2021 ROOTS Retreat


The 2021 ROOTS Retreat took place in digital form on 27 and 28 May 2021 with the participation of more than 80 members of the cluster. The purpose of this meeting was to strengthen communication between the research units by focusing on the interlinkage groups and the overall research questions of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The six exciting interlinkage groups address overreaching themes, defined as “Mobility and Migration”, “Routes and Networks”, “Resources and Economy, “Ideology and Identity”, “Waste/Abfall”, and “Past-Past & Past-Present”. The intensive discussions, which took place during the retreat, enabled the participants to undertake joint research and plan co-authored papers or other publications, including booklets on specific topics. We expect that these discussions will lead to cutting-edge approaches to unveil and reconstruct past socio-cultural-environmental connectivities.

Stay tuned for more developments of the interlinkage groups.

Classical Archaeology at Kiel University launches new Master's programme in the winter semester

Classical Archaeology MasterThe Temple of Hercules (2nd century AD) in the heart of modern Amman is the most impressive remnant of the ancient city of Philadelphia (photo: Patric-Alexander Kreuz, Kiel University).

The material culture of antiquity is the subject of the new single-subject Masters programme "Classical Archaeology" at Kiel University. With the start of the coming winter semester, students will receive a theoretically and methodologically reflected, contextual approach. The aim of the new Master's programme offers to students the opportunity to build a profile in the breadth of research and knowledge transfer in the subject of Classical Archaeology by deepening their knowledge of monuments, applying sophisticated analytical methods and interpretative research approaches, as well as in expanding their practical skills and experience.
This single-subject Master's programme complements the already established two-subject Master's programme in Kiel. With its orientation, it considers the central focal points of classical archaeological research in Kiel and ensures a close interlocking of research and teaching.
With several sub-projects, Classical Archaeology is also involved in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as well as in the Collaborative Research Centre TransformationsDimensions. Students can thus gain insights into or actively participate in research activities at various stages of their careers. `

More information on this new Master´s programme can be found in the press release (in German) here

Classical Archaeology Master
Villa dei Misterii, Pompeii (photo: Annette Haug, Uni Kiel).

Johannes Müller awarded with Humboldt Fellowship for Swedish-German Cooperation

Swedish-German Science Cooperation
Johannes Müller from the Institute for Prehistory and Early History at Kiel University, Germany. Prof. Müller is speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Center "Scales of Transformation". (Photo: Sara Jagiolla UFG Kiel)

Award for Johannes Müller

The Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) has awarded Johannes Müller, Speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the 30th Humboldt Fellowship for outstanding German researchers. The award is granted annually on the recommendation of Swedish universities to researchers who have fostered the research cooperation between Scandinavia and Central Europe and presented excellent scientific results on topics of Swedish and German research. The RJ is an independent Swedish foundation with the aim of promoting the humanities and the social sciences.

Müller was nominated for the award by the University of Gothenburg, with whose Institute of Historical Sciences the Kiel researcher maintains scientific contacts on the archaeology of the Scandinavian and European region. Archaeological research in Gothenburg is characterized by projects on past societies that use novel methods to investigate the human-environment interaction of past societies. It thus has a similar focus to the successful Kiel archaeological collaborative projects.

"Archaeology in its holistic and long-term historical perspective, especially as a humanities and natural science, offers the opportunity to better understand the challenges of the modern world," Müller explains the scientific context. "Especially in collaboration with Gothenburg, we have shown that modern historical and archaeological research must answer questions about the sustainability of societies, conflict resolution and social inequality in an interdisciplinary way. We know that awareness of the past always has a political dimension. Instead of focussing on foreignness, violence, and disintegration, it is precisely the new results of archaeological research that make us aware that diversity, integration, and the desire for peace have always been crucial to human beings and human societies."

Since the beginning of April, Johannes Müller has now been at Gothenburg University to intensify the joint research work within the framework of the existing Swedish-German cooperation and to participate in several working groups. The research fellowship covers all costs of his six-month stay.

Swedish-German partnership with tradition

The University of Gothenburg is a partner in the Cluster of Excellence "ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies" and in the Collaborative Research Center 1266 "Scales of Transformation: Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies." The collaboration will also extend to Müller's project on the archaeology of vision, funded by the European Research Council under an ERC Synergy Grant, which closely cooperates with the Gothenburg ERC Synergy project "From Correlation to Interpretation of Prehistoric Societies."

How close the cooperation between German and Swedish archaeological and anthropological research has always been is also demonstrated by the CV of the name bearer of the Kiel Johanna Mestorf Academy. The Kiel archaeologist Johanna Mestorf (1828-1909), one of the first museum directors in Germany and the first woman in Prussia to be awarded the title of honorary professor at Kiel University, had become acquainted with essential aspects of scientific archaeology in Sweden and had worked in both Scandinavian and German-speaking countries.

Indeed, structural aspects of science systems are important to Müller in addition to issues of content. "In Germany, around 92 percent of scientists and scholars at universities currently work on fixed-term contracts. This two-tier society in science is the major deficit in Germany's otherwise positive development as a science location. I am curious to see whether Scandinavian universities offer possible solutions on this issue," says Müller. Overall, the stay in Gothenburg is intended to be a window to further develop institutional and scientific networking between Kiel and Gothenburg.

Swedish-German Science Cooperation
It is inherent to archaeology that it is anchored in the cultural and the natural sciences alike. Excavations, such as that of a 5300-year-old megalithic tomb in Wangels, Schleswig-Holstein, form the basis for the database that major projects in both Gothenburg and Kiel work with. (Photo: Sara Jagiolla UFG Kiel)

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller
Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology

Find the German version here

Let's get digging!

Exciting discoveries in the earth: schoolchildren will be able to carry out experiments on all aspects of archaeology at Kiel University's new archäo:labor.

Lets get diggingYoung archaeologists find real pottery shards in the archaeo:lab's excavation site. For this purpose, the team has recreated vessels with patterns from the Neolithic and destroyed them (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

How did people live in the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age? What did they eat? What did their houses look like? And where were the toilets? Schoolchildren from fifth to seventh grade can find the answers to these and many other questions at Kiel Science Factory's archäo:labor, a laboratory for schoolchildren run jointly by Kiel University and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN). After the Easter holidays, the new specialist laboratory team will begin conducting its archaeological experiments in collaboration with the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

"Ab in die Grube" (let's get digging) is the name of the project on the grounds of the Botanic Gardens at Kiel University. Next to the Kiel Science Factory building, an excavation site is ready and waiting for the school classes. School children will go on a discovery tour of the earth set out under a tent roof to protect the young researchers and any finds from the weather. They will use trowels, sieves and planning frames just like Kiel University's experts on their digs. "We have buried a series of finds in the excavation site for the schoolchildren to discover and identify," explained IPN researcher Dr Katrin Schöps, who is responsible for the archäo:labor. The team has filled the excavation site to the brim with detailed finds. The experts made their own Stone Age-style ceramic vessel and then smashed it to create fragments that are as authentic-looking as possible for the specialist laboratory.In one corner of the excavation site, a fireplace was filled with charred plant remains, while in another the fabric remains of pieces of clothing were placed, worn by Bronze Age people who lived in imaginary moorland close by.

"By conducting experiments on all the finds, the school children will be able to draw conclusions about life in the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age, so between around 4,100 and 500 BCE. In the Neolithic Age, hunters and gatherers became settled farmers and herders," explained archeobotanist Dr Walter Dörfler of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University. In the Cluster of Excellence, researchers from the humanities and natural sciences as well as the life sciences and engineering work closely together. They are studying the social, cultural, ecological and economic aspects of past societies.

"The results of our interdisciplinary research form the basis of the content and structure of the archäo:labor," said Dörfler. Five modules were created covering the basic human needs of housing, food, clothing, environment and social interaction, which the school classes will work through in small groups. "The module on social interaction considers the fragments of pottery and the function of ceramics in the past and present," explained Dörfler. The unearthed pottery pieces not only reveal the types of vessels people used in Schleswig-Holstein, they are also evidence of interaction with other regions.

Pollen samples are analysed in the module on the environment. As explained by pollen expert Dörfler, schoolchildren can draw conclusions about certain plant species from these analyses. What did the landscape look like at that time? Was the house in a forest, heathland or arable land? And what does that signify for the food people ate?

Schöps is particularly excited about the module on housing. For this module, the team printed a large-scale outline plan of a Stone Age house found during an excavation. Dark marks on the ground are indications of pillars and walls, fireplaces and waste pits. "The children will have no luck finding a bathroom here," laughed Schöps. "The bathroom question always comes up."

Documentation is the most important task for any young archaeologist. "Regardless of whether this is during the dig, during the experiments or when working under the microscope: observation notes are the be all and end all for experts," said Dörfler and Schöps. "Of course, primarily our work is about making exciting discoveries, but we also document, scrutinise and critically analyse the finds." This is what the everyday life of the university researcher entails. The modules have already been tried and tested within the framework of teacher training sessions and now await the arrival of the schoolchildren.

For the time being, the programme offered by archäo:labor is geared towards the fifth to seventh grades of community and grammar schools. Programmes for higher grades are currently being developed.

Author: Jennifer Ruske

Information and contact:
Tel. 0431 / 880-5916


This article appeared on the Uni Zeit #106. You can find the link to the German version of this article here

Eileen Eckmeier – New ROOTS Professor

EckmeierWith the summer semester 2021, Eileen Eckmeier joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as the new ROOTS professor for Geoarchaeology and Environmental Risks.
A short presentation of Eileen Eckmeier appeared on the last issue of Kiel University Uni-Zeit:
“As a geographer specialising in soil geography and geoarchaeology, I research the relationships between humans and the environment as well as soil and landscape development on various spatial and temporal scales. An important aspect of this research is on changes in soil properties caused by climate change and land use. Current problems include deterioration of soil quality in areas used for farming as well as desertification of what was once fertile land. I am interested in demonstrating the extent to which this affected prehistoric societies. I am also studying the impact of environmental conditions on soils and how changes in soils are connected with the development, maintenance and even abandonment of settlement structures or inhabited areas. Spatially, my research is focused on the Eurasian loess landscapes and steppes, the Near East and the African savannah.”

Welcome to Kiel and ROOTS!

Short vita:
Eileen Eckmeier, 45 years old, born in Neuss. Since April 2021: Professor of Geoarchaeology and Environmental Risks at Kiel University. Previously Professor of Physical Geography specialising in Soil Geography at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich). 2007: Doctoral degree at the University of Zurich.

Wadden Sea Project on Terra X

Wadden SeaFor the Terra X series, a new episode will broadcast a documentary on “Ungelöste Fälle der Archäologie - Verlorene Welten” (“Unsolved Cases of Archaeology - Lost Worlds”) on 14 February 2021. In search of submerged sites and empires, the TV troupe also visited the Southern Wadden Sea area of North Frisia, off the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Here an interdisciplinary team with ROOTS participation investigates the early to late medieval settlement patterns as well as the causes and dynamics of the rise and decline of the early settlements on the tidal flats. Geophysical prospections, aerial drone-photography are coupled with geoarchaeological investigations and archaeological surveys.

Wadden Sea

This Terra X documentary (in German) is already available online here

If you want to know more about the Wadden Sea Project you can contact Bente Majchczack, associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and member of the subcluster ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards.

Ideas and interaction: the 2021 Clusterrat Retreat


On Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22, the members of the ROOTS Clusterrat gathered for the 2021 clusterrat retreat. With a group of up to 32 participants, the retreat aimed to reach a common understanding on the progress of ROOTS after two years as well as to develop perspectives for 2021 and beyond. The retreat produced a large number of concrete and inspiring suggestions to foster cooperation between and across the subclusters on the main research approaches and questions of ROOTS. These outcomes will form the basis for major lines of future work within ROOTS, including the next cluster retreat. 

Due to the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, the retreat convened in virtual spaces. In the process, participants were invited to maximise interaction by experimenting with new digital tools and video conference experiences. This included, for example, conducting discussions in smaller groups in various breakout rooms, using virtual boards to single out major points of discussion, and informally meeting in the evening in virtual spatial rooms for relaxed discussion and chatting. The evening was also enlivened by Ignacio Mundo, the JMA Chair of the winter term, who played his Asturian bagpipe from his sunny garden in Mendoza (Argentina) as well as by the talented guitar player Vesa Arponen. The setting offered the participants both a safe and inspiring virtual space for creative interaction. The experience will be of extreme value for the preparation of upcoming large retreats of all members of ROOTS. 

For this meeting, we were supported by Ms. Christiane Zerfass with her extensive experience in moderating team events. We would like to thank all the participants of the retreat for the inspiring discussions. Thanks are extended to the organising team, and in particular to Romy Plath and Andrea Ricci in supporting the organisation of this virtual event in such a fine manner. 

Here you can see some impressions of the two-day event (documented by Tine Pape):RetreatRetreatRetreat

Obituary – Johannes Bröcker († 19.01.2021)

Johannes Broecker
Professor Dr. Johannes Bröcker, long-standing director of the Institute for Regional Research at Kiel University, passed away much too early on January 19, 2021 after a serious illness at the age of 70.

Johannes Bröcker was born in Kiel in 1950 and studied economics in Freiburg im Breisgau and Kiel. In 1983, he earned his doctorate at Kiel University. His dissertation dealt with economic integration and international trade in Europe. In 1992, he habilitated in Kiel with a thesis on numerical multi-regional equilibrium analyses. In his research, questions of regional redistributions always played an important role. In 1993, Johannes Bröcker accept-ed a professorship for macroeconomics and spatial economics at the Technical University of Dresden. In Dresden after the reunification, he played a central role in establishing the Institute of Transport and Economics at the “Friedrich List” Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences. In 2000, he returned to Kiel, where he took on a Profes-sorship in International and Regional Economic Relations and the management of the Institute for Regional Re-search.

In research and teaching, Johannes Bröcker was an outstanding personality. His research interests focused, in particular, on empirical regional and foreign trade economics. He became internationally known for his work on the measurement of trade barriers and the calculation of spatial general equilibrium models. He also worked on questions of economic growth, distributional effects, resource depletion, and climate economics. Johannes Bröcker was also always interested in historical questions. Thus, he scientifically dealt with the history of German re-gional economists and the contributions of German spatial economic theorists to the development of spatial economics. In particular, he examined the questionable role of German regional economists during the National Socialist era.

Johannes Bröcker was active in the Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes" and after his retire-ment in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In addition to his involvement in the successful application, he worked in the cluster on questions of measuring social inequality in ancient societies. In particular, he succeeded in explaining the problems of inequality measurement in simple terms and in an exemplary way to both young researchers and economic laymen in the cluster.

Johannes Bröcker will leave a big gap both scientifically and personally. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife and family.
German Version
Professor Dr. Johannes Bröcker, langjähriger Direktor des Instituts für Regionalforschung der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, ist am 19. Januar 2021 nach schwerer Krankheit im Alter von 70 Jahren viel zu früh verstor-ben.

Johannes Bröcker wurde 1950 in Kiel geboren und studierte Volkswirtschaftslehre in Freiburg im Breisgau und Kiel. 1983 schloss er seine Promotion an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel ab. In seiner Dissertation beschäftigte er sich mit ökonomischen Integrationsprozessen und dem internationalen Handel in Europa. 1992 habilitierte er sich in Kiel mit einer Arbeit über numerische multiregionale Gleichgewichtsanalysen. Dabei spielte auch immer Fragen nach regionalen Umverteilungen ein gewichtige Rolle. Johannes Bröcker trat 1993 eine Professur für Makroökonomie und Raumwirtschaft an der Technischen Universität Dresden an. Er hat dort nach der Wiedervereinigung eine zentrale Rolle beim Aufbau des Instituts für Wirtschaft und Verkehr an der Fakultät Verkehrswissenschaften „Friedrich List“ gespielt. Im Jahr 2000 kehrte Johannes Bröcker nach Kiel zurück und über-nahm dort einen Lehrstuhl für Internationale und Regionale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen und die Leitung des Instituts für Regionalforschung.

In Forschung und Lehre war Johannes Bröcker eine herausragende Persönlichkeit. Seine Forschungsinteressen galten insbesondere der empirischen Regional- und Außenhandelsökonomik. International bekannt wurde er mit seinen Arbeiten zur Messung von Handelsbarrieren und zur Berechnung räumlicher Allgemeiner Gleichgewichtsmodelle. Er beschäftigte sich aber auch mit Fragen zu ökonomischem Wachstum, Verteilungswirkungen, Ressourcenverbrauch und Klimaökonomik. Johannes Bröcker war immer auch an historischen Fragen interessiert. So hat sich wissenschaftlich auch mit der Historie der deutschen Regionalökonomen und den Beiträgen der deutschen Raumwirtschaftstheoretiker zur Entwicklung der Raumwirtschaftslehre beschäftigt. Dabei hat er insbesondere die fragwürdige Rolle deutscher Regionalökonomen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus beleuchtet.

Johannes Bröcker engagierte sich in der in der Graduiertenschule „Human Development in Landscapes“ und nach seiner Pensionierung im Exzellenzcluster ROOTS. Neben seinem Mitwirken bei der erfolgreichen Antragstellung hat er sich im Cluster mit Fragen zur Messung sozialer Ungleichheit in alten Gesellschaften beschäftigt. Dabei gelang es ihm insbesondere, sowohl Nachwuchsforscherinnen und Nachwuchsforschern als auch ökonomischen Laien im Cluster, die Problematik von Ungleichheitsmessung in einfachen Worten und exemplarisch nahe zu brin-gen.

Johannes Bröcker wird sowohl wissenschaftlich aus auch menschlich eine große Lücke hinterlassen. Unser tiefes Mitgefühl gilt seiner Frau und seiner Familie.

People in ROOTS: Sofia (Sonja) Filatova

Sonja Filatova

The ‘People in ROOTS’ series proceeds with an interview of Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, one of the postdoctoral fellow of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Last summer, you began to work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your research here?
I am involved in the subcluster Dietary ROOTS within the project ‘Genetic Variation in Ancestral Crops’ (link). This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between ancient plant geneticists, molecular biologists and archaeobotanists. We aim to investigate the origin and diversity of cultivated rye (Secale cereale L.) from the perspective of the genome of rye as well as the history of its cultivation. Our main archives are remains of desiccated rye that were used as part of the isolation of half-timbered houses in Central Europe from the Middle Ages until early modern times. As an archaeobotanist, I investigate the botanical remains in these archives to collect information on the physical properties of rye, to specify the human practices that defined its cultivation, to gather relevant information about the immediate surroundings where rye grew, and to look for potential signs of pathogens. My results will provide the historical and archaeobotanical context that is required for a holistic interpretation of the genomic data. Within ROOTS, this study will contribute to a better understanding of how humans and the environment have shaped each other through time by zooming in on the interplay between ourselves and cultivated rye.
More broadly, what are your main lines of research?
I am an archaeologist by training with a specialisation in archaeobotany. Broadly speaking, my main interests in the field of archaeobotany lie in the interactions between humans and plants and how the remnants of these interactions can be used to study past plant domestication, plant economy, food culture, and environment. As an archaeologist, one of my interests focuses on methodological questions concerning processes of deposition, the formation of archaeobotanical archives and how these processes reflect human behaviour and events of deposition. As an archaeobotanist, I am further interested in understanding the complex history of plant management and cultivation practices. Plants have often been viewed as static “natural objects” that can simply be manipulated according to the needs of humans, but as we now understand that plants are in turn able to “manipulate” us, this view has started to change. The development of rye enables an excellent case study on the association of plants and humans through time. Rye initially grew as a weed in wheat and barley fields and acquired traits of domestication via a process known as Vavilovian mimicry rather than selection through human action; it was eventually cultivated thousands of years after its initial appearance.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) in July 2016. During my studies, I specialised in archaeobotany, but I was also trained in the archaeology of the Mediterranean and Northern Netherlands and I participated in a wide array of fieldwork projects, including archaeological excavations, geoarchaeological coring campaigns and ethnoarchaeobotanical studies. In November 2016, I moved to Kiel and started my PhD within the framework of the ‘Collaborative Research Centre 1266: Scales of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ (link). My dissertation focussed on the study of archaeobotanical remains from Kakucs-Turján, a Bronze Age settlement located in modern Central Hungary. The research itself included fieldwork at Kakucs-Turján and a great amount of archaeobotanical lab work that involved the identification of seeds and fruits. Furthermore, I could learn more about the identification of wood charcoal, which has broadened my perspectives on archaeobotanical remains as well as my skills within the field of archaeobotany. I completed my dissertation in December 2019 and defended it in March 2020. In July 2020, I joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as a postdoctoral fellow.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
There is a long list of things that I enjoy doing! For example, I like spending time in my kitchen, experimenting with fermentation, baking, and cooking. I love eating good food and drinking good beverages. I enjoy being lazy on the couch, playing video games, watching a film or series, or listening to music. I am also an active and adventurous person, doing yoga, taking hikes, and travelling close to home as well as to remote destinations. Above all, I like to combine these activities in the company of my partner, family, and friends.
Sonja Filatova is a postdoctoral fellow with the ROOTS subcluster ‘Dietary ROOTS’ (link).

You can contact her at: s.filatova@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Enthusiasm, Excellence and Elections: the 2020 ROOTS Plenary Meeting

ROOTS Plenary Meeting 2020On Friday, December 11, the annual ROOTS Plenary Meeting took place. Due to the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, the meeting convened virtually. With the participation of up to 110 attendees, the ROOTS development of 2020 was reflected. In his report, the ROOTS speaker, Johannes Müller, illustrated how, despite the difficult situation, field and laboratory work took place as well as workshops, colloquia and other public events, which were held hybrid or virtually under the changed conditions. Furthermore, both popular and scientific publication formats were established and printed. He especially thanked the ROOTS PhDs, PostDocs and Young Research Group Leaders for the high level of their commitment and engagement. The interlinkage groups and the joint discourses on social, environmental and cultural connectivity are being pushed forward with full steam. The highlight reports of the individual Subclusters, Platforms, Reflective Turn Forum and Young Academy were enthusiastic. A true palette of diverse activities emerged, ranging from material analyses in the technical laboratories to palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in the Alps.
In the second part of the general meeting, the members elected the new speaker team and the members of the board for the next two years (see below). With an overwhelming majority, Ilka Parchmann and Wolfgang Rabbel were respectively elected and re-elected as the co-speakers as well as Johannes Müller as the speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The individual board members were confirmed in their positions or newly elected.
During the third part of the plenary meeting, the introduction of the new members and their perspectives for ROOTS followed with enthusiasm and impressive research inputs.
Longer than expected, the meeting ended after more than 4 hours, with best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!
Many thanks are extended to Romy Plath and Andrea Ricci for organising the virtual event in such a fine manner.

The results of election can be viewed here.

ROOTS Plenary Meeting

ROOTS Doodle


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions