to carry out archaeological test pit excavations within their own community. We will analyse the unearthed finds to see what they tell us about the history of this settlement, but we will also explore how people felt about taking part and what they gained from it. We will use the Schenefeld insights to make similar opportunities more widely available in the future.”

The new ROOTS image movie: Complex science in three and a half minutes

ROOTS imagefilm

The scientists of the Cluster of Excellence “ROOTS” are jointly investigating the roots of social, environmental and cultural phenomena and processes that have a lasting impact on human development. In the new image movie of the Cluster of Excellence, members of the research network explain why interdisciplinary work is of fundamental importance. In addition, in three and a half minutes, the movie provides a compact insight into various methods and technologies used by ROOTS from excavations, to the soil laboratory and to sample collection in the bone laboratory.
"Of course, a film of this length cannot cover the entire range of ROOTS research. But it can provide a brief introduction to the topic, highlight initial results and make people curious. That is exactly what the image movie should achieve," remarks the speaker of the cluster, Johannes Müller.    
The film had its premiere during the ROOTS retreat in Kiel in mid May.
Now it can be seen on YouTube in English and German, with or without subtitles.

Digging into the community's own history

Digging into the community's own history
More than 40 citizens of Schenefeld took part in the  campaign in May. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

How old is the municipality of Schenefeld in the district of Steinburg in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany? This is the question that more than 40 Schenefeld citizens addressed last weekend (20-21 May 2022). On Friday and Saturday, they carried out 15 archaeological testpit excavations all over the area of Schenefeld. They were supported by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), the Archaeological Museum Schloss Gottorf (MfA), the Schleswig-Holstein State Archaeological Office (ALSH) and the Kiel Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. 

"Such a joint archaeological project between science on the one hand and citizens on the other is unique in Germany so far," explains Professor Claus von Carnap-Bornheim. He initiated the project together with the State Archaeological Office. "In England, such citizen excavations have been common for a long time. We were inspired by colleagues there," he says. 

Schenefeld is an ideal location for the pilot project, emphasises von Carnap-Bornheim. In 2008, the State Archaeological Office discovered traces of two pit houses near the Bonifatius Church in Schenefeld. They could be dated to the 9th century AD and are indications of one of the longest settlement continuities in Schleswig-Holstein.

"In order to find out more about the structures and dimensions of an early settlement, one would have to carry out large-scale excavations around the church. Of course, this is not possible in the town centre," explains Ilka Rau from the ZBSA. The alternative is many small search excavations at precisely selected points around the church. 

In December 2021, the first information meeting took place with Schenefeld's mayor Johann Hansen, who was immediately enthusiastic. After the municipal council was also brought on board, the scientists determined the exact locations of the testpit excavations and recruited Schenefeld residents who wanted to become archaeologists themselves. They found great support also from Reinhard Heesch from Schenefeld, who has an excellent knowledge of Schenefeld history and archaeology. 

Last Friday morning, the campaign began with a visit of the archaeo:laboratory of the Kiel Science Factory at the community school in Schenefeld. Under the guidance of Dr. Katrin Schöps from the IPN and student assistants, a 6th and a 7th grade class alternately experienced archaeological theory and practice with three search excavations of their own.

The teams of volunteers started work on Friday afternoon. Despite heavy rain showers on Saturday morning, everyone was enthusiastic. The results of the two-day excavation were impressive: from modern heating covers to Early Modern potsherds and Stone Age flakes, a large number of finds were discovered. Among them were two medieval shards that could possibly support the thesis of settlement in the 8th or 9th century. "Of course, we now have to examine and date all the finds precisely before we can make detailed statements," Ilka Rau emphasises, "as soon as there are results, our volunteers will find out first."

On 10 and 11 June, further testpit excavations will be carried out in Schenefeld. The experiences from both dates will also be incorporated into further search excavations with citizens in the future. "We ask the volunteers about their experiences and evaluate the answers scientifically. In this way, we learn how we can better involve citizens in archaeology in the future," says Dr Katrin Schöps. "In any case, the atmosphere in Schenefeld was great and we thank Schenefeld very much for the great cooperation," Claus von Carnap-Bornheim emphasised at the end of the event. 

Digging into the community's own history
Ulrich Baschke, volunteer from Schenefeld, works on one of the testpits. Photo:  Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Digging into the community's own history
Ulrich Baschke, Freiwilliger aus Schenefeld: „Ich bin alter Schenefelder, und wohne hier schon das ganze Leben. Das hier ist unsere Ortsgeschichte.“ Foto Jan Steffen, Cluster Roots
Marei Küppers, Knut Küppers and Marlon Dohrmann found medieval sherds in their testpit. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS


Digging into the community's own history
Success for the volunteer archaeologists from Schenefeld. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

ROOTS assesses mid-term results and discusses future goals

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat

Scientific Advisory Board praises interdisciplinarity and gives hints for further development of the Cluster of Excellence

Studying the past of human societies in order to draw lessons for the present and future - that is the aim of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel Christian Albrechts University. Last week, members of the cluster met with the scientific advisory board at the Kiel Science Center to apply this approach to their own large-scale project. Together, they reviewed the scientific results and successes of ROOTS to date, discussed the priorities for the coming years and possible plans for an application for a second funding period starting in 2026. CAU President Simone Fulda also participated in the discussion and provided valuable input on the development of the German Excellence Strategy.

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat
Looking back at the past 3.5 years of the cluster, the Scientific Advisory Board especially praised the practiced interdisciplinarity in ROOTS. In the Cluster of Excellence, researchers from the fields of archaeology work hand in hand with colleagues from the natural, life, social and historical sciences. "Human societies are very complex. In order to be able to recognize the roots of basic human phenomena, their connectivities and their relation the environment, we need this broad approach. Collaboration across disciplinary and thematic boundaries has even intensified since the start of ROOTS 2019," says cluster spokesperson Johannes Müller from the Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory at Kiel University.  "This broad professional approach is truly unique," confirmed Helle Vandkilde, spokesperson of the Scientific Advisory Board, from Aarhus University (DK). She and the other members of the advisory board expressed their appreciation of the amount of third-party funding that cluster members have raised in recent years. "This makes Kiel one of the world's leading locations in the field of archaeology," said Tim A. Kohler from Washington State University (USA).
At the same time, the international panel gave constructive advice on how the impressive new insights into the past that have been gained in ROOTS so far can be disseminated to society more strongly than before. In this way, ROOTS should contribute even more to a better understanding of current crises and provide help for finding ways out of them.

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat
With a view to a possible follow-up application, both Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, Director of the Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology ZBSA  and the Archaeological Museum Schloss Gottorf, and the CAU President emphasized the importance of the non-university partners. Currently, these include the ZBSA under the umbrella of the Schleswig-Holstein State Museums, the German Archaeological Institute DAI, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education IPN in Kiel.
Further discussions focused, among other things, on how to further intensify the collaboration between the various disciplines as well as possible focal points of a follow-up application. A letter of intent for the follow-up application must be submitted to the German Research Foundation as early as December 2022.

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat
“I experienced the discussion at the ROOTS retreat as very stimulating. I am of course very pleased that the ROOTS Scientific Advisory Board describes Kiel as one of the world's top locations for archaeology and the study of the past as a whole. With the Cluster of Excellence, the Johanna Mestorf Academy and the Collaborative Research Center 1266, we have exceptional expertise in this field, which contributes to the CAU's special profile,” CAU President Simone Fulda concluded.  

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat

"Of course, we cannot determine all the details of our work in the coming years during a two-day retreat. But the lively and constructive discussions showed that there is great enthusiasm within ROOTS. It forms the basis for jointly raising the study of human societies in the past to new levels for our present and future," cluster spokesperson Professor Müller added.
The Cluster of Excellence "ROOTS - Connectivity of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies" was officially granted in 2018 and will run in its first phase until the end of 2025, funded by the German Research Foundation with a total of 33 million euros.

ROOTS Advisory Board Meeting and Retreat

Federal state funding for "Data Campus"

In the presence of Andreas Hennig (from left), KI-Transfer-Hub Schleswig-Holstein, Ina Eirich and Stephan Schneider from Kiel University of Applied Sciences received the funding notification from Dirk Schrödter, Head of the State Chancellery. CAU Vice President Eckhard Quandt and the project participants Dirk Nowotka and Olaf Landsiedel also received a funding notification from the hands of the State Secretary.(photo: Jürgen Hacks,Kiel University)


In order to use artificial intelligence in an interdisciplinary way and to promote digitalisation, the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein has approved two million Euros to Kiel University for the research project "KI@CAU Datencampus Kiel". The successful proposal had been submitted by four computer scienstits, one of them being Matthias Renz, member of both ROOTS and CRC 1266.   
The project aims at boosting the use of artificial intelligence across disciplines, promoting the digitalisation of science in Schleswig-Holstein, and using the latest discoveries from computer science to address current social and economic questions in a targeted manner. 
In order to launch interdisciplinary cooperation in the Data Campus, the scientists will form tandem initiatives with scientists from other disciplines. The tandem related to ROOTS and CRC 1266 will be made up by Professor Matthias Renz and Dr. Tim Kerig working on the topic Big Exchange in the field of Computational Archaeology.  

alle4Collage of the four CAU project leaders (from left): Dirk Nowotka, Matthias Renz, Agnes Koschmider and Olaf Landsiedel.(photo: Jürgen Hacks & Anna Pries, Kiel University) 

Read the press release for further information: 
In Englisch here
In German here


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions