Zeitreisen auf der Kieler Woche / Time travels at Kiel Week.

*** English version below***

Mit dem Exzellenzcluster ROOTS, dem Sonderforschungsbereich 1266, dem archäo:labor und dem ERC-Projekt
Mit dem Exzellenzcluster ROOTS, dem Sonderforschungsbereich 1266, dem archäo:labor und dem ERC-Projekt "XSCAPE: Material Minds" können Besucherinnen und Besucher der Kieler Woche vergangenen Zeiten erkunden. Foto: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Wie haben Menschen seit der Steinzeit ihre Umwelt beeinflusst - und wie hat die Umwelt die Menschen beeinflusst? Wie sind Menschen früher mit Veränderungen umgegangen, wo liegen die Ursprünge von heutigen gesellschaftlichen Vorgängen? Die Vergangenheit zu erforschen, um neue Perspektiven auf die Welt von heute zu erlangen, ist einer der Schwerpunkte an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. Während der Kieler Woche geben mehrere Großprojekte aus diesem Bereich Einblicke in ihre Arbeit und stellen aktuelle Ergebnisse vor.

So zeigen vom Donnerstag, 22.6., bis Sonntag, 25.6., der Exzellenzcluster ROOTS, der Sonderforschungsbereich 1266 "TransformationsDimensionen" und das archäo:labor der Kieler Forschungswerkstatt an der Kiellinie bei der "kieler uni live" anhand interaktiver, virtueller Exponate, aber auch anhand konkreter archäologischer Funde unter anderem, warum Rungholt untergegangen ist, welches Superfood der Bronzezeit auch heute ein Hoffnungsträger ist oder wie lange die Pest die Menschheit schon plagt. Zusätzlich können Besucherinnen und Besucher beim Projekt ERC-"XSCAPE: Material Minds" testen, wie Bilder von bis zu 5000 Jahre alten Artefakten den eigenen Blick lenken.
Vier Vorträge nehmen interessierte Menschen zusätzlich mit ins Mittelalter zur untergegangenen Siedlung Rungholt, in die römische Antike nach Pompeji, zu den frühesten Staaten Mesopotamiens und geben Einblicke in den „Materiellen Geist“.

Alle Details finden Sie


How have humans influenced their environment since the Stone Age - and how has the environment influenced humans? How did people deal with change in the past, where are the roots of fundamental processes that shape today's societies? Exploring the past to gain new perspectives on the world today is a focus at Kiel University. During Kiel Week, several major projects in this area will provide insights into their work and present current results.

From Thursday, 22 June, to Sunday, 25 June, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the Collaborative Research Center 1266 "Scales of Transformation" and the archaeo:lab of the Kiel Science Factory will show as part of the "kieler uni live" programme at the ‘Kiellinie’ on the basis of interactive virtual exhibits, but also on the basis of actual archaeological finds, why the mediaval settlement of Rungholt drowned, which superfood of the Bronze Age is still a source of hope today or for how long the plague has troubled mankind. In addition, visitors can test how images of artifacts up to 5,000 years old direct their own gaze with the "XSCAPE: Material Minds" ERC-project.
Four lectures will take interested people back to the Middle Ages to the sunken settlement of Rungholt, to Roman Pompeii, to the earliest states of Mesopotamia and give insights into "Material Minds”

You can find all details


Archäologische Forschung im Wattenmeer
Archäologische Forschung im Wattenmeer - virtuell und in Vorträgen während der Kieler Woche möglich. Foto: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS.

Der niederländische Antike-Spezialist Miko Flohr berichtet in einem Vortrag über Reichtum und Armut in Pompeji. Copyright: Miko Flohr.

Die italienische Archäologin Marcella Frangipane berichtet in einem Vortrag über frühe Staatenbildung in Mesopotamien. Copyright: Roberto Ceccacci.


Exploring the Guts through Time and Space

Comparative Guts
Colored lithograph by J. Maclise, 1841/1844, depicting the circulatory system and part of the internal organs of a human being (Picture: public domain)

  • International conference in Kiel explores different perceptions of the human body from the Stone Age to today
  • Workshop especially for people with visual impairments offers integrative component
  • Parallel launch of the "Comparative Guts" online exhibition

Sometimes gut feelings can help us make difficult decisions. Sometimes, however, feelings in the guts are medical warning signs. Depending on the context, the inside of our body apparently has different meanings. And: different people perceive their bodies differently. What did people of earlier centuries and millennia know about the inside of their body? What did they associate with it? How does the perception of the inner organs differ between different cultures?

Two events at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel will explore these questions in the coming week: the three-day international conference "Comparative Guts" and the workshop "The Felt Body". While the conference is aimed primarily at a scientific audience, the workshop is aimed specifically at people with visual impairments. Both events were organized by a team around the classical philologist and medical historian. Chiara Thumiger from the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University.

International conference and integrative workshop
During the conference from 7 to 9 June 7 to 9, experts from the historical sciences, archaeology, art history, medical history, anthropology, but also artists will exchange the latest findings in medical history and research on body perception since antiquity.

"At the same time, this topic is ideally suited to include an integrative perspective as well. That is why, together with the art historians Almut Rix and Michaela Wilken, we have expanded the conference programme to include the workshop ‘The Felt Body’. Together with the participants, we want to explore the question of how people with a visual impairment perceive their bodies and especially their organs," explains Chiara Thumiger.

For this, the organisers have invited artists and scientists who will offer a varied five-hour programme. "The approach is multi-sensory, which means that the various activities appeal to the sense of hearing, touch and smell," promises Dr Thumiger.

Launch of the online exhibition "Comparative Guts"
Parallel to the events in the Kunsthalle, the online exhibition "Comparative Guts" will be launched, in the compilation of which not only the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS but also the Kiel University's China Centre and its director Prof. Angelika Messner played a major role. The exhibition shows almost 200 illustrations and photos - from Stone Age rock carvings to textbooks on Chinese medicine and Central American pictorial evidence to modern art performances.

They all also deal with the human and animal internal organs in various forms. "The focus is primarily on the organs located inside the lower torso. They are the ones traditionally associated with nutrition and digestion, but also endowed with emotional, ethical and metaphysical significance, depending on the representation and narrative," says Chiara Thumiger.

30 international experts contributed texts from their respective fields of expertise, which scientifically interpret the images. More than 20 "histories" place the images in different cultural, social, historical or sensory contexts.

"The wide range of visual material on display deliberately aims to avoid a Western or even purely European view. Sensory experience and knowledge of the body, learned anatomy, religious feelings, medical practices, emotions, political sentiments, decorative intentions, art - each of these elements testifies to human reflections on our embodied life, and each is valid in its own way," says Dr Thumiger, summarising the approach of the exhibition, but also of the events at the Kunsthalle in Kiel.


Events at a glance:
Online exhibition „Comparative Guts“

Conference „Comparative Guts“
7 - 9 June 2023
Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Workshop 'The felt body: a multisensory approach' for and with a visually-impaired public
9 June 2023
Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Please register for the conference and the workshop at comparativeguts@gmail.com.


Scientific contact:
Dr. Chiara Thumiger
Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Lost since 1362 - Joint scientific project locates the sunken church of Rungholt in the North Frisian Wadden Sea in Germany

 A metal frame allows archaeological excavations of one square metre in the tidal flats, which can be excavated and documented during one low tide
A metal frame allows archaeological excavations of one square metre in the tidal flats, which can be excavated and documented during one low tide. (Photo: Ruth Blankenfeldt, Schleswig)

The medieval trading center of Rungholt, which is today located in the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage Site and currently the focus of interdisciplinary research, drowned in a storm surge in 1362. Using a combination of geoscientific and archaeological methods, researchers from Kiel University (CAU), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), the Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), and the State Archaeology Department Schleswig-Holstein (ALSH), both in Schleswig, have now succeeded in locating the site of the Rungholt church. Thus, they can now finally clarify a much-discussed research question that has been going on for over 100 years.

Interdisciplinary cooperation as the key to success
Within the framework of two interdisciplinary projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), i.e., the RUNGHOLT project and the Wadden Sea project in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence, research has been conducted for several years on the medieval cultural landscape disappeared in the Wadden Sea. Well known for its mythically exaggerated destruction and an archaeological find situation unique in Europe, Rungholt is a prominent example of the effects of massive human intervention in the northern German coastal region that continue to this day.

The key to the success of the work lies in a close interdisciplinary collaboration. "Settlement remains hidden under the mudflats are first localized and mapped over a wide area using various geophysical methods such as magnetic gradiometry, electromagnetic induction, and seismics," explained Dr. Dennis Wilken, geophysicist at Kiel University. And Dr. Hanna Hadler from the Institute of Geography at Mainz University, added: "Based on this prospection, we selectively take sediment cores that not only allow us to make statements about spatial and temporal relationships of settlement structures, but also about landscape development." Archaeological investigations at selected sites provide unique insights into the life of the North Frisian settlers and repeatedly bring to light significant new finds from the tidal flats.

First large-scale reconstruction of Rungholt's drowned cultural landscape with a central church
In May 2023, a previously unknown two kilometer long chain of medieval terps, which are artificial settlement mounds, was recorded by geophysical prospection near Hallig Südfall. One of these terps shows structures that can undoubtedly be interpreted as the foundations of a church 40 meters to 15 meters in size. First corings and excavations have provided initial insights into the structure and foundations of the sacred building.

"The find thus joins the ranks of the large churches of North Frisia," stated Dr. Bente Sven Majchczack, archaeologist in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence at Kiel University. Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt, archaeologist at ZBSA, added: "The special feature of the find lies in the significance of the church as the center of a settlement structure, which in its size must be interpreted as a parish with superordinate function."

So far, the finds in the area investigated, which covers more than ten square kilometers, include 54 terps, systematic drainage systems, a sea dike with a tidal gate harbor as well as two sites of smaller churches – and now also a large main church. The settlement area found must therefore be regarded as one of the historically reported main sites of the medieval administrative district of Edomsharde.

Erosion threatens cultural remains
In addition to the unique archival character that the mudflats have for the reconstruction of Rungholt's cultural landscape, the project results of recent years also show the extreme endangerment of the cultural traces that are over 600 years old. "Around Hallig Südfall and in other mudflats, the medieval settlement remains are already heavily eroded and often only detectable as negative imprints. This is also very evident around the church's location, so we urgently need to intensify research here", emphasized Dr. Hanna Hadler.

Research projects in the North Frisian Wadden Sea
The research within the framework of the DFG-funded project "RUNGHOLT – Combined geophysical, geoarchaeological, and archaeological investigations in the North Frisian Wadden Sea in the vicinity of the medieval trading centre of Rungholt" is a joint effort of Dr. Hanna Hadler and Professor Andreas Vött of the Natural Hazard Research and Geoarchaeology group at Mainz University, Dr. Dennis Wilken of the Applied Geophysis group at Kiel University as well as Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt of the Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig and Dr. Stefanie Klooß and Dr. UIf Ickerodt of the State Archaeology Department Schleswig-Holstein. Furthermore, Dr. Bente Sven Majchczack und Professor Wolfgang Rabbel cooperated within the project "Socio-environmental Interactions on the North Frisian Wadden Sea Coast" in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence of Kiel University.

A lightweight measuring cart provides large-scale magnetic mapping of cultural traces hidden beneath the surface of today's mudflats
A lightweight measuring cart provides large-scale magnetic mapping of cultural traces hidden beneath the surface of today's mudflats. (Photo:Dirk Bienen-Scholt, Schleswig)

Sediment cores are taken to record settlement remains and reconstruct landscape development at selected sites on the tidal flats
Sediment cores are taken to record settlement remains and reconstruct landscape development at selected sites on the tidal flats. (Photo: Justus Lemm, Berlin)


Publication about the project
Wilken, D., Hadler, H., Wunderlich, T., Majchczack, B., Schwardt, M., Fediuk, A., Fischer, P., Willershäuser, T., Klooß, S., Vött, A. & Rabbel, W. (2022). Lost in the North Sea—Geophysical and geoarchaeological prospection of the Rungholt medieval dyke system (North Frisia, Germany). Plos one, 17 (4), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265463

More information:
Website of the  des ALSH
Website of the "Applied Geophysics" group at Kiel University
Website of the Geopmorphology group at the JGU Institute of Geography
The Wadden Sea project of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS
Information on the Rungholt project on the DFG website
Website of the ZBSA

Press contact
Jan Steffen
Media and Public Outreach, Cluster of Excellence ROOTS
+49 (0)431/880-5485
to the website

Scientific contact in Kiel:
Dr. Dennis Wilken
Institute for Geosciences at Kiel University
+49 431 880-4648

Dr. Bente Majchczack
Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University
+49 431 880-6705

Scientific contact in Mainz:
Dr. Hanna Hadler
Institute of Geography at JGU Mainz
+49 6131 39-24496

Scientific contact in Schleswig:
Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt
Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology
+49 4621 813 – 289

We welcome Miko Flohr as new JMA-Chair

Expert for urban, social and economic history of the Greco-Roman world collaborates with colleagues in the Cluster ROOTS

Mirko Flohr
This month, we welcome Miko Flohr. lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Leiden (Netherlands) as a holder of the Johanna Mestorf Academy Chair for the coming months until 31 July.

Miko Flohr is a renowned expert on the urban, social and economic history of the Greco-Roman world. He started his career with studying Classics in Nijmegen. After finishing his Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology at Radboud University, Nijmegen, in 2010, he was assistant director of the Oxford Roman Economy Project at the Faculty of Classics of the University of Oxford, and Supernumerary Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. He has been researching and teaching at Leiden University since 2013.
In his research, Miko Flohr focuses on the impact of Roman imperial hegemony on urban communities and everyday life, and the extent to which this shapes the archaeological and epigraphic record.

While in Kiel, Miko Flohr will collaborate with colleagues in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, particularly within the Subcluster Urban ROOTS. On Monday, 8 May, he has been giving a lecture as part of the Urban ROOTS lecture series “Stadt und Wasser. A public JMA Chair lecture with Miko Flohr will be announced separately.

Miko Flohr’s profile at the University of Leiden


We welcome Italian archaeologist Marcella Frangipane as new JMA Chair

A public lecture is planned for the end of June

We welcome Marcella
JMA-Chair Marcella Frangipane

With the well-known Italian archaeologist Marcella Frangipane, another international colleague enriches the scientific work of ROOTS as Chair of the Johanna Mestorf Academy since mid-May.

Marcella Frangipane’s research focuses on the rise and early developments of hierarchical and unequal societies, the rise of centralised economies, bureaucracy, and the State in the ancient Near East, with particular reference to Mesopotamian and Anatolian environments. At the core of this research is the long-term excavation in Arslantepe, Anatolia, where she started to work in 1976. In 1990, she took over the direction of this benchmark project, leading it till 2019.

Besides her work in Anatolia, Marcella Frangipane has taught Prehistory and Protohistory of the Near and Middle East and Strategies and Methods of Archaeological Research at the Sapienza University of Rome for undergraduate, master and PhD degrees. She is the author of more than 180 publications in international journals and volumes, among which are five books.
In her latest book, Un frammento alla volta: Dieci lezioni dall'archeologia (One fragment at a time: Ten lessons from archaeology), she deals more generally with the question of what archaeology is about—not discovering individual treasures, but uncovering the roots of crucial phenomena and linking them to the present.

In addition, Marcella Frangipane has been, till 2018, the Editor in Chief of the journal Origini and the Series Studi di Preistoria Orientale (SPO), all published by the Sapienza University of Rome. She is the Editor of the monograph Series Arslantepe, where the final results of the excavations at the site are published. Marcella Frangipane has also participated in field research in Mexico, Italy, Egypt and Turkey, and was field vice-director of the Sapienza excavations at the Late Predynastic site of Maadi (Egypt).

Marcella Frangipane is International Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), member of the Italian Accademia dei Lincei, corresponding member of the Deutsches Archäologische Institut in Berlin, corresponding member of the Archaeological Institute of America and, since 2021, foreign fellow of the British Academy.

For her research at Arslantepe, she has received the Discovery Award by the Shanghai Archaeology Forum (China 2015); the Vittorio De Sica Prize for Science (Archaeology) (Italy 2015); and Rotondi Prize to Art Saviors (Italy 2017). She has also received the honorary PhD by the University of Malatya (Turkey) and the titles of Cavaliere Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana and Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà by the President of the Italian Republic.

During her stay in Kiel, Marcella Frangipane will not only continue existing collaborations with colleagues from ROOTS and further develop new projects, but will also give a public lecture that is planned for the second half of June. Details will be announced in time on the ROOTS website, Mastodon, Twitter other usual channels.

Link to JMA-Chair at the ROOTS Website
Link to Johanna Mestdorf Academy

Henny Piezonka accepts call to 'Freie Universität Berlin'

Henny Piezonka accepts call to 'Freie Universität Berlin'
Henny Piezonka on expedition in Mongolia. Photo: Sara Jagiolla.

The Kiel junior professor for anthropological archaeology, Dr. Henny Piezonka, has accepted an appointment to the W3 professorship for prehistoric archaeology at the Freie Universität Berlin. She will move to the German capital as early as 2023.

Henny Piezonka has been a junior professor at the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University since 2016. She is also PI in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, in the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 "Transformation Dimensions" and was a member of the Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes", from which the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS emerged in 2019.

Her academic career began with studies in Prehistory and Protohistory, Classical Archaeology and Art History at the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Glasgow. In 2010 she was awarded her doctorate at the Free University of Berlin with a thesis on "Die nordosteuropäische Waldzone im Neolithikum. Studies on the groups with early pottery north and east of the Baltic Sea". At this time, she worked as a research assistant at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn as part of the project "Geoarchaeology of the Steppe: On the Reconstruction of Cultural Landscapes in the Orkhon Valley, Central Mongolia", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This was followed by further posts at the University of Greifswald and the German Archaeological Institute before moving to Kiel in 2016.

Henny Piezonka's research focuses on the Neolithic and Early Metal Age in Central and Eastern Europe, hunter-gatherer-fishermen in high latitudes, pastoral nomads in arid and subarctic regions, mobility and sedentarism, conflict and inequality in prehistoric societies. She is involved in ethnoarchaeological studies, most recently in projects in Russia and Mongolia. She works closely with natural and life sciences and other related disciplines. Currently, she is part of an international team that is relaunching the tradition-rich "Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift" as platform for transdisciplinary research.

"Of course we regret that such a talented colleague is leaving us," says Professor Johannes Müller from the Institute of Prehistory and Early History and spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and SFB1266, "at the same time we wish her all the best for her future career and look forward to many more joint projects."

2023 ROOTS Retreat: Members discussed further development of the Cluster of Excellence and the steps towards a second phase of ROOTS

During the ROOTS retreat
During the ROOTS retreat, Professor Simone Fulda, President of Kiel University, pledged the full support of the University for the next ROOTS proposal. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Last week, more than 90 members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University met for an intensive two-day retreat to share scientific findings and engage in discussions regarding the future development of the interdisciplinary research on past human-environmental connectivity. In a highly constructive atmosphere, a special focus was dedicated on the visions for the next application phase within the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Federal States. In late summer 2024, the proposal for a second funding phase of ROOTS has to be submitted. During the retreat there was broad consensus, not only among ROOTS members, that this second phase would be scientifically highly desirable. Professor Simone Fulda, President of Kiel University, pledged the full support of the University for the next proposal: "I sense great enthusiasm and commitment here for the research of the Cluster. These are very important prerequisites for a successful application. The University will support this process in the best possible way," she emphasized.

Before the discussions about the future started, however, the ROOTS members had looked back. All units of the Cluster of Excellence presented their scientific results. These included surprising new insights into the relationship between social inequality and violence in prehistoric societies, as well as fundamental new findings about the genetic basis of today's chronic inflammatory diseases in the Neolithic, or discoveries about how certain medieval economies on the North Sea coast destroyed their own natural foundations, to name but a few. The presentations enabled members from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences to develop a common understanding of the cluster's current progress.

This served as the basis for the following, intense discussions around the roadmap to a successful application for ROOTS 2. "The two days were definitely challenging, but I found them to be very constructive and purposeful, too," says cluster speaker Johannes Müller, "so we were able to identify milestones that we need to achieve over the next months. Some great ideas for new innovative research perspectives were formulated. By fulfilling the aims of our first proposal, we also look into future perspectives that will enable us to expand questions about the past that are relevant to our present challenges.”

Roots speaker Johannes Müller opens the retreat
ROOTS speaker Johannes Müller opens the retreat. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

All units of the cluster present their scientific results
All units of the cluster present their scientific results. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Small working groups discuss the results so far...
Small working groups discuss the results so far... Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

and develop ideas for the next proposal based on them.
And develop ideas for the next proposal based on them. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Welcome to new JMA Chair Axel Christophersen – Public Lecture on 15 May

Axel Christophersen is JMA Chair from April to June 2023. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

How are climate, nutrition, health, and general welfare in medieval cities connected? Norwegian archaeologist Axel Christophersen has been intensively working on these research questions for many years. Currently he is visiting Kiel as a holder of the Johanna Mestorf Academy Chair to discuss his research and exchange results with colleagues from the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, particularly within the Subcluster Urban ROOTS. As part of his visit, he is giving a Public Lecture titled "Why does she act this way"? on 15 May.

In his lecture, he will present an oblique look at interdisciplinary cooperation, opportunities and limitations in archaeological observation, documentation and analysis work. The title of the lecture is taken from a book of Astrid Lindgren, where a subterranean being wonders why two human legs are sticking out of the ceiling of her earth cave. In interdisciplinary projects, one can be confronted with such questions: What is this? Why is it done that way, etc.? Urban archeology, in the Nordic countries and elsewhere, has always been much about experimenting and working with different disciplines. In the wake of such collaborative relationships, notorious challenges arise. Axel Christophersen will reflect on these challenges on the background of his own research in Norway.
Currently, Axel Christophersen is professor for Historical Archaeology at the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim. From 2016 to 2021, he coordinated the cross-disciplinary project “Medieval urban health: From individual to public responsibility AD 1000-1600” funded by Norwegian Research Council.

Between 2002-2013 he was appointed Director of the NTNU University Museum. During his time as director the museum was awarded the Trondheim City´s Residents Associations Award (2009), The Museum of the Year in Norway (2010) and membership in the European Museum Excellence Club - Best in Heritage (2011). In 2013 he returned to his professorship in historical archaeology. In 2014 he was research Fellow at the McDonald Institute of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Since 1994, Axel Christophersen is member of The Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letter.

Public Lecture by JMA Chair Axel Christophersen as part of the “Archäologisches Kolloquium” Series of the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology.
Title: "Why does she act this way?" - An oblique look at interdisciplinary cooperation, opportunities and limitations in archaeological observation, documentation and analysis work.
Date: May 15, 2023 from 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM
Venue: Johanna-Mestorf-Str. 2–6 (Eingang 4, Erdgeschoss, R. 28), 24118 Kiel / hybrid

Download Poster for Lecture Series

A forum for human diversity

New start for the "Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift" at Kiel University

A forum for human diversity
The editorial team of the new EAZ met on the occasion of the Kiel Conference 2023 in mid-March at the Kiel University: Henny Piezonka (Kiel University), Jens Schneeweiß (ZBSA), Martin Furholt ( Kiel University), Bill Angelbeck (Douglas College, Canada), Maria Wunderlich (Kiel University), Anastasia Khramtsova (Cluster ROOTS). Not present was Jerimy Cunningham (University of Lethbridge, Canada, pictured in the frame), who is also part of the new editorial team. © Jan Steffen / Tine Pape, Cluster ROOTS

Human societies are extremely complex. Anyone who wants to understand the cultural-historical development of our species must combine methods and results from numerous disciplines such as archaeology, social and cultural anthropology, palaeoecology, or philosophy. At the same time, many scholars are specializing in increasingly narrow research areas and niches. "Therefore, we need to demonstrate all the more that we can gain valuable new insights by bridging disciplines and approaches," says Dr. Henny Piezonka, professor of anthropological archaeology at Kiel University and member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

She is part of an international team that is now reviving the "Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift" (EAZ), one of the oldest academic forums for the interdisciplinary study of humans and their lifeworlds from antiquity to the present. Now, after a five-year break and a change of the editorial team, a new issue of the EAZ is being published—for the first time with Kiel as the official place of publication. The new, 57th volume is dedicated to one of the fathers of American anthropology, Franz Boas, who received his doctorate in Kiel 142 years ago.

The goal of the EAZ is not only to bridge disciplinary boundaries. It is also about challenging habits and hierarchies of power in academia, combating inequalities and thus enabling new ways of looking at, and understanding, the human condition. "In recent decades, there have been increasingly critical approaches to anthropology and archaeology rooted in postcolonial, indigenous, feminist, and queer concerns. They challenge outdated research that has been very male, Western, and dominated by the English language," explains Prof. Dr. Martin Furholt of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University and member of the editorial board of the new EAZ

"The combination of anthropological and archaeological research, including a revival of transdisciplinary specialties such as ethnoarchaeology, can amplify alternative and previously disadvantaged voices in a way that contributes to the decolonization of the disciplines," adds his colleague Henny Piezonka.

In this way, the EAZ aims to provide a critical and self-reflexive view on current global challenges such as social inequality, climate change, and indigenous sovereignty. In doing so, the new editorial team builds on the journal's long history as a cross-disciplinary medium.

Founded in East Berlin in 1953, the EAZ follows research traditions that emerged in Germany in the mid-19th century, integrating various approaches to archaeology and anthropology. This tradition also influenced Franz Boas, who is considered one of the pioneers of cultural anthropology in the United States.

In Europe, however, the fields were institutionally separated in the 20th century. The EAZ stood largely alone with its transdisciplinary orientation until the early 21st century. Between 2009 and 2018, it was published in Leipzig and increasingly incorporated theoretical and philosophical contributions as well as analyses of the history of archaeological thought.

With its relaunch at Kiel University, the EAZ is now dedicated to research at the intersections of archaeology, sociocultural anthropology, and philosophy, particularly the relationships between society, culture, and the environment.

EAZ articles initially appear online at www.eaz-journal.org. Two issues per year may be printed on demand. As with other scientific journals, scientific quality is ensured by external, international reviewers who advise the editors whether a submitted article should be accepted or revised. There is no cost to the researchers. Accepted articles are published on the website without a paywall under an internationally renowned, free license. "This open access approach also ensures a democratization of research. The decisive factor is not how well funded the institution is where the scientists work. Scientific quality alone counts," emphasizes Prof. Henny Piezonka.

The editorial systems run on servers hosted by the IT Centre of Kiel University. In addition to Martin Furholt and Henny Piezonka, the new editorial team includes Prof. Dr. Bill Angelbeck (Douglas College, Canada), Prof. Dr. Jerimy Cunningham (University of Lethbridge, Canada), Dr. Jens Schneeweiß (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology Schleswig/Cluster ROOTS) and Dr. Maria Wunderlich (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at CAU /Cluster ROOTS). Dr. Nils Müller-Scheeßel (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at CAU /Cluster ROOTS) supports the team in the editorial process. The journal also has an international network of recognised experts  for a board of Associate Editor, advising on the review of submitted articles.

Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift (EAZ)

We welcome Leonardo García Sanjuán as new JMA-Chair

Expert for early social complexity among Neolithic and Copper Age societies collaborates with colleagues in the Cluster ROOTS

Leonardo García Sanjuán is JMA Chair from March to June 2023. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

This month, we welcome the well-known Spanish archaeologist Leonardo García Sanjuán from the University of Seville to Kiel. He is the current holder of the Johanna Mestorf Academy Chair for the coming months until mid-June 2023

Leonardo García Sanjuán's research centres on a number of themes, including early social complexity, burial practices, megalithic monuments and prehistoric landscapes, with a focus on Late Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Iberia. He is also interested in topics such as rare rocks, exotic materials, radiocarbon dating and stelae.

He has carried out fieldwork in the southern Spanish provinces of Badajoz, Córdoba, Huelva, Seville and Málaga and written or edited several books and numerous papers in journals and edited volumes.

Currently, Leonardo García Sanjuán coordinates research projects at two major sites. At the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antequera (Málaga) he has studied the biography of Menga, the largest megalithic monument of Iberia, and discovered a new monument at La Peña de los Enamorados. At the Copper Age mega-site of Valencina de la Concepción-Castilleja de Guzmán (Seville) he has recently completed a full multidisciplinary study of Montelirio, a remarkable tholos-type megalithic tomb.

The academic career of Leonardo García Sanjuán has started as a pre-doctoral research fellow at the University of Seville. After his PhD he worked as a European Commission Marie Curie Program post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Southampton (UK) and as a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Bradford (UK). Since 2000, he is back at the University of Sevilla.

While in Kiel, Leonardo García Sanjuán will collaborate with colleagues in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. During the Kiel Conference he already held a keynote on "Environment, Aggregation and Monumentality in Early Complex Societies: The Case of Valencina". A public JMA Chair lecture with Leonardo García Sanjuán will be announced separately.

Johanna Mestorf Academy: here
Leonardo García Sanjuán's personal website at the University of Seville: here

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ROOTS PI Ralph Schneider elected Vice President of Kiel University

Ralph Schneider is vice president of Kiel UniversityRalph Schneider is the new Vice-President for international affairs, young researchers, equality and diversity (photo: Jürgen Haacks, Uni Kiel).

Yesterday, (Wednesday, 15 March 2023), the Senate of Kiel University (CAU) elected Professor Ralph Schneider, Department of Geosciences and Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, as the new Vice President for International Affairs, Young Academics, Equality and Diversity. The election took place extra-rotationally, as Professor Nele Matz-Lück had resigned from her position as Vice-President for health reasons on 31 January. “I would like to thank Professor Schneider very much for strengthening the Presidium with his expertise and I am very much looking forward to working with him!" emphasised Professor Simone Fulda, President of Kiel University.

"I am very pleased about the great trust the Senate has placed in me today for the next three years. On the one hand a great challenge, on the other hand a very important position in which I can help shape the future of the university,” said Ralph Schneider on the occasion of his election.

The Vice-Presidents of Kiel University are elected by the Senate for a term of three years on the recommendation of the President.

Professor Ralph Schneider is a marine geologist and climate researcher. He is Director of the Institute of Geosciences, where he heads the Paleoceanography and Climate working group. He is also the director of the Leibniz-Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research. He was actively involved in the ROOTS predecessor, the graduate school Human Development in Landscapes, and as a PI he played a significant role in the successful application for the first phase of ROOTS.

We sincerely congratulate Ralph Schneider on his election and wish him all the best for his new tasks!


Official news of Kiel University: Link

ERC Grant for ROOTS member Eva Stukenbrock

Eva StukenbrockAs the European Research Council announced this week, ROOTS member Eva Stukenbrock is receiving a ERC Consolidator Grant. (photo: Stefan Kolbe, Kiel University).

Last Tuesday, the European Research Council (ERC) announced funding for a new research project lead by ROOTS member Eva Stukenbrock. Within the project titled "FungalSecrets: The role of plant microbiota in the evolution of fungal pathogens and their repertoires of secreted proteins" Stukenbrock from the Botanical Institute of Kiel University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön (MPI-EB) and her research team will be able to investigate how the plant microbiome, i.e. the microbial colonisation of a plant, is impacted by fungal pathogens at the molecular level. The research project, which will begin in spring and will be funded over a period of five years, is pursuing the key question of whether and how fungal pathogens influence the microbial colonisation of their host plants by releasing certain molecules to support infection. Stukenbrock, who is also a member of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1182 "Origin and Function of Metaorganisms" and spokesperson of the Kiel Plant Center (KPC) at Kiel University, is receiving a so-called ERC Consolidator Grant for these studies, which includes two million euros in funding.

In the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Eva Stukenbrock and her team collaborate with the aDNA laboratory and archaeobotanists to identify plant pathogens on ancient plant material and to characterise the genetic architecture of plant resistance genes in early domesticated species. We sincerely congratulate on the success with the new proposal!

Johanna Mestorf Academy honours milestone in environmental archaeology

Iris Nießen (Jena) receives the prestigious Johanna Mestorf Award for her dissertation at the opening meeting of the Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Change in Past Societies.

CAU President Professor Simone Fulda (left) presents the Johanna Mestorf Award to Iris Nießen. Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Center 1266 (right) and Prof. Dr. Lutz Käppel, speaker of the Johanna Mestorf Academy (2nd from right) congratulate. (Photo: Jan Steffen, ROOTS)

The share of people living in cities continues to increase worldwide. In view of this trend and the challenges it poses, archaeological and historical sciences are also intensively concerned with urbanisation processes and their relationships to the respective environments. Where do the roots of urbanisation processes lie in the past and how did they take place?

Today (13 March), the Johanna Mestorf Academy at Kiel University awarded the renowned Johanna Mestorf Award to archaeologist Iris Nießen for an outstanding doctoral thesis in precisely this field of study. The award winner wrote her dissertation entitled Donau - Ufer - Regensburg at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena about the development of a settlement into a quarter of the medieval city of Regensburg on the banks of the Danube.

“Iris Nießen's interdisciplinary work exemplarily shows the intertwining of social and ecological change by using the studied example. With its combination of historical and archaeological analysis, the work can be described as a milestone in environmental archaeology,” emphasises Prof. Dr. Lutz Käppel, spokesperson of Kiel University research focus “Societal, Environmental and Cultural Change” (SECC) and chairman of the Johanna Mestorf Academy prize committee in his laudation.

Iris Nießen's dissertation is based on extensive excavations on the banks of the Danube in Regensburg from 2009 to 2015. Her evaluation of these excavations paints a detailed social and economic picture of the development of a harbour settlement into a full-integrated city district around 1300 CE.

The prize-winner developed archaeological and historical methods especially for the evaluation of the extensive data and find material in order to integrate environmental perspectives into her work. This enabled her to comprehensively present the historical development of the river landscape in the history of Regensburg.

Guido Wendt, State Secretary of the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry for Education, Science, Research, and Culture, warmly congratulated Iris Nießen. “The Johanna Mestorf Prize honours a laureate who has not only presented a special scientific achievement with her dissertation, but who is at the same time still at the beginning of her scientific career. I think it is particularly important to honour outstanding young researchers and to make their work visible. In the years and decades to come, we will need their creativity, their innovative spirit and their ideas,” emphasised Wendt in a video message.

Kiel University President Prof. Dr. Simone Fulda also congratulated her kindly when she presented the award. “The scientific achievement that Iris Nießen has accomplished for her dissertation is truly exceptional. The Johanna Mestorf Prize is deserved recognition for this. At the same time, it should have an impact on the future and support a talented young scientist on her further career path.”
The award ceremony was also the opening of the international Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Change in Past Societies at Kiel University. Until next Saturday, more than 300 scientists from 30 countries will present and discuss the latest findings on the interplay of environment, social relationships, material culture, population dynamics, and human perception in the past.

The conference was organised by the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation - Human-environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ and the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS’ within the framework of the Johanna Mestorf Academy.

The Johanna Mestorf Award, endowed with 3000 Euros, is being awarded for the sixth time as part of the conference series. It honours young researchers who have written an excellent dissertation in the field of social-ecological research or landscape archaeology.

“In all activities in our research focus, the promotion of excellent young researchers is an important concern. The Johanna Mestorf Award sets an example in this regard that is perceived far beyond Kiel,” says Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller, speaker of the CRC 1266 and the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Iris Nießen receives the Johanna Mestorf Award 2023 for her dissertation. (Photo: Jan Steffen, ROOTS)


The Kiel Conference www.kielconference.uni-kiel.de
Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation" www.sfb1266.uni-kiel.de
Johanna Mestorf Academy www.jma.uni-kiel.de/en

JMA Chair: Anders Fischer researches the earliest population history of present-day Denmark

JMA Chairholder
Portrait of JMA Chairholder Anders Fischer (photo: Jan Steffen).

In recent years, new methods and tools of studying ancient DNA have considerably expanded our knowledge of the origins and development of the European population during the Stone Age. In the process, many traditional conceptions have been challenged. The Danish archaeologist Anders Fischer has been researching the early population history and life-ways in the western Baltic region for many years, combining archaeological with anthropological, genetic and isotope-analytical methods. He is currently visiting Kiel as Chair of the Johanna Mestorf Academy. During a public lecture at the Kiel Conference 2023, he will present his current work, but also the political and philosophical questions that can arise from it for the present.

Anders Fischer studied prehistoric and European archaeology at the Universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. He received his doctorate from Aarhus University in 1989. He has long worked in the field of archaeological heritage management for Danish authorities, most recently for the Danish Heritage Agency, Danish Agency for Culture and Castles of the Ministry of Culture. Since 2017, he has worked as a freelance archaeologist, managing projects for the Danish National Museum and the Universities of Copenhagen and Gothenburg, among others.

He has also been working with colleagues in Kiel for many years, for example with Cluster Roots member John Meadows from the Leibniz-Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research at Kiel University. "During my time in Kiel, I am was now able to make even more contacts. There are many colleagues working here who have a very good knowledge of early humans throughout Europe and have the appropriate methods to expand the knowledge even further. That helps me a lot for my regional questions in Denmark," says Fischer.  Additionally, it indicates a large potential in future co-operation on early population historical topics by integrating methods and data from both sides the Baltic Sea.

For the Dane, he says himself, research on early population development in the western Baltic region is particularly exciting. "In Denmark, it is a widespread idea that we are directly descended from the first hunter-gatherers who came north after the Ice Age. But genetics suggest at least two complete population changes during the Stone Age, which may not necessarily have been peaceful. It will be interesting to see if and how these findings are treated in a public discourse," says Fischer.

Anyone interested in learning more about Anders Fischer's research, collaborations with colleagues in Kiel and implications for modern politics will have the opportunity to do so on Wednesday, 15 March 2023, at 15.30 in the Klaus Murmann Lecture Hall.

All information on the JMA Chair Public Lecture: Link

Download Flyer here: Link

Kiel Conference 2023: How humans and the environment have influenced each other since the Stone Age

Kiel Conference 2023
The range of topics at Kiel Conference 2023 spans from societies at the end of the last ice age to communities of pre-modern cities, from strategies of human adaptation to environmental change to burial rites. It includes health in the past, residential behavior, the formation of complex networks, and various theoretical and methodological approaches covering the social, natural, life sciences.

  • In Kiel, 300 researchers from 30 nations will exchange findings on how societies, the environment and culture have changed in the past.
  • The Johanna Mestorf Award is to be presented by Schleswig-Holstein's State Secretary for Science Guido Wendt.
  • Media representatives are cordially invited to the conference opening with the award ceremony as well as to the entire conference.

Environmental changes have always posed great challenges to humankind. The current climate change is a good example. There are many ideas and proposals on how to slow it down or mitigate its consequences. But all solutions have side effects, either natural, social or both. They must therefore be carefully weighed against each other. Past experience can help us with the decisions that we need to make. But to do so, we need to know where the roots of certain processes in the interaction between humans and the environment lie, and how societies reacted to changes in the past.

Next week, 300 researchers from the archaeological, palaeoecological, and other natural, social, and life sciences will meet at Kiel University (CAU) for the six-day international Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental & Cultural Change in Past Societies. The conference is the largest scientific event in Germany focusing on the interplay of the environment, social relations, material culture, population dynamics, and human perception in the past. Participants come from more than 30 different countries. The Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation - Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ and the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS’ are organising the conference in the framework of the Johanna Mestorf Academy at Kiel University.  

"In order to understand the key factors for socio-ecological changes in the past, it is necessary for many different disciplines to work together," stresses Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller, spokesperson for ROOTS and the CRC 1266. Regular exchange across disciplinary boundaries is very important in this regard, he stated. "Therefore, I am pleased that so many colleagues from different specialties accepted our invitation to Kiel to present, exchange and discuss the latest results," says Johannes Müller.

The spectrum of topics ranges from societies at the end of the last ice age to communities of pre-modern cities, from strategies of human adaptation to environmental change and to burial rites. It includes health in the past, residential behaviour, the formation of complex networks, and various theoretical and methodological approaches covering the social, natural, and life sciences.

The Kiel Conference 2023 is the seventh conference in this series, which is usually organised on a biennial basis. "The international and multidisciplinary participation in these conferences shows that Kiel University is a globally recognised centre for research in the field of social, environmental and cultural change in early societies," emphasises Kiel University President Prof. Dr. Simone Fulda.

The Johanna Mestorf Award will also be granted during the conference. Every two years, the Johanna Mestorf Academy of Kiel University, the CRC1266 and the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS award this prize for an outstanding dissertation in the field of socio-ecological research of past societies and landscape archaeology. The prize is endowed with 3000 euros.

The prize is named after Johanna Mestorf (1828-1909), who conducted archaeological and ethnographic research in Kiel. She was the first female museum director (1891) and one of the first female professors (1899) in Germany. This year, Schleswig-Holstein's State Secretary for Science, Guido Wendt, will present the award. "In all the activities in our research focus, the promotion of excellent young researchers is an important concern. The Johanna Mestorf Award sets an example in this regard that is perceived far beyond Kiel," says Johannes Müller.

Kiel Confernce Archaeological, paleoecological, and other natural, social, and life science research can uncover the roots of certain processes in the interplay between humans and the environment and provide information about how societies responded to change in the past. This knowledge can help in deciding how we should respond to today's challenges (photo: Jan Piet Brozio).


Note for the media:

Journalists are cordially invited to the opening of the conference with the presentation of the Johanna Mestorf Award by Schleswig-Holstein's State Secretary for Science, Guido Wendt.
Time: Monday, March 13, 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Place: Klaus-Murmann-Hörsaal, Leibniz Straße 1, 24148 Kiel, Germany

We would be very pleased about a short registration until Monday, 13.3., 10:00 a.m., at press@roots.uni-kiel.de  
Are you interested in further sessions and topics of the conference or would you like to interview participants? Feel free to contact us at press@roots.uni-kiel.de


Dr. Andreas Ricci
Cluster of Excellence ROOTS:
tel.: +49 431-880-5871
email: aricci@roots.uni-kiel.de

Dr. Franziska Engelbogen
CRC1266 ‘Scales of Transformation’
tel: +49 431 880-5926
email: fengelbogen@sfb1266.uni-kiel.de
Contact for Media:
Jan Steffen
Media and Public Outreach, Cluster of Excellence ROOTS
tel: +49 (0)431/880-5485
email: jsteffen@roots.uni-kiel.de

The Kiel Conference 2023:

The Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation - Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’:

The first meeting of the new ROOTS Executive Board

With the beginning of the new year, we are now entering the crucial phase of ROOTS. 
As we look forward to the next months, the first meeting of the ROOTS Executive Board on January 10, 2023 offered the opportunity to all members of the board to exchange and reflect on the growth of ROOTS. This gathering served to define and implement a roadmap in order to successfully reach the next milestones of our cluster of excellence, particularly in light of our efforts to extend our research initiative after 2025. Publications, conferences, including the upcoming 2023 Kiel Conference on “Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past Societies” (13-18 March 2023), will shape and stimulate scientific dialogue and exchange, helping sparking new ideas and advance research also for ROOTS phase 2.

The ROOTS board meeting also provided an opportunity to take a photograph of the new members who compose the board for the next two years:
PIC BOARDThe members of the 2023-2025 ROOTS Executive Board. Upper row, from left to right: Johannes Müller, Mara Weinelt, Vesa Arponen, Ulrich Schmölcke, Nils Müller-Scheeßel, Martin Furholt, Jens Schneeweiss, Cheryl Makarewicz, Eileen Eckmeier; lower row: Pawel Cembrzyński, Gerald Schwedler, Ulrich Müller, Wolfgang Rabbel, Andreas Schwab, Wiebke Kirleis, Andrea Ricci (photo by Jan Steffen)

The new composition of the ROOTS Executive Board is as follows:
Speaker: Johannes Müller
Co-Speaker: Martin Furholt
Co-Speaker (until September 30, 2023): Wolfgang Rabbel
Co-Speaker (from October 1, 2023): Eileen Eckmeier

Subcluster 1 - Hazards: Eileen Eckmeier (Deputy: Mara Weinelt)
Subcluster 2 - Diets: Cheryl Makarewicz (Deputy: Ben Krause-Kyora)
Subcluster 3 - Knowledge: Andreas Schwab (Deputy: Gerald Schwedler)
Subcluster 4 - Urban: Annette Haug (Deputy: Ulrich Müller)
Subcluster 5 - Inequality: Martin Furholt (Deputy: Johannes Müller)
Subcluster 6 - Conflict: Lorenz Kienle (Deputy: Jens Schneeweiß)
Reflective Turn Forum: Vesa Arponen (Deputy: Konrad Ott)
Young Academy: Tim Kerig (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)
Platform 1 - Technical: Wiebke Kirleis (Deputy: Eileen Eckmeier)
Platform 2 - Communication: Ilka Parchmann (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)
Platform 3 - Humanities: Nils Müller-Scheeßel (Deputy: John Peterson)
Postdoc Representative: Pawel Cembrzyński
PhD Representatives: Benjamin Claaßen, Benjamin Serbe
For Kiel University: Kiel University President
For ZBSA: Berit Eriksen (Deputy: Ulrich Schmölcke)
Scientific Coordination: Mara Weinelt (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)

Public Lecture: “How History Matters” by Gary Feinman (JMA-Chair)

Public Lecture: “How History Matters” by Gary Feinman (JMA-Chair)
On February 6, Gary Feinman (MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA) talks on “Rethinking Premodern Governance and Inequality”

Archaeology has learned a lot empirically over the last 50 years, but concepts and presumptions about human groups and how they organize politically stem from the mid-20th century and, in a sense, the century before that with focus on two big ideas, classification and evolution (progress), as well as a strong emphasis on uniformity and linearity. Science has, however, collected enough data to reassess and evaluate these long-standing tenets and assumptions. 

In a public lecture on 6 February 2023, Gary Feinman, MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA, presents new concepts and ideas on premodern governance and inequality. 

Public Lecture: "How History Matters"
Time: 6 February 2023, starting 04:00 p.m. 
Venue: CAP3 / ‘Hörsaal 3’ / Christian-Albrechts-Platz 3 / 24118 Kiel

Since early November 2022, US archaeologist Gary Feinman is the holder of the Johanna Mestorf Acadamy (JMA) chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University. While in Kiel, Gary Feinman collaborates with colleagues in ROOTS and in particular with the subcluster “Roots of Inequalities” 

Feinman received his B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from City University of New York-Graduate Center in 1980. In his scientific work, he has specialized in the study of complex human societies – how and why they arose, the different ways they were organized and changed over time, and how the economies of these ancient social formations were underpinned and interrelated with their political and social institutions.

Feinman is also the founding and contact co-editor of the Journal of Archaeological Research, which is the top-ranked journal based on Impact Factor in Archaeology and Anthropology. He also is an Editorial Board member of Human Ecology and Cross-Cultural Research and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For his work he received the Presidential Recognition Award from the Society for American Archaeology.

The lecture on 6 February is part of the Public Lecture Series by JMA-Chairs. It provides novel research perspectives to unveil interwoven past social, environmental, and cultural phenomena, shedding light on the ‘roots’ of current socio-environmental challenges and crises. Leading international experts joining the Cluster of Excellence as JMA Chairs give insight into their research, enhancing ROOTS large interdisciplinary initiative.

Downloud poster here

2022 ROOTS Plenary Assembly: New Board Members Elected

Johannes Müller looks back on successesJohannes Müller looks back on successes, but also on challenges of the year 2022. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

The first events in person after two years, numerous field campaigns and conferences, but also staff changes and the impact of the Russian attack on Ukraine: the year 2022 was both successful and challenging for the members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. During the 2022 Cluster Plenary Assembly on 7 December, ROOTS speaker Johannes Müller, scientific coordinator Mara Weinelt, as well as Vesa Arponen and Eileen Eckmeier on behalf of the subclusters, platforms, Reflective Turn Forum and Young Academy reflected on the achievements of the last twelve months. The program of the meeting included the welcoming of the new members and the farewell of former members, who either found new career paths in Germany or abroad or recently begun their well-deserved retirements.

Eileen Eckmeier and Vesa Arponen  on behalf of the subclusters
Eileen Eckmeier and Vesa Arponen  on behalf of the subclusters, platforms, Reflective Turn Forum and Young Academy reflect on the achievements of the last twelve months. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Additionally, the elections to the ROOTS Executive Board for the 2023-2024 period was on the agenda.

The archaeologist Johannes Müller continues as ROOTS speaker, while his colleague Martin Furholt succeeds the chemist and didactics expert Ilka Parchmann as co-speaker. In addition, geoarchaeologist Eileen Eckmeier was elected to succeed geophysicist Wolfgang Rabbel as co-speaker once he will retire in October 2023. In the "Hazard" subcluster, Eileen Eckmeier will also take over the position as speaker. In the "Knowledge" subcluster, the Greek philologist Lutz Käppel will pass on the baton of the speaker to his colleague Andreas Schwab, who has been working at Kiel University since spring 2022. The historian Gerald Schwedler was elected co-speaker of the "Knowledge" subcluster. In the "Inequalities" subcluster, archaeologist Martin Furholt took over the speaker position from prehistoric archaeologist Henny Piezonka. The new co-speaker here is Johannes Müller. In the "Conflict" subcluster, the chemist and nano-expert Lorenz Kienle replaces Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, who retired, while the archaeologist Jens Schneeweiß was elected co-speaker. For the Technical Platform, Eileen Eckmeier takes over the co-speaker post from Wolfgang Rabbel and for the Communication Platform, archaeologist Andrea Ricci takes over the co-speaker role from Claus von Carnap-Bornheim.

According to the results of the elections, all candidates were elected with large majority of votes.

The new composition of the ROOTS Executive Board is as follows:

Speaker: Johannes Müller
Co-Speaker: Martin Furholt
Co-Speaker (until September 30, 2023): Wolfgang Rabbel
Co-Speaker (from October 1, 2023): Eileen Eckmeier

Subcluster 1 - Hazards: Eileen Eckmeier (Deputy: Mara Weinelt)
Subcluster 2 - Diets: Cheryl Makarewicz (Deputy: Ben Krause-Kyora)
Subcluster 3 - Knowledge: Andreas Schwab (Deputy: Gerald Schwedler)
Subcluster 4 - Urban: Annette Haug (Deputy: Ulrich Müller)
Subcluster 5 - Inequality: Martin Furholt (Deputy: Johannes Müller)
Subcluster 6 - Conflict: Lorenz Kienle (Deputy: Jens Schneeweiß)
Reflective Turn: Vesa Arponen (Deputy: Konrad Ott)
Young Academy: Tim Kerig (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)
Platform 1 - Technical: Wiebke Kirleis (Deputy: Eileen Eckmeier)
Platform 2 - Communication: Ilka Parchmann (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)
Platform 3 - Humanities: Nils Müller-Scheeßel (Deputy: John Peterson)
Postdoc Representative: Pawel Cembrzyński
PhD Representatives: Benjamin Claaßen, Benjamin Serbe
For Kiel University: Kiel University President
For ZBSA: Berit Eriksen (Deputy: Ulrich Schmölcke)
Scientific Coordinator: Mara Weinelt (Deputy: Andrea Ricci)

Lutz Kaeppel chairs the elections for positions on the cluster bodies
Lutz Käppel chairs the elections of the ROOTS Cluster Executive Board. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Dangerous pathogens were lurking around every corner in an early medieval settlement

Skull from grave 83 in Lauchheim "Mittelhofen". On this individual, the team was able to detect three infections. Photo: Isabelle Jasch-Boley

  • DNA from 1300-year-old skeletons allows analysis of the health status of an a community of the Merovingian period
  • Study reveals high prevalence of infections with various pathogens
  • Results also allow conclusions on susceptibility to infections in times of climatic changes in general

Lack of personal hygiene, disease-carrying rats and general unsanitary living conditions - the Middle Ages are commonly regarded as an age of ubiquitous disease. However, most of our knowledge about medieval epidemics relates to the late Middle Ages after the 12th century CE. In contrast, the incidence of infection in the early Middle Ages and the pathogens responsible for disease outbreaks during this period are still largely unexplored. An interdisciplinary research team led by scientists from Kiel University (CAU) has now found evidence for a high prevalence of infectious diseases in the early medieval settlement of Lauchheim "Mittelhofen" (Baden-Württemberg) using the latest analysis techniques for ancient DNA. The study has been published today in the international journal Genome Biology.

Analysis reveals various pathogens in the skeletons

For this study of the early medieval settlement Lauchheim “Mittelhofen”, researchers isolated DNA from 70 human skeletons excavated within its borders. The graves could be associated with distinguishable farmsteads and dated to the late Merovingian period (7th-8th century CE). “The DNA data showed that the Lauchheim inhabitants suffered from infections with various pathogens, such as Mycobacterium leprae, the hepatitis B virus HBV, the parvovirus B19 and the variola virus VARV”, says Professor Ben Krause Kyora from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology of the CAU and member of the Cluster of Exzellence ROOTS, who led the research team.

The infectious agents detected in Lauchheim cause both chronic and acute diseases of varying severity. Infection with M. leprae can lead to the development of persistent and highly debilitating leprosy. Symptoms of HBV infection range from mild abdominal pain and fever to liver fibrosis and even liver cancer. B19 is seemingly less dangerous as the infection is usually asymptomatic and severe complications are rare. In contrast, before its eradication in 1980, variola virus caused smallpox – an acute disease of high mortality. “However, due to the genetic differences between the modern and medieval VARV, we cannot tell what the symptoms of the infection were in the Middle Ages and whether the pathogen was as dangerous as the modern variola”, explains Prof. Krause-Kyora.

Many people even suffered from multiple infections

The authors noted a substantial number of co-infections with two or even three different infectious agents. Overall, 31% of the community died with a molecular trace of infection with at least one pathogen. “Although this number is very high, it does not reflect a disease burden at one moment in time. Dating of the graves suggests that the burial ground was used for approximately one century, so between three to four generations. It is important to keep that in mind,” says one of the lead authors of the study Joanna Bonczarowska from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology of the CAU.

Nevertheless, the researchers believe that their reports are likely underestimating the true prevalence of infection in early medieval Lauchheim. Krause-Kyora remarks that “Once all soft tissue is deteriorated, only blood-borne pathogens can be reliably identified in the bones. When considering this limitation together with the degradation of DNA molecules that occurs over time, some infections were probably undetected.”

Overall poor health and climatic change

The Lauchheim inhabitants were generally of poor health, as their skeletons showed signs of infections and/or an inadequate diet. One of the senior authors Prof. Almut Nebel from CAU’s Institute of Molecular Biology, says that “At the time, Europe experienced a rapid climate decline, known as the Late Antique Little Ice Age. Climate change can drive crop failures, eventually leading to famine.” Malnutrition possibly increased the physiological stress of the people. “In theory, famine would weaken the undernourished population and allow for an easier spread of the pathogens among the community. Those people were in very poor health and the conditions seemed to be favorable for disease spread and evolution of the pathogens.” adds Nebel.

The study provides a new, temporal perspective on the infectious disease burden in a community living in a period characterized by high exposure to pathogens, rapid cultural transition and major climate changes. These conditions, to an extent, one can relate to today – in times of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and climate change.

"This study is also a good example of the collaboration between different disciplines at the CAU. Expertise and resources from the Collaborative Research Centre 1266, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Cluster of Excellence Precision Medicine have come together to learn more about the history of human diseases and to draw possible lessons for us today," Ben Krause-Kyora sums up.

Bonczarowska et al.: Pathogen genomics study of an early medieval community in Germany reveals extensive co‑infections. Genome Biology, doi.org/10.1186/s13059-022-02806-8

Samples are carefully taken from bones of early medieval people buried in Lauchheim "Mittelhofen". Photo: Katharina Fuchs

Bone samples are analysed for ancient DNA under clean room conditions. Photo: Katharina Fuchs

The CRC 1266: here
The Cluster of Excellence “Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation” (PMI): here

Germany's first community excavation provides evidence for a long settlement tradition in Schenefeld

The project initiator Claus von Carnap-Bornheim presents the archaeological finds in Schenefeld
The project initiator Claus von Carnap-Bornheim presents the archaeological finds in Schenefeld. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster Roots. 

Citizen science project "Schenefeld excavates" ends with a presentation of the results  

  • Evaluation of Germany's first participatory community excavation shows great enthusiasm among citizens.
  • The pilot project in Schenefeld (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany) provides evidence for a settlement tradition of more than 1000 years in the town.
  • Participating archaeologists and community volunteers are committed to continuing the research and further community excavations in Germany.

To work with volunteers from outside academia is common practice in archaeology. These enthusiastic people often support excavations or provide information about possible archaeological sites. However, the project "Schenefeld gräbt aus" ("Schenefeld excavates"), in which more than 100 adults, young people and children from the Schleswig-Holstein municipality of Schenefeld largely independently explored their town's past with the help of spades, trowels and brushes in May and June 2022, is so far unique in Germany. Today, the final event took place in the Community Hall, where the organising team from the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS (Kiel University), and the Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig (ZBSA) presented the evaluation of the finds.

Ilka Rau and Dr Katrin Schoeps
Ilka Rau (ZBSA, left) and Dr Katrin Schöps (IPN) from the Schenefeld digs organising team, project initiator Professor Claus von Carnap-Bornheim (back right) and Mayor Johann Hansen during the presentation event in Schenefeld.

Citizens excavate more than 1000 years of settlement history

The community excavation was based on the assumption that Schenefeld could be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Correspondingly old structures of Schenefeld’s St. Boniface Church as well as individual, earlier archaeological finds had indicated this. On 18 November 2022, Ilka Rau of the ROOTS/ZBSA organising team could confirm that the excavations earlier this year unearthed traces of extensive settlement activity in Schenefeld already in the later 1st millennium CE. "However, in contrast to these older pottery finds from the Early Middle Ages, very few to no pottery sherds were found from the first half of the second millennium, i.e. from the High Middle Ages. The majority of the pottery finds are modern," adds Ilka Rau.

The extent to which Schenefeld has been continuously settled since the first millennium and exactly where people settled in the Middle Ages cannot yet be clearly determined on the basis of the excavations to date. Further investigations would be necessary.
"We have been able to confirm that people lived in Schenefeld more than 1,000 years ago. This is a great result for our community," says Mayor Johann Hansen. "At the same time, we are experiencing that science is a lengthy process. New results often raise new questions. That is also an important insight. And, of course, we would like to continue our research to close the gap in finds from the High Middle Ages."

Survey shows great enthusiasm among participants

Katrin Schöps from the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel also confirms that participants are not only enthusiastic about the results but also about the scientific work itself. Since "Schenefeld gräbt aus" was a first in Germany, the IPN is using questionnaires to examine the impact of the project on the community and the people in the town.

"The evaluation is still ongoing, but a preliminary analysis shows that participation in the excavation has had a positive impact on people and the sense of community. Seventy percent of the respondents would participate again and almost 90 percent would advise their friends to participate in such a project," reports Dr. Schöps. This is confirmed by similar studies in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland or the Czech Republic, where such participatory, community archaeological projects have been practiced for many years.

Transferring experience from Great Britain to Germany

One of the leading experts for community excavations in Great Britain is the archaeologist Prof. Dr. Carenza Lewis from the University of Lincoln. A meeting between her and Prof. Dr. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim (Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and former director of the ZBSA) in 2019 provided the impetus for the German pilot project. After delays due to the Corona pandemic, concrete preparations started in 2021. For this, Kiel University, the Schleswig-Holstein State Archaeological Office and the IPN, also part of the ROOTS network, were brought on board.

After appropriate introductions by the experts, the volunteers from Schenefeld opened a total of 31 one-square-meter test pit excavations in gardens, on meadows and at public spaces throughout the municipality on two weekends in May and June 2022. Numerous archaeologists from the participating institutes were on hand to help the volunteers fill out excavation protocols or record their finds. More than 2,000 individual finds were thus precisely recorded and could subsequently be scientifically analysed.
"This was a very successful premiere for a community excavation in Schleswig-Holstein. The people of Schenefeld contributed a lot to this. Thank you very much for this from the entire team. I can only hope that the findings from this premiere, both in terms of Schenefeld's settlement history and the advantages of citizen science excavations, will make many similar projects in Germany possible," summarises Prof. Dr. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, who has since retired.

On the ROOTS YOUTUBE channel, a video shows a summary of the project.

Link zum Youtube-Kanal: Youtube Link
www.zbsa.eu the Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig (ZBSA)
www.ipn.uni-kiel.de/ the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)
https://www.uni-kiel.de/de/181-gemeinschaftsausgrabung German press release on the website of Kiel University

Schenefeldt graebt aus
Volunteers Swea Scholle, Volker Schade and Maike Beer-von Aspern work on their testpit excavation in June 2022. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Schenefeldt graebt aus
Volunteers meticulously document each find so that it can be included in the scientific evaluation. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Schenefeldt graebt aus
How old is the shard? Archaeologist Sebastian Schultrich (Cluster ROOTS) advises volunteer Marei Küppers on how to classify a find. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Schenefeldt graebt aus
Just like experienced archaeologists, the volunteers work their way into the past, layer by layer, with spatulas and brushes. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Schenefeldt graebt aus
A total of 100 adults, young people and children took part in the "Schenfeld digs out" campaign on two dates. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

We welcome Gary Feinman as new JMA-Chair

Gary Feinmann is new JMA ChairholderPhoto: Linda M. Nicholas

His JMA tenure at Kiel started in November

In early November, we welcomed the well-known US archaeologist Gary Feinman and his wife and research partner Linda Nicholas to Kiel. Gary Feinman is the holder of the JMA chair for the coming months until the end of February. Feinman and Nicholas look forward to discussing new projects with Kiel colleagues and to plan joint activities.

Gary Feinman received his B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from City University of New York-Graduate Center in 1980. In his scientific work, he has specialized in the study of complex human societies – how and why they arose, the different ways they were organized and changed over time, and how the economies of these ancient social formations were underpinned and interrelated with their political and social institutions.

Currently Gary Feinman and Linda Nicholas both work for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where Feinman holds the position of MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology.

Geographically, one of the foci of both colleagues is the study of pre-Columbian political and economic relations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Since 1995, both also have been part of a collaborative team of North American and Chinese scholars studying the Late Neolithic through Han period in Shandong, China.
Feinman is also the founding and contact co-editor of the Journal of Archaeological Research, which is the top-ranked journal based on Impact Factor in Archaeology and Anthropology. He also is an Editorial Board member of Human Ecology and Cross-Cultural Research.  He served a term as the Editor of Latin American Antiquity. Feinman was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the Presidential Recognition Award from the Society for American Archaeology.

While in Kiel, Gary Feinman and Linda Nicholas will collaborate with colleagues in ROOTS and in particular with the subcluster “Roots of Inequalities”. A public lecture with Gary Feinman will be announced separately.

Nominees wanted for the Johanna Mestorf Award

On the occasion of the Kiel Conference 2023 excellent dissertations in the field of socio-environmental research and landscape archaeology will be honored


Are you a young researcher with an outstanding dissertation that was completed not more than two years ago? Does your dissertation deal with socio-environmental research or landscape archaeology? If this description fits you, you are a candidate for the Johanna Mestorf Award 2023. It is open to young resarchers of all scientific fields and it is endowed with a prize of 3000 Euro.

Young researchers who fit into the profile can be nominated for the award by professors and supervisors within the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the CRC 1266, the Johanna Mestorf Academy or by associated national and international partners through the submission of a letter of recommendation. The prize may be shared and should benefit the scientific research of the awardee(s), but the use of the prize is optional within this framework.

For the current announcement period, recommendations must be submitted by 15 December 2022 together with the corresponding doctoral dissertation. Please send recommendation letters and dissertations only as PDF files via e-mail to office@roots.uni-kiel.de.

The presentation of the Johanna Mestorf Award will take place in March 2023 during the open workshop “Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in Past Societies” in Kiel.

For further information please go to 
or contact
Angelika Hoffmann

Nearly four decades of research and science communication – Walter Dörfler retires

Dr. Walter Dörfler. Photo: Tine Pape, Cluster ROOTS.

Since 2015, the replica of a megalithic grave, erected with boulders weighing several tons on the campus of Kiel University (CAU), has been a reminder not only of the prehistory of Northern Europe but also of the importance of the archaeological disciplines at Kiel University. The practical construction of the tomb following Neolithic methods – itself a scientific experiment – was largely made possible by the commitment of Dr. Walter Dörfler. Since 1988, he has been active as a scientist, but also as an enthusiastic communicator of science at the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology (UFG) at Kiel University. He has now begun his well-deserved retirement on October 1.

Walter Dörfler's scientific career began with studies in biology in Göttingen. For his doctoral thesis, he moved to Kiel to conduct a pollen-analytical study of the vegetation and settlement history in the district of Cuxhaven, Northern Germany. After completing his doctorate, he obtained a position at the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology and has since helped to shape its development.

The main scientific focus of Dr. Dörfler is the pollen analysis of lake sediments with high temporal resolution in order to obtain long-term information on the development of vegetation and landscape under human influence. He has not only developed the evaluation but also the drilling technique with great expertise, so that he has been an internationally sought-after expert in this field for many years. Over the years, his expertise has enriched numerous archaeological projects in Germany, Ireland, Poland, Italy and other European countries, as well as in Anatolia and Mexico.

In addition, Walter Dörfler was a founding member of the Cooperative Research Program ‘Early Monumentality and Social Differentation’, the Graduate School Excellence Initiative ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSHDL), the Collaborative Research Center ‘Scales of Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ and the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. These four initiatives, funded at Kiel University, greatly benefited from Walter Dörfler´s expertise in reconstructing past human-environmental interactions.
Walter Dörfler has always shown strong interest in transferring archaeological knowledge and archaeological methods to people outside academia, whether at events such as the Kieler Woche, with activities including the construction of the megalithic tomb on the campus of Kiel University, or most recently as part of the Archaeo:Labor of the Kiel Research Factory (https://www.forschungs-werkstatt.de/labore/archaeolabor/).

"We thank Walter for the many years of successful cooperation. His scientific expertise has enabled many new insights into earlier human societies and their relationship to their respective environments," says Johannes Müller, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the UFG at Kiel University and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. "At the same time, he has contributed a great deal to the reputation of the discipline in the public sphere. Not to mention that Walter is a great colleague! We wish him all the best and at the same time hope that he will remain connected to both the institute and the cluster, as we hope to benefit from his expertise for many years to come."

All the best, Walter, and remember: we are always happy to see you and your donkeys!

Dr. Walter Dörfler (right behind the boulder) together with experimental archaeologist Harm Paulsen during the construction of the megalithic tomb on the CAU campus in 2015. Photo: Tebke Böschen, CAU.

Walter Dörfler - here together with Dr. Katrin Schöps (left) and Ilka Rau - also lends a hand in the Archaeol:Lab of the Kiel Research Factory. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

Now Walter Dörfler has more time to go hiking with his donkeys. Dear Walter, we hope that your paths will often lead you to us. (Photo Carola Floors).

6th Poznan Days at Kiel University - The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS contributes to the programme

Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. © AMU, Poznań

Developing new ways of thinking by mutual understanding - that is the basic idea behind the Poznan Days at Kiel University (CAU). A delegation of more than 60 academics and students from Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM) in Poznań, Poland, visit the CAU from 2 to 4 November 2022. An extensive programme for all interested parties from prehistory and early history to botany and law will complete the visit.

A partnership agreement has linked Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM) in Poznań with CAU since 1984. However, contacts and also exchange activities began as early as the 1970s and therefore both universities can look back on almost 40 years of joint exchange relations. The University Days, which combine science with culture, society and personal contacts, are intended to make the cooperation between the two universities even closer and more intensive. Furthermore, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the study and research programmes offered at the respective host university and also gain an insight into the student and academic exchange between the partner universities. It is particularly important to give young academics from both universities the opportunity to work together as well as to get to know each other.

Members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS will contribute to the programme of the Poznan Days, including Jutta Kneisel, Walter Dörfler, Ingo Feeser, Hendrik Raese and ROOTS spokesperson Johannes Müller. Two workshops will deal with topics of the Cluster of Excellence:

Society facing changes. regions on the southwest Baltic between 2500 - 1500 BC on 03.11, 14-17 h (Leibnizstraße 3, R123)
Palaeo-environmental Workshop: Lake coring, sampling and interdisciplinary analyses for palaeoecological reconstruction on 03.11, 9-13 h (Leibnizstraße 3, R123).

Full programme of the 6th Posen Days in Kiel, 02.11. - 04.11.2022.pdf

A successful museum and science manager - Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim retires

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Claus von Carnap Bornheim. Photo: Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen

For more than two decades, he decisively shaped archaeological research as well as communication about archaeology in Schleswig-Holstein and far beyond. Now Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, Executive Director of the Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Foundation and founding member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, began his well-deserved retirement on October 1. Numerous politicians, including Schleswig-Holstein's Minister-President Daniel Günther and Minister of Education, Science, Research and Culture Karin Prien, as well as long-time companions, friends of the scientist and museum manager, partners of the state museums, colleagues from all over Germany, family members and employees celebrated him and bid him farewell during a ceremony in Schleswig. 

"Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim has not only achieved a lot for the state museums but he also provided important impulses to research at Kiel University," emphasises Johannes Müller, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology of Kiel University and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. 

Claus von Carnap-Bornheim played a crucial role in the successful research application for the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes‘, which was funded at Kiel University in 2007 as part of the Excellence Initiative of Germany’s Federal Government. In 2019, the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS - Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies‘ emerged from it, in which Claus von Carnap-Bornheim has also been a very active member. The Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), which he founded in 2008, is one of the important non-university partners within the ROOTS scientific research family. 

"In addition to his outstanding achievements as a scientist and science manager, Claus von Carnap-Borneheim has also decidedly advanced the transfer of archaeological knowledge from science to society with the State Museum of Archaeology. We continue to benefit from these visions in our current projects," underlines Johannes Müller. For example, the ROOTS project "Schenefeld gräbt aus," the first community test pit excavation of its kind in Germany, goes back to an initiative of Claus von Carnap-Bornheim. 

"We thank him for the excellent cooperation and wish him all the best for his retirement," Johannes Müller summarises.

Press release of the State Museum of Archaeology

Dialogues with the Past: International Doctoral Seminar, 27-30 March 2023, Paris, France.

A painting of Oldham in England by Jame Howe Carsell
A painting of Oldham in England by Jame Howe Carse

From 27-30 March 2023, the PhD seminar "Human Environment Interaction: Adapting, Coping, Marking, Transforming" will be held at the Centre Universitaire de Norvège à Paris (France).

This PhD seminar seeks to explore human-environmental interaction in the past in a long-term perspective. It is directed to all PhD-students who do research on natural as well as cultural environments and social space, and their interconnectedness, across time, including both foraging and farming societies – in coast and inland areas. The seminar will deal with the study of environment and/or social space from a variety of perspectives such as environmental archaeology, material culture studies or ethnoarchaeology. The PhD-students will present aspects of their own research in these fields, which then will be discussed in the group, the discussions being chaired by experienced lecturers in the field of (landscape-) archaeology, ethnoarchaeology and environmental archaeology.

The participating lecturers, among them Cluster-ROOTS PIs Wiebke Kirleis and Henny Piezonka, will give lectures and participate in the discussion about the research of the PhD students.

The seminar is organized by ROOTS PI Wiebke Kirleis together with Almut Schülke (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) as part of the graduate school Dialogues with the Past, The Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology.

The Graduate School invites all registered PhD students in the Dialogues with the Past network to apply by 18 November 18, 2022. Applications can be submitted via this application form here.

Direct-push system of the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence successfully completes first operational deployment

Detlef Schulte-Kortnack Detlef Schulte-Kortnack (front) from the IfG of the CAU operates the new direct push system during a geophysical campaign on the Roman Iron Age mound Tofting. At the device itself are Dr. Martin Thorwart (IfG of CAU and member of the Cluster ROOTS) and geosciences student Annika Kessler. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

From geophysical prospections using seismic surveys, magnetics or ground-penetrating radar to selective drilling and complete excavations—only the combination of different methods allows scientists to study settlements or landscapes of past times on a large scale and yet in detail. Funded by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, a compact direct-push system is now available for this purpose at the Institute for Geosciences of Kiel University (IfG), which can push an electrical or an optical probe up to nine metres deep into the ground and thus provide punctual information about its structure. During a combined training and research campaign from 29 August to 2 September 2022 on the Eiderstedt Peninsula in Schleswig-Holstein, the system successfully completed its first operational deployment. "The DP system closes an important gap in our methodology between non-invasive methods, such as seismic surveys, and often very complex drilling," explains ROOTS co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rabbel from the IfG.

The direct-push system is installed on two small crawler chassis. One of the chassis carries the power supply and the hydraulic pump. The other chassis carries the actual pushing device. "Altogether, the system weighs only about 1.5 tonnes. Both vehicles together fit on a small trailer. This makes our system very compact and mobile," states Clemens Mohr, engineering specialist of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In the IfG workshops, he not only built the two vehicles on crawler chassis from the gardening sector, but also developed the optical sensor for the direct-push system from scratch.

The successful first mission now took place at the Roman Iron Age dwelling mound Tofting on Eiderstedt. "We now have a mobile and effective system for punctual soil investigations at our disposal, which we can use within the framework of the ROOTS cluster, but also beyond it," says Professor Rabbel.

The next deployment of the system will take place in Greece in mid-September.


Link: here

Dr. Martin Thorwart vom IfG der CAU schraubt einen neuen Gestängeabschnitt in das Direct-Push-System
Dr. Martin Thorwart from CAU's IfG screws a new linkage section into the Direct Push system. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

 Detail des Direct-Push-System
Detail of the Direct Push system (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Aufgrund seiner Baugröße ist das System sehr flexibel einsetzbar
Due to its size, the system can be used very flexibly. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

Detlef Schulte-Kortnack
Detlef Schulte-Kortnack (IfG of CAU) drives the vehicle with the energy supply to the new location. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

The Archaeo:Labor celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Kiel Science Factory

Mareike Wendorff tests the Archaeo:Lab's ceramic puzzle during the open-day event
Mareike Wendorff (IPN) tests the Archaeo:Lab's ceramic puzzle during the open-day event. (Photo: Jan Steffen,Cluster ROOTS)

Together with supporters from business, politics, education and science, the Kiel Research Factory celebrated its 10th anniversary with an open day on Friday, 7 October. Guests were given an insight into the diversity of the teaching and learning laboratory of Kiel University (CAU) and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN).
The Archaeo:Labor, one of the youngest members of the Science Factory family, also presented its activities. During the past year, it has offered school classes and teachers insights into the topics and working methods of archaeology and related sciences with the support of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

For example, young researchers can examine a trench in the ground underneath a real excavation tent and also document the profiles. The traces left in the ground by a Neolithic house can be traced on a one-to-one scale with the help of a tarp. In the laboratories, the school classes can study pollen and grain seeds in order to draw conclusions about past landscapes and human nutrition in the Neolithic. Patterns of ceramic sherds are also extracted from a soil sample and reveal interaction between people from different regions, while the use of a weaving frame illustrates how much work it was to make clothes with your own hands.

"In this way, we cover the topics of housing, nutrition, clothing, environment and social issues of past societies, and at the same time show the students the techniques that researchers use to investigate these topics," explains Dr. Katrin Schöps (IPN/Cluster ROOTS). She adds: “So far, the feedback from classes that have visited us has been very positive. We look forward to many more curious young archaeologists visiting the Archaeo:Labor.”
For more information, please go to the official press release of Kiel University (German): here.


How did Neolithic people move boulders to build megalithic tombs
How did Neolithic people move boulders to build megalithic tombs? Schoolchildren can find out at the Archäo:Labor. Dr. Katrin Schöps (center), Ilka Rau (ZBSA/Cluster of Excellence ROOTS) and Dr. Walter Dörfler (Cluster ROOTS) test the new, heavyweight learning module.(Photo: Jan Steffen,Cluster ROOTS)

Katrin Schöps
Dr. Katrin Schöps (IPN / Cluster ROOTS, right) shows Dr. Gabriele Romig, Head of Department at the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Culture of the State of Schleswig-Holstein, the excavation tent of the Archaeo:Lab in the Kiel Research Workshop. (Photo: Jan Steffen,Cluster ROOTS)

Kiel Archaeology Strengthens Cooperation with Partners in Ukraine: Professor Johannes Müller on official visit to Kiev

The new agreement reaffirms the 10-year cooperation between Kiel archaeologists and the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. From left to right: Dr. Vitali Rud (Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Prof Dr. Vitali Otroshchenko (Head of the Department of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Prof Dr. Viktor Chabai (Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukaine), Prof Dr. Johannes Müller (CAU), Prof Dr. Mikhail Videiko (Director of the Institute of Archaeology of Borys Grinchenko University), Dr. Sasha Diachenko (Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine). Photo: Academy of Science of Ukraine 

Yesterday, Kiel archaeologist Professor Johannes Müller visited the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as spokesman of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Center 1266 "Dimensions of Transformation" at Kiel University (CAU) as well as a representative of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA). There he signed a new cooperation agreement of the the Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory of the CAU with the Institute of Archaeology at the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv Metropolitan University and reaffirmed the existing cooperation with the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that has already existed for 10 years. Müller is the first Western European archaeologist to visit Kyiv since the start of the Ukrainian war.

"Ukraine has been an important partner country for us for many years," Müller explained in Kyiv, "so I would like to send a signal, especially in the current situation. The new cooperation agreement and the continuation of the existing cooperation with two important institutions strengthen the already good cooperation and lays the foundation for further joint projects as soon as the war ends. In addition, we are adapting existing agreements to the current situation."

Hosts express gratitude for visit
Professor Viktor Chabaj, head of the Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, expressly thanked the guest from Kiel: "At present, it is not a matter of course that colleagues from abroad visit us. We are all the more pleased about this visit and the continuation of the existing cooperation agreement even in these times. Of course, we hope that soon we will be able to conduct excavations and scientific research together again in Ukraine."

Professor Mikhail Videiko, head of the Archaeological Institute at the Borys Grinchenko University in Kyiv, added: "Research only works in international cooperation. It's good to see that the Russian government's brutal war of aggression can't cut the bond between peacefully cooperating scientists."

The new cooperation agreement provides, among other things, that archaeological finds from Ukraine can continue to be safely studied and evaluated in laboratories at Kiel University. It also aims to give Ukrainian archaeologists even easier access to know-how and data, as well as to excavations outside Ukraine.

Ukraine is important for understanding the first large settlements in Europe
Ukraine occupies a special position in the study of European prehistory. Among other things, traces of large settlements dating back more than 5,500 years can be found there, which already had several thousand inhabitants at the end of the Neolithic period and had early urban structures.

The Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory at the CAU, where Johannes Müller holds the professorship for Prehistoric Archaeology, as well as the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the SFB 1266, are among the world's leading institutions in the study of this so-called Tripolje culture.

"The large settlements are older than the early advanced civilizations in Mesopotamia. They can be used to study very fundamental processes of human societies," Müller explained. How do early cities organize themselves? How did they react to environmental changes? How was their sustainable economy possible? Why did conflicts arise - or not? "These are precisely the topics we are working on in SFB1266 and in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence," the prehistorian continues.

Currently however no excavations can take place in Ukraine. Therefore, Russia's attack on Ukraine in violation of international law is a catastrophe not only from a human but also from a scientific perspective, Müller emphasized, who is currently leading the excavation of a Tripolje settlement in Moldova.

On Monday morning,  Johannes Müller (center) signed a new cooperation agreement with the Archaeological Institute of the Borys Grinchenko University in Kiev. Left: The head of the institute, Mikhail Videiko; right: Olga Vyhovska, head of the Department of International Relations at Borys Grinchenko University. Photo: Borys Grinchenko University

Ukrainian archaeologists hand over soil samples from excavations to their German colleagues at the Ukrainian-Moldovan border. The new cooperation agreements make it even easier to safely analyze and store finds and samples from Ukraine in Kiel.  Photo: Johannes Müller

Currently, archaeologists of the Collaborative Research Center 1266 are excavating traces of a settlement of the Trypolje culture in Moldova. Sites in Ukraine are also of crucial importance for the study of this culture. Photo: Johannes Müller.

European Association of Archaeologists
News on the website of the Academy of Science of Ukraine

ROOTS welcomes new PhD students

ROOTS welcomes new PhD students2
ROOTS speaker Johannes Müller welcomes the new ROOTS PhD students. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

From the Neolithic through the Roman Empire to the early Middle Ages, from the spread of early metalworking technologies to ancient economic thinking and diplomacy in times past—the new doctoral students of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS are dealing with a broad range of topics. A total of eleven students are starting their academic work in the Kiel research network this late summer. During a special introductory workshop, the first ones were already able to present their projects and receive information about the goals and organisation of the Cluster of Excellence.

At the beginning of the introductory workshop, ROOTS speaker Johannes Müller welcomed the new colleagues and emphasised the advantages of Kiel as a research hub: "From a German point of view, it may not always seem so, but Kiel is located in the centre of Europe. Even beyond the ROOTS core topics, several disciplines are represented at a very high level at the Kiel University. This promotes scientific exchange and helps to discover new perspectives for our research questions". In the further course, representatives of the six ROOTS subclusters and the ROOTS platforms presented their respective units.

Work on the PhD theses is essentially supervised by the ROOTS PIs, who also work together on an interdisciplinary basis. State-of-the-art laboratories for archaeobotanical or isotope chemical analysis, for example, are available, as well as rooms in which finds can be laid out.

The Young Academy of the Cluster of Excellence augments the supervision work with further activities. For example, beyond their actual theses, the new PhD students will be involved in an overarching publication on ROOTS topics, being responsible for all steps from planning the topic to editing and making arrangements with the printers. "Publications are part of the tools of the trade in science. That's why it makes sense to get to know the entire process," Dr Tim Kerig, spokesperson of the Young Academy, said.

In addition, the Young Academy offers further training for the young scientists that provides additional skills for a career within, but also outside of, academia.

The new doctoral students form the second cohort within the Cluster of Excellence, which has been funded by the German Research Foundation at Kiel University since the beginning of 2019.


ROOTS welcomes new PhD students3
Tim Kerig, speaker of the ROOTS Young Academy, presents additional training offers for PhD students within ROOTS. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

ROOTS welcomes new PhD students4
The PhD representatives Benjamin Claaßen and Benjamin Serbe welcome the new colleagues. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

ROOTS welcomes new PhD students5
A Venue with tradition: The "Kunsthalle zu Kiel" with Antiquities Collection of Kiel University. Photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS

New ROOTS PhD candidates in September 2022 (from left to right): Laurenz Hillmann, Darja Jonjic, Gianluca Ricci, Fiona Walker-Friedrichs, Sarah Bockmeyer, Anna-Theres Andersen, Stefania Fiori, Henriette Brandt. In the background online: Anastasiia Kurgaeva, Florian Schwake.

Excellently explained: The ROOTS of fundamental human phenomena

Exzellent erklaert ROOTS at DFG podcastDoes a high population density increase violence between humans? Is migration a special case or rather the normal situation in the history of mankind? When did humans begin to change their environment? The latest episode of the podcast "Exzellent erklärt” (excellently explained) introduces the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, located at Kiel University. In ROOTS, scientists from the humanities, natural sciences and life sciences are working together on these and other research questions concerning the roots of basic human phenomena and their connectivities with each other and with the environment. The podcast episode is available online now.

In order to comprehend the complex topics of the ROOTS cluster, podcaster Larissa Vassilian spoke with archaeologist and ROOTS spokesperson Johannes Müller. In the course of the podcast episode, it turns out that some controversially discussed topics of our time are not as new as they sometimes seem. Humans changed their environment thousands of years ago, and migration has always existed, as Johannes Müller points out.

In the further course of the podcast episode, anthropologist Katharina Fuchs explains some of the methods used to research the aforementioned questions. Human bones, for example, can reveal a lot about living conditions and also migration routes of past societies.

Of course, the research in ROOTS is still ongoing. But there is already clear evidence that cultural openness and the ability to innovate were prerequisites for past societies to survive crises, says Johannes Müller. "If that's not the case, societies collapse. And I think that's at least something that can also be very crucial for us today," he adds.

The full episode is available at https://exzellent-erklaert.podigee.io or on all popular podcast platforms.


Presentation award for ROOTS PhD students by the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research

Presentation award for ROOTS PhD students
Morgan Windle (left) and Tanja Schreiber during the 2021 expedition at the camp of the Sel'kup partners at the Taz, Western Siberia. Foto: Oleg Kruglov / EtnoArcheoCentr

Tanja Schreiber and Morgan Windle honored for ethnoarchaeological research on knowledge transmission among Siberian reindeer herders.

Archaeological excavations classically provide information about material culture in the past. But what impact can they have on knowledge exchange and social learning within a present-day hunter-herder community in the Siberian taiga? This question is being investigated by Morgan Windle and Tanja Schreiber, PhD students in the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence at Kiel University. For their presentation “Collaborative Archaeology and the Reciprocity of Knowledge Transmission within a Sel’kup Community in Western Siberia” at the 13th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS13) in Dublin on 29 June, they received the prize for the best student presentation by the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research.
In 2021, both researchers had participated in an expedition of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS to the Sel’kup people, an Indigenous ethnic group in Western Siberia. As part of a wider ethnoarchaeological research programme, the team had excavated the remains of a traditional winter house of the semi-nomadic people dating to the beginning of the 20th century.
Both adult Sel’kup and their children from the nearby nomadic summer camp had participated in the excavations and had taught the scientists traditional knowledge and skills. At the same time, a transfer of knowledge took place from the adult Sel’kup to their children.
The two PhD students are using the example of the excavations to investigate this kind of knowledge transfer between heritage professionals and local community members as well as between generations. They explore whether this active involvement with the past strengthens the younger generation's awareness of their own background and the value of their traditional knowledge and cultural traditions. At the CHAGS13 conference they presented their observations during their stay with the Sel’kup people.
“We are very happy about this award. It is a great confirmation of our work so far”, says Tanja Schreiber. Morgan Windle adds: “We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the scientific committee of the conference and the prize selection panel, and finally the entire CHAGS13 organization team.” 
The work of Tanja Schreiber and Morgan Windle contributes to one of the six main research areas of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, which addresses the questions of what kind of knowledge is produced and passed on, in what way, where and when in human history.
The 2021 expedition was part of an ongoing project in the Dietary ROOTS subcluster, headed by the supervisor of the two students, Prof. Henny Piezonka, in collaboration with the Russian archaeologists Aleksandr Kenig, Khanty-Mansiysk, and Dr. Andrei Novikov, Novosibirsk, as well as the Indigenous Sel’kup partners.
The CHAGS conferences have been established in 1966 as the largest and most prominent international forum for trans-disciplinary exchange on hunting and gathering societies. At CHAGS13 in Dublin, more than 300 experts and Indigenous stakeholders from the fields of anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, and NGOs participated.

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.”

Carenza Lewis is a JMA Chair and research associate with the ROOTS Communication Platform.

Special guest in Kiel: Panel discussion with and lecture by David Wengrow

David Wengrow 21
David Wengrow gives a lecture on "Slavery and its rejection among foragers on the Pacific coast of North America" in the Audimax of Kiel University. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

David Wengrow (Professor of Comparative Archaeology Cambridge), currently one of the most asked archaeologists for lectures, was a guest in Kiel on 30 June. He gave a lecture in the extended framework of the Cluster ROOTS/CRC1266 Biweekly Colloquium and together with Kiel researchers, he led a panel discussion. Many researchers and students took the opportunity to listen to this renowned researcher and be part of the discussions.

David Wengrow is one of the current big names in international research on past of mankind. Together with David Graeber, who died unexpectedly aged 59 in 2020, he recently published the book: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. This book is primarily concerned with critically questioning established views on historical processes.

For the Biweekly Colloquium, which is organised jointly by the Cluster ROOTS and the CRC 1266, renowned researchers are regularly invited to give lectures. The announcement that David Wengrow was coming, had changed the routine. In addition to the lecture, which took place in a large lecture hall in the Audimax of Kiel University, a panel discussion was held in the lecture hall of the Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology beforehand. Due to the great interest a YouTube and ZOOM live feed were installed. Together with members from the Johanna Mestorf Academy, which ROOTS is part of, David Wengrow discussed various topics that arose from the intersection of the book and their respective research. 

His lecture in the afternoon was well-attended and entitled “Slavery and its rejection among foragers on the Pacific coast of North America”. He dealt with a little-known phenomenon: Non-agrarian societies on the Pacific coast of America had slaves. From a Western perspective, we would not have suspected this. However, slavery among these societies was not, as we might assume, economically motivated. By comparing it to neighbouring non-slaveholding groups, he made it clear that different groups had vastly different moral codes and political systems.

David Wengrow discusses the theses of his book with Kiel researchers in the Johanna Mestorf lecture hall. (photo: Jan Steffen, Cluster ROOTS)

 David Wengrow
Numerous students and researchers are following the panel discussion on site and online. (photo: Jan Steffen, 
Cluster ROOTS)

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

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.

The Enlightenment – An Idea of American Indigenous People?

The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and CRC 1266 invite interested citizens to a public lecture and a panel discussion with bestselling author David Wengrow (“The Dawn of Everything”).

David Wengrow author photo 1 - credit Antonio Olmos - rights not cleared - Info@antonioolmos.com
David Wengrow (Photo: Antonio Olmos)

Were hunter-gatherer societies of the Palaeolithic simpler than societies today? Are complex societies necessarily characterised by social inequality, as common developmental models of human history claim? British archaeologist David Wengrow and U.S. anthropologist David Graeber answer these questions with a clear “no” in their 2021 bestseller The Dawn of Everything (in German: Anfänge. Eine neue Geschichte der Menschheit). On 30 June, David Wengrow will be a guest at Kiel University, where he will present his theses in a public panel discussion with archaeologists from Kiel. On the same day, he will present research on the causes of slavery among early modern indigenous cultures on the Pacific coast of North America in a public lecture.

The panel discussion and the lecture are part of the biweekly colloquia of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation’. On a broad, cross-disciplinary basis, both large-scale projects investigate the processes of change in prehistoric and archaic epochs and the roots of basic human processes, respectively, and what we can learn from them for the present and the future. “The book by David Graeber and David Wengrow has triggered intense debates in archaeology, anthropology and philosophy, but also beyond the scientific community,” says Kiel archaeologist Johannes Müller, spokesperson of CRC 1266 and ROOTS. “So we are very pleased to welcome David Wengrow to Kiel. The exchange promises to be very fascinating, even for non-specialists.”
David Wengrow is professor of comparative archaeology at University College London. His co-author, David Graeber, who died shortly after completing the book in late 2020, was a cultural anthropologist and most recently taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also considered one of the leading figures in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In their book, the authors argue that human societies have known every conceivable form of social organisation from their earliest beginnings. From this, they also conclude that even more complex forms of coexistence do not automatically have to be associated with major social differences. At the same time, they challenge common perceptions about the history of ideas and trace back thoughts of the European Enlightenment to indigenous peoples in North America.  

The book hit number two on the New York Times bestseller list, and the German edition made it to number one on the Spiegel bestseller list in early 2022.  
Interested citizens are invited to attend the panel discussion and the lecture. Both events will also be streamed live on the ROOTS YouTube channel. The events will be held in English, and registration is not required.

Event at a glance:

Panel discussion with David Wengrow, Berit Eriksen (Cluster ROOTS), Martin Furholt (Cluster ROOTS), Tim Kerig (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), Johannes Müller (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), René Ohlrau (Cluster ROOTS), Henny Piezonka (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), Artur Ribeiro (CRC 1266).
Title: Have we progressed?
Date: Thursday, June 30
Time: 14:15
Location: Johanna-Mestorf-Hörsaal, Johanna-Mestorf-Straße 4, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Lecture with David Wengrow
Title: Slavery and its rejection among foragers on the Pacific coast of North America
Date: Thursday, June 30
Time: 16:15
Location: Audimax Lecture Hall C, Christian-Albrechts-Platz 2 (CAP2), 24118 Kiel, Germany
Link to livestream: here

The events in the ROOTS calender: here 

Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Kiel Research Statement against the War

Nie wieder Krieg by Kaethe KollwitzPoster »Nie wieder Krieg« by Käthe Kollwitz, 1924 (source: Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln link)

In the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies’ and the CRC 1266 ‘Scales of Transformations’, we have members and partners in and from Ukraine. Together, we have immensely profited – both scientifically and personally – from our joint work and research on cultural heritage in Ukraine. We see with horror how the areas and institutes, where we have carried out fieldwork and museum analyses with our partners over the last 10 years, are also reeling from the destruction of war. Many of our Ukrainian friends, colleagues and partner institutions are victims of totalitarian politics.

We strongly condemn the aggression of the Russian government and its military forces against Ukraine in violation of international law and humanity and would like to express our solidarity and empathy with our colleagues and all other people in Ukraine, as well as colleagues and people elsewhere, who are affected by the war.

In the interest of all people, we urgently call on the conflict parties to cease the acts of war, to break through the logic of war and to return to negotiations on solutions acceptable for all parties involved in the conflict. As we believe that war is not an acceptable way of resolving conflicts, we appeal to all responsible actors inside and outside Ukraine to work towards a non-military solution to the conflict.

At the same time, we support the Open Letter signed by thousands of Russian scientists and science journalists, among them several of our colleagues and collaboration partners, who courageously stand up against the Russian war in Ukraine and for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state.

Find the English version here.

Find the Russian version here

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

Hands-on archaeology


In May and June this year, citizens of the town of Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein have the opportunity to carry out themselves small excavations in their town and even on their own estate. The event is part of a citizen science project initiated by the communication platform of the cluster. 
Under the supervision of archaeologists everyone interested can participate in digging small pits of one square metre in residential areas, which will lead to new archaeological finds. Since the duration of the excavations is limited to two days, participants will experience the entire process from the beginning to the end.  
This will be the first citizen science project of this kind in Germany. 

Detailed information (in German) is available on the leaflet. (Downloadlink)

Shelby White-Leon Levy grant awarded to Andrea Ricci

Shelby White-Leon Levy grant A Ricci
Fig. 1 – Picture of Zeytinli Bahçe from the West

Congratulations to Andrea Ricci, scientific coordinator of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, who was awarded, together with Marcella Frangipane, a grant by the Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications at Harvard University for the project “Zeytinli Bahçe: the 1999-2007 Excavations. The long history of a site at the crossroads of Mesopotamia and Anatolia”.

The prestigious Shelby White-Leon Levy program supports the publication of the results of completed archaeological projects that have only been partially published or not published at all.

The grant will lead to the final publication on the results of the field activities carried out on the multi-layered mound of Zeytinli Bahçe (Şanlıurfa, Turkey) between the late 1990s and the early 2000s. At the site, seven seasons of excavations and research conducted under the scientific direction of Marcella Frangipane, director at that time of the Missione Archeologica Italiana nell’Anatolia Orientale (MAIAO) of Sapienza University of Rome, documented substantial evidence of a long and complex history punctuated by significant phenomena and processes of socio-cultural changes over several millennia from the Late Chalcolithic (early 4th Mill. BCE) to the Medieval period (13th century AD).

“The project aims to present the overall research results of the archaeological investigations at Zeytinli Bahçe in a coherent picture, highlighting both the fractures and changing trajectories in the local and regional developments, as well as the impressive continuity manifested in some periods,” remarks Andrea Ricci, the PI of the project. With contributions by various specialists, this study will encompass the analysis of the stratigraphy, the architectural remains, associated remains, a systematic and critical study of the absolute and relative chronology, as well as a comparative analysis of the archaeological evidence at the site in the context of regional developments.

“We expect that the presentation of the overall life of the site will provide an original perspective, contributing to the thorough reconstruction of a long and important historical sequence in a region of intensive cultural contact. This will shed light on crucial long-term socio-cultural developments along the Middle Euphrates Region, which was the scene of key events in the history of Southwestern Asia,” adds Marcella Frangipane (Fondazione Roma Sapienza and Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei), co-PI of the project and responsible for the scientific investigations at the site.

The project is planned to run for three years and will officially start in spring 2023, in conjunction with Marcella Frangipane’s position in Kiel as a ROOTS JMA-Chair holder.

Shelby White-Leon Levy grant A Ricci
Fig. 2 – Middle Bronze Age fortification tower

Shelby White-Leon Levy grant A Ricci
Fig. 3 – Zeytinli Bahçe. Examples of artefact assemblages of the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (EBA Ib)

Climate change and archaeology

During the last months, people from ROOTS engaged in many activities related to the current climate crisis. In order to face this crisis, archaeology can provide essential perspectives. The main conclusions of the Kiel SACC summit were disseminated through various media channels.

By taking a long-term perspective, archaeology can detect how climate change affected different societies and how they adjusted. We observe a link between sustainable economies and social factors. Societies with low social stratification tend to be more able to mitigate the effects of climate stress than more socially stratified societies. Furthermore, we observe that there were never abrupt, but always longer-term reactions, even to drastic climate events. A complex interplay of socio-ecological factors was always discernible. Typical reactions to climate change were, for example, the diversification of food use or migration.

Media coverage at the beginning of 2022

This message has recently been conveyed through various media. For example, Johannes Müller was interviewed in January 2022 by the German TV programme “alle wetter!” (Link available until January 2023). Moreover, Mara Weinelt, Wiebke Kirleis, Jutta Kneisel and Johannes Müller, all members of the Excellence Cluster ‘ROOTS’, were interviewed by a German science journal (Bild der Wissenschaft) on this topic. The ROOTS scientists provided distinct examples of different societies’ reactions to and consequences of climate change, such as the collapse of long-lasting structures, migration, innovation, or the diversification of subsistence strategies.

Kiel SACC: Summit Statement on the Social Archaeology of Climate Change

The Kiel SACC summit was held in connection with the EAA in August 2021 (link). During the summit, the experts discussed and evaluated the relationship between social, ecological and climatic change from an interdisciplinary perspective. The contribution of archaeology to the investigation of today’s climate crisis was identified by decoding past abilities to adapt. At the end of the summit, the participants formulated a joint declaration. They concluded that people have never been helpless in the face of climate changes, but have always developed creative solutions.

This declaration, financed by ROOTS and CRC 1266 (link), has now been published in February 2022 in a booklet in six languages. Thus, the important message of the SACC can be understood in English-speaking, Mandarin-speaking, French-speaking, Russian-speaking, German-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries and regions. A list of all 40 supporters of the declaration with their names, positions and institutions is also included in the booklet.


Find more information on SACC here
Download booklet here

Eva Stukenbrock appointed member of the French Academy of Sciences

Eva Strukenbrock

In recognition of her outstanding research on the relationships between plants and microorganisms, the evolutionary genomics underlying them and future applications in sustainable plant protection the French Academy of Sciences has appointed ROOTS member Eva Stukenbrock as a new member. This makes her the second scientist from Kiel University to receive this honour since the appointment of Professor Eugen Seibold in the 1980s.

See the press release for further information.

Congratulations to Jens Schneeweiss for his new DFG project INHILLDAUGAR

New DFG Project

Congratulations to Jens Schneeweiss, research associate in the subcluster ROOTS of Conflict (link), for his new project “INHILLDAUGAR - Interdisciplinary Hillfort Studies at the Daugava River: Merging and Decoding Archaeological, Environmental and Linguistic Data”. This project was recently financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Science Centre, Poland in the framework of the Beethoven CLASSIC4 joint project program for the 2022-2025 period.

In cooperation with Piotr Kittel from the University of Łódź, Poland (link) and colleagues from Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA) in Schleswig (link), Potsdam University, Germany, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, the Pedagogical University of Cracow, Poland, and the University of Latvia, the INHILLDAUGAR project focuses on understanding historical conflicts along the Daugava River. This river was one of the most important gateways between the Baltic Sea and the Trans Eastern Europe waterways and emerged as central trade route during the Middle Ages. Approximately 30 fortified settlements have been identified along the 350 km long Latvian section of the river, testifying to the use and control of this waterway. Despite their considerable number, concentration and historical importance, these hillforts are still inconsistently studied. By combining palaeoenvironmental studies, archaeological investigations and language history, the INHILLDAUGAR project will investigate the archaeological river landscape of the Daugava Basin in order to allow for interpretations regarding patterns of historical development in the Baltic-Slavic-Scandinavian contact area. In particular, INHILLDAUGAR will examine different aspects of fortifications along the Daugava River in order to address central research questions concerning chronology, functions, maintenance, demography, and conflict potential.

An important focus of the project will be the analysis of historical conflict resolution along the Daugava River by applying theoretical models of escalation and de-escalation processes developed within the Subcluster ROOTS of Conflict. One of the goals of the project is to jointly model the mechanisms of ethnic and social conflicts in the area, such as rivalry for the control over Daugava waterway, as well as to shed light on the role of environmental conditions. It is expected that this innovative approach of interpreting fortifications in the context of differing interests, social inequality, ethnic or religious differences will lead to new interpretation of known structures.

The cooperation between German, Polish and Latvian researchers within the INHILLDAUGAR project is crucial to better understand Latvian fortifications and to create new research perspectives for the study of the Daugava hillforts and hillfort research in the Baltic Sea region in general.

Fig. 1: Research status categories of the accessible hillforts of the Daugava Valley (after A. Vasks, 2021. Pilskalni. In: A. Vasks, G. Zariņa (eds.), Latvijas Arheoloģijas rokasgrāmata.)



New DFG Project
Fig. 2: Daugmale Hillfort (Daugmales pilskalns): medieval archaeological context, DTM, archive and present photographs (after M. Mägi, 2015. Chapter 4. Bound for the Eastern Baltic: Trade and Centres AD 800–1200. In: Barrett, J., Gibbon, S. (eds.) Maritime Societies of the Viking and Medieval World. Maney Publishing, 41-61, and www.latvian-hillforts.lv)

ROOTS Participation at Øster Lem Hede – one of the Danish top 10 archaeological finds of 2021

ROOTS Participation at Øster Lem HedeExcavation of features (photo: ArkVest, Esben Schlosser Mauritsen).

The discovery of the 5000-year-old cult site of Øster Lem Hede is among the top ten Danish archaeological finds of 2021.

Ten years ago, archaeologists from Archaeologi Vestjylland discovered archaeological traces on Øster Lem Hede between Ringkøbing and Skjern. Research in 2021, conducted with ROOTS’ participation including coring and a geomagnetic survey (link), revealed a 5000-year-old cult site. The find is so unique that the Danish Agency for Cultural Heritage has named it one of the ten most spectacular archaeological finds of 2021.
In 2021, archaeologists from Archaeologi Vestjylland excavated the ridge on Øster Lem Hede, where a wide ditch with a low moat was observed years ago. In anticipation of excavating a fortified village, where Iron Age people settled in a time marked by conflict, it turned out that pieces of burnt flint axes from the Neolithic period (3500-2800 BC; i.e. about 3000 years older than expected) emerged from under the ground. Finds of this type are often evidence of cultic rituals, and where the moat was observed, a 2.5-metre deep ditchappeared. Pottery sherds dating to 2900-2800 BC were also identified.
Thanks to the support of the Danish Nature Agency, the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern and the Danish Agency for Cultural Heritage, permission was granted to carry out a detailed survey of a highly preserved area, where the moor is both a protected monument and a protected area. Here, archaeological traces are well-preserved and can be further explored in the future.  


More information on this annual prize (in Danish) can be found here: link
Joining from ROOTS: Anna K. Loy, Solveig Ketelsen, Henning Andresen, Laurenz Hillmann

Honorary Professorship for Prehistoric Archaeology at Kiel University

Appointment strengthens research collaboration between the Kiel Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA)

Berit EriksenGottorf archaeologist, Dr Berit Valentin Eriksen, has been appointed Honorary Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at Kiel University (CAU) (Photo: S. Philipsen)

The Gottorf archaeologist, Dr Berit Valentin Eriksen, has been appointed Honorary Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at Kiel University (CAU) on the recommendation of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. In addition to her merits in archaeological research, teaching and the development of young research talents, her international reputation in the field of prehistoric hunter-gatherer archaeology, as well as in the field of cognitive archaeology at the interface between stone and metal technologies in early metal-using societies, was decisive for the appointment.

Born in Denmark, Eriksen has been a Scientific Director of the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA; link) at the Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Foundation Schloss Gottorf since 2009. As an affiliated institution of Kiel University, the foundation and thus also the ZBSA is one of its most important cooperation partners, and the ZBSA (link), in particular, cooperates very closely with the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology in research and teaching. The participation of the ZBSA was also a decisive factor for the approval of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the CRC 1266, two scientific collaborative research projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Berit Eriksen is an active member of the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies’ and a founding member of the ROOTS Subcluster 3 ‘Knowledge ROOTS: Innovation, Cognition, and Technology’ (link). Furthermore, she is a member of the Johanna Mestorf Academy where she has served as an academic host to a number of high-profiled academic guests from around the world. Moreover, she is a Principle Investigator in CRC 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation – Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’ (link).

“The appointment as Honorary Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology confirms the close networking between our institutions (ZBSA and CAU), and strengthens the development of further joint research projects within prehistoric archaeology. It is a great honour and motivation for me at the same time,” remarks Eriksen happily.

‘Bildwanderungen – Bildtransporte’: The Augustan World of Images beyond the Alps

Bildwanderungen BildtransporteToday we are living in a world in which images are omnipresent and where they have a constant impact on our everyday lives. Images are known from almost all epochs and cultures of humankind, so one can say: creating images is a part of being human. But why are we living a life with images?
The exhibition “Bildwanderungen – Bildtransporte: The Augustan World of Images beyond the Alps” addresses this question by using the example of the encounter between the Roman culture rich in imagery and the population of the territories north of the Alps, which had no ‘image-culture’ until then. More than 2000 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Augustus (31 BC–AD 14), these territories had become part of the Roman Empire. The exhibition focuses on a variety of imported and locally produced images, which were particularly associated with those people who came to the north from the Mediterranean region as soldiers, traders or craftsmen.

Exhibition of the Antiquities Collection at Kiel Art Museum (Antikensammlung, Kunsthalle zu Kiel)

Date: 16 October 2021- 16 January 2022
The flyer can be found here
For more information click here

Bildwanderungen Bildtransporte Flyer

Interdisciplinary colloquium on urban design

Urban DesignFrom 21 to 23 March 2022, an internal, interdisciplinary colloquium was held at the Kiel Science Centre on the topic "Urban Design. Cities in the past, present and future".

In cooperation with the DenkRaum, the event was organised by Prof Annette Haug from ROOTS and Dr des. Adrian Hielscher, Institute of Classics, Kiel University. The DenkRaum is a central element of the Excellence Strategy Kiel University Interfaces. The aim of this strategy is to help shape the future of society through research, teaching and transfer and to contribute to solving urgent global challenges from a scientific perspective. As DenkRaum Fellows, five young researchers with doctorates broaden their perspectives through collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines and in exchange with experts from business, politics and society.

Many experts of various disciplines gave talks during the colloquium. Two of the DenkRaum Fellows, Dr Annika Hanert and Dr Sören Weißermel, presented contributions on the topics "City, Memory and Orientation" and "Climate Justice in Urban Development". In addition, Prof Ingrid Breckner, HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU), and Doris Grondke (Port of Kiel) held presentations on actual challenges of city development in Kiel.
"I am very pleased with the workshop. It opened a wide range of new perspectives on urban design and will serve as a starting point for new collaborations," concluded Prof Annette Haug.

Click here for the programme.


Ötzi, Bones and Strawberry DNA – Researchers from F4/Dietary ROOTS at Groß Vollstedt Primary School

Dietary ROOTS at Groß Vollstedt Primary School
No shyness: The medieval bones from Lübeck that Ben Krause-Kyora and Katharina Fuchs had in their science luggage arouse great excitement among the pupils of the 3rd and 4th grade at Groß Vollsted primary school. Full concentration also when experimenting with strawberries "Is this slime here DNA?" (Photos: Friederike Flachsbart, teacher of the class; used with kind permission of the parents).

"Have you ever dug up a dinosaur?"
"Is that a real bone? How old is it?"
"Who was Ötzi's murderer? And why did he escape into the mountains?"
"Wow, a mammoth tooth is sooo big... did people really eat mammoth in the past?"
"Is this slime here the DNA?"

The children from the 3rd and 4th grades of Groß Vollstedt primary school were thrilled by the stories that Katharina Fuchs and Ben Krause-Kyora, researchers in the ROOTS Subcluster Dietary (link), dug up from the past and from their laboratory cupboards. For five hours, they listened with rapt attention about the decisive turns that human history took during the Stone Age, why the ice mummy Ötzi is so valuable for bioarchaeological research, and what old skeletons can tell us about past life. Without fear of contact, they marveled at how big a mammoth tooth was, how different the lower jaws of men and women looked in the Middle Ages, and how razor-sharp that Stone Age tools were. The children showed great talent in a biological experiment in which they extracted DNA from strawberries with the help of conventional household products such as salt and washing-up liquid. Krause-Kyora and Fuchs were impressed by the children. "With such inquisitiveness, the time flew by! This shows how important these topics are for early knowledge transfer. The children will remember this for a long time – and who knows, maybe we have archaeologists of the next generation in front of us here ..." reflects Krause-Kyora. Fuchs adds, "The children's enthusiasm is overflowing! This school day was a nice change from our scientific ivory tower and showed me how easily bridges can be built to the youngest in our society. Definitely something that should play a bigger role in our scientists’ working routine. We were very delighted that the primary teacher, Friederike Flachsbart, invited us to her class room".

„Boas Walks“: Revisiting the Key Venues of a Pioneer of Modern Anthropology in Kiel

Boas Walks

The “Boas Walks” is a student initiative aiming to show the participants of the “Boas Talks” colloquium (18-21 November) and everyone interested in the history of Kiel or cultural anthropology, the most crucial places that Franz Boas would have frequented in Kiel. The excursion is organized and will be led by two students of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology – Hannah Keller and Wiebke Mainusch.

During the walk, we will be visiting the key places and commemorating the events of two distinct time phases:
1. Boas’ years of study in Kiel, at the end of the 19th century
2. The period of National Socialism in Germany.

Postcard of main building of Kiel University fom 1905

Postcard of a colorized photo showing the main building of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in the Schlosspark with a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm in the front and the library on the left, ca. 1905 (Fotoarchiv des Stadtarchiv Kiel, Sign. 98.491)

In 1879 Franz Boas moved to Kiel to work on his dissertation in physics under the supervision of Prof. Gustav Karsten; within his dissertation, which he finished in 1881, Boas was researching the optical properties of water. However, he also chose to move to Northern Germany in order to stay with his sister Toni, who was being treated here by Dr. Friedrich Esmarch - one of the most acknowledged medical experts of the time.
Later, in 1931, Boas returned to Kiel to hold a speech in honour of the 50th anniversary of his dissertation. At that time, he was already speaking as a famous researcher. Franz Boas’ talk was devoted to “race and culture”, a topic he returned to again and again during his professional life. Just two years later, his writings were listed to be burned in the fascist book burnings, which were organized and celebrated by right-wing students and citizens in Kiel.
The Boas Walks will start on November 18th, 15:00 h at the Bus stop "Hospitalstraße". Starting at this point is no coincidence – it is the exact location where Franz Boas must have headed when first coming to Kiel since it is the place where his first flat and the hospital were located.
Although Kiel might look very different today than when Boas stayed here, we are confident that tracking along these various focal points will give us a glimpse of the experience he might have had. When Franz Boas arrived in Northern Germany for the first time, it was around the same time of the year. And even though most of the actual buildings he visited do not exist anymore, we will be providing various historic pictures, maps, and other additional information to take a deep look into the city’s turbulent history through the lens of Boas’ stays here.

 Franz Boas
Franz Boas during his studies in Kiel (Cole 1999, 94)

Map of Kiel 1869Map of Kiel, 1869 (Gustav Ludolph Martens, Verlag der Universitätsbuchhandlung Kiel, 1871)

View of the old city ca. 1865
View of the old city, ca. 1865, this photo was taken in the Brunswiker Straße and should be quite similar to the view Boas would have had from his first flat in Kiel (Fotoarchiv des Stadtarchiv Kiel, Sign. 80.696)


"Boas Walks"
Date: 18 November 2021, 15:00-17:00h
Meeting point: Bus stop "Hospitalstraße"

Boas Walks is part of the "Boas Talks" colloquium
Date: 18-21 November 2021 at Kiel University
For futher information about the conference "Boas Talks" click here

Public Lecture Series by the ROOTS/JMA-Chairholders: First-rate visiting professors from the USA and Norway at Kiel University

ROOTS Public Lecture Series Tim Kohler and Charlotte Damm Tim Kohler, Washington University in Pullman/USA and Charlotte Brysting Damm, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, will open the series.

In the winter semester 2021/2022, two internationally renowned experts are the chairholders of the “ROOTS/Johanna-Mestorf-Academy (JMA)-Chairs” at Kiel University. With their lectures on the 1st and the 15th of November, 2021, Tim Kohler (Washington University in Pullman, USA) and Charlotte Brysting Damm (Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology at the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø) will open the new “Public Lecture Series” of the ROOTS/JMA-Chairs.

The ROOTS/JMA-Chairs are short-term guest professorships, which are occupied by leading international experts. Located at the Johanna Mestorf Academy, the chairholders provide insights into their research and contribute to the interdisciplinary approach of the Excellence Cluster ROOTS – Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies.

“This new lecture series presents innovative research perspectives in order to reveal the interwovenness of social, ecological and cultural phenomena of the past and to highlight the ‘roots’ of current social and ecological challenges and crises,” states Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist and speaker of the Excellence Cluster ROOTS. “It is expected that particularly young researchers will strongly benefit from such a collaborative research context, since in addition to their expertise and innovative research approaches, the JMA chairholders also bring their networks with them to Kiel,” adds Dr. Andrea Ricci, scientific coordinator of the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence.

Tim Kohler will kick off the lecture series for experts and the interested public on 1 November 2021 at 16:15 p.m. with his lecture entitled: “Can We Identify Early Warning Signs of Collapse or Transformation in Social Systems? Some Affirmative Evidence from Pueblo Societies”. Charlotte Damm will follow on 15 November 2021 at 16:15 p.m. with her lecture about “Scales of Interaction. Quantity and Quality of Encounters amongst Northern Foragers”.

Mesa Verde National Park
Residential site in Mesa Verde National Park, abandoned in the late AD 1200s (photo: Tim Kohler).

 Overview of the settlement at Taborshamn
Overview of the settlement at Taborshamn, Arctic Norway, occasionally inhabited from c.7000 BC into the 20th century AD (photo: Charlotte Damm).


ROOTS JMA Chair Lecture Series
1 November and 15. November, starting 04:15 P.M.
Venue: Klaus-Murmann-Hörsaal, Leibnizstr. 1, 24118 Kiel

The lecture series will be held in English. 3G proof must be provided on site. Mask-wearing is mandatory during the entire event.

More information:
Find the German version of the press release here
Find more information regarding the lecture of Tim Kohler here and for Charlotte Damm´s lecture here.
You can get an insight into Tim Kohler and Charlotte Damm and their research here

Dr. Andrea Ricci (Scientific Coordinator Cluster of Excellence ROOTS)

People in ROOTS: Søren Wichmann


The ‘People in ROOTS’ series continues with an interview of Søren Wichmann, one of the postdoctoral fellows of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Last September, you began to work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your research here?
As a linguist, I look forward to contributing to ROOTS research, focusing on how languages serve as a window to prehistoric communities. A lot of my work deals with the development of methods to date stages in developments of language families and to trace their geographical origins. Through looking at the words and grammars of languages in geographical proximity, I trace contacts between populations in the past. When genetic data is additionally considered, there are very exciting opportunities to see new patterns in interactions among human societies throughout the past several thousand years. I mostly take a global, comparative perspective, but also deal with the languages of particular regions, for instance New Guinea, Madagascar or the US Southwest. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS therefore offers a great framework to look at languages “closer to home”, and I plan to apply some of my research ideas, hypotheses and methods to study Russian dialects and languages of India.
More broadly, what are your main lines of research?
On the one hand, I work on computational methods to address questions of historical linguistics and, on the other hand, I contribute to the development of the datasets needed to run/complete large-scale investigations of linguistic prehistory. For more than a decade, I have built up a database of word lists, called ASJP, now covering 75% of the world’s languages, which is very useful for all sorts of comparative work. I hope to bring this closer to a near full coverage. Over the past few years, I also participated in a project aiming at the automated extraction of grammatical information from grammars, called DReaM, and I want to continue this work. Yet another database that I plan to develop includes testing mutual intelligibility among languages worldwide, an effort that requires a large, collaborative project. Finally, I play a part in the GeLaTo project, which aims to facilitate a comparison of languages and genes. At the moment, I am about to finish a study on the rate of spread of languages worldwide, and with some more data it will be possible, for instance, to make some generalisations about how often people have shifted to other languages in the past.

Career life before ROOTS: What were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
My career started out at the University of Copenhagen. My first steps as a linguist involved fieldwork to study little-known languages in Mexico. My MA thesis was a comparative study of the Mixe-Zoquean languages of Mexico, followed by my Ph.D. dissertation on the Tlapanec language spoken in Guerrero, Mexico. For a few years, I taught at the University of Copenhagen and developed a specialisation in Maya hieroglyphic writing. This was around the turn of the millennium, which was a fascinating period in the field, with numerous discoveries on how the writing system functioned and on the grammar of the inscriptional language. My next main station was located at the Department of Linguistics of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. There, I developed an interest in language structures on a more global scale and started to work on historical linguistics using computational methods. Computational historical linguistics is a very rapidly developing field with exciting opportunities to participate in new developments. My last major station before coming to Kiel was Leiden University, where I was Co-PI in an ERC project about relations among languages of the Americas.

Life beyond ROOTS: What do you like to do beyond your research?   
As I was looking for a photo of “the real me” for this page, I could not find a single picture without another family member in it, usually one of my three children. Family life is what I do a lot. Moreover, I like to play different musical instruments and I do various things on a hobby-basis, usually failing epically, but I have fun meanwhile, such as learning Chinese, playing chess or making wooden constructions at my summerhouse at Roskilde Fjord in Denmark.

Søren Wichmann is a postdoctoral fellow within the ROOTS subcluster ‘Conflicts and conciliation’ (link).

You can contact him at: swichmann@roots.uni-kiel.de

Max Grund awarded with the 2021 biennial Dr-Gregorius-Mättig Scholarship

Max Grund and Gerald_Grajcarek
Max Grund (left) and Gerald Grajcarek (right).

On Sunday, 26 September 2021, Max Grund, ROOTS doctoral candidate of the ROOTS subcluster Urban (link), was honoured with the biennial grant of the Dr.-Gregorius-Mättig-Stiftung for his PhD project “Kleinstädtisches Wirtschaften im Spätmittelalter / The Economics of Late Medieval Towns – Businesses and their Protection by the Use of City Books”. The award ceremony took place at a festive service in the St. Peter Cathedral of Bautzen.
The foundation awards its grant for excellent research in the regional history of Upper Lusatia. Founded in 1650 by the physician and alderman Gregorius Mättig (1585-1650) in Bautzen, the Dr.-Gregorius-Mättig-Stiftung supports pupils, students and the local library. It was one of the most important charitable foundations in premodern Saxony. After the liquidation of the foundation after WWII in 1949, it was re-established by descendants of Gregorius Mättig in 2007.
In his project, Max Grund evaluates the use of textuality in questions of economic practices. He examines different late medieval city books of Upper and Lower Lusatian towns by investigating entries, user groups and the marks of trust and mistrust within the texts of the books.

Max Grund

First Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) – Research findings adopted as climate declaration

Archaeological excavations uncover human history layer by layer. The data on environmental and social developments sheds light on the impact of climate change (Photo by: Jan Piet Brozio)  On 6 September, the first Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate ChangeArchaeological excavations uncover human history layer by layer. The data on environmental and social developments sheds light on the impact of climate change (Photo by: Jan Piet Brozio)

On 6 September, the first Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) took place at Kiel University. The meeting was organised by Prof. Johannes Müller, the Speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, and Prof. Peter Biehl from the University of Santa Cruz (link) with the aim of discussing the status of the worldwide research on social archaeology and climate change. The summit was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the European Association of Archaeologists (link), which this year was organised by the Johanna Mestorf Academy from 6-11 September.

Forty-five international scientists and representatives of international organisations from the fields of archaeology, heritage conservation, and climate research took part in the meeting. With the interlinking of the numerous international stakeholders, the summit gained insights from the past that are relevant to current transformation processes and can also help us to better understand current transformation processes. The study of past climate events and societies are closely connected, as Johannes Müller explains: "There have always been significant climate events and people have always reacted to them. This can be proven by research. Parallels can be drawn to the present day – even with a long-term view over the millennia. Findings about climate change from the past and the consequences of such changes can also be helpful today".

By reconstructing past ways of dealing with climate change, two important insights could be gained for today. On the one hand, it was recognised that social balance provides the basis for the sustainable use of resources and the development of other forms of sustainable behaviour. Societies with higher social equality are in general better equipped to cope with the consequences of climatic stress in the long term than societies where social differences are great. Another finding is linked to the issue of mobility. Migrations are an integral part of human history, and changes in climatic conditions have repeatedly led to forced migrations. Various migrations can be traced for the last ten thousand years and shaped our world.

Climate change was also a crucial topic during the Annual Meeting of the EAA, leading to the adoption of a European “Kiel EAA Declaration”, which states that climate change endangers archaeological legacies. Climate-related forces affecting archaeological sites include coastal erosion, sea-level rise, droughts, floods, the drying of soils, such as peat, soil erosion, increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires, changes in weather leading to extreme heat, rainfall and storms, changes in vegetation and biodiversity, permafrost thawing and glacier melting. Accordingly, archaeological heritage management will face entirely new challenges. A rethink in many areas is necessary.

You can find the full press release in English and German here


Four films on the archaeology of Schleswig-Holstein on the ROOTS Youtube Channel

Cluster ROOTS Films

As part of the most recent EAA Annual meeting, which was held in Kiel on 6-11 September 2021, four short films were prepared to illustrate the archaeological heritage of Germany’s northernmost federal state of Schleswig-Holstein and the work that members of the Cluster of ROOTS undertake.
The four videos are now available on the official ROOTS Youtube channel (link).
We hope that you enjoy them and stay tuned for more video updates!

Landmarks of the North: Megalithic tombs and Bronze Age grave mounds

On YouTube

Megalithic tombs and Bronze Age grave mounds are the most visible remains of prehistoric times in the landscape of Schleswig-Holstein.
Megalithic tombs emerged as visual manifestations during the Neolithic period and represent collective burial rituals. At the transition to the Bronze Age, individual graves develop in the form of burial mounds. Both forms of monumental structures stand for great collaborative efforts. But while this practice was primarily for the community during the Neolithic, in the Bronze Age the focus turned towards the individual.
The film shows examples of these different burial forms, describes how they are being researched, and explains the conclusions drawn from the results.

Hidden treasures in the Wadden Sea

On YouTube

The Wadden Sea along the German North Sea coast forms an aquatic landscape with a rich archaeological heritage. Natural and human influenced dynamics and repeated catastrophic storm events have constantly reshaped the marshes and tidal flats throughout history, forcing the coastal communities to find strategies of adaptation to these changes. The tidal flats and young marshes conceal traces of medieval and early modern settlements and their cultural landscapes.
The film introduces you to the archaeological fieldwork carried out in the Wadden Sea and particularly on the small North Frisian island of Hallig Hooge. Here an interdisciplinary team 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 and aerial drone-photography are coupled with geoarchaeological investigations and archaeological surveys.
In their research, the scientists are faced with a special challenge: due to the tides, the sea reveals the seafloor only for a few hours a day.

Archaeo:lab – introducing archaeological research to schoolchildrenCluster ROOTS: Archaeo:lab – introducing archaeological research to schoolchildren

On YouTube

How can we raise children’s interest in archaeological research? At the archaeo:lab, which is part of the school lab of Kiel University, we offer children the opportunity to work as archaeologists for an entire day filled with hands-on practice.
The film accompanies a school class visiting the archaeo:lab in order to explore the aspects of life in the Neolithic. First, they will map the outline of a Neolithic house printed, true to scale, on a large tarpaulin and interpret it. Then, they will sift through samples from an excavated fireplace for the remains of foodstuffs and identify what people ate in the past. Finally, they will detect different plant species by using microscopic pollen samples to get an idea of what the landscape looked like in the Neolithic.
The scientific methods that the students are introduced to are as close to reality as possible and they will learn to distinguish between facts and possible interpretations of their findings. In the end, they will have a better idea of what life in the Neolithic might have been like.

Haithabu and Danewerk: UNESCO world cultural heritage

On YouTube

The significant Viking Age sea trading venue Haithabu and the Danewerk border building are located at a historic narrow passage between the Schlei, a Baltic Sea estuary, and the North Sea lowlands, close to the Danish border in the very north of Germany. Between the 8th and the 11th centuries, the sites were located in the centre of the trading networks between North and West Europe, forming the core between Scandinavia and continental Europe.
During the entire Viking period, Haithabu was one of the largest and most important trading towns. In the 10th century, it was incorporated into the Danewerk defence system, which controlled the border country and the narrow land bridge between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
The film offers a glimpse into the Viking Museum Haithabu with jewellery and weapons from richly equipped tombs and other exciting findings witnessing local arts, crafts and trade. The film will show you the reconstructed Viking settlement on the historic grounds and tell you about heritage management, conservation strategies, and knowledge transfer.


Das archäo:labor der Kieler Forschungswerkstatt feiert Eröffnung:


An der Station Keramik und soziales Miteinander dokumentieren die Schülerinnen ihre Ausgrabungsfunde. Die Scherben geben nicht nur Auskunft darüber, was für Gefäße die Menschen in Schleswig-Holstein in der Jungsteinzeit verwendet haben, sondern auch darüber, mit welchen Regionen sie im Austausch standen (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt)

Schulklassen erhalten Einblicke in das Leben in der Jungsteinzeit

Am Montag, 13. September, eröffnete das archäo:labor der Kieler Forschungswerkstatt. Bei Grabungen und Experimenten entdecken Schulklassen der Stufen fünf bis sieben hier künftig, wie die Menschen in der Jungsteinzeit in Schleswig-Holstein gelebt haben, woraus ihre Nahrung bestand oder wie ihre Häuser aussahen. Das Schülerlaborangebot ist eine Zusammenarbeit des Exzellenzclusters ROOTS (Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten) an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) und der Kieler Forschungswerkstatt.

archaeolaborAn ihrem Besuchstag im archäo:labor erfahren die Jungen und Mädchen der Klassenstufen 5 bis 7 auch, wie Archäologinnen und Archäologen herausfinden, was die Menschen in der Jungsteinzeit gegessen haben (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

An der Station Keramik und soziales Miteinander dokumentieren die Schülerinnen ihre Ausgrabungsfunde (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

An der Station Keramik und soziales Miteinander dokumentieren die Schülerinnen ihre Ausgrabungsfunde. Die Scherben geben nicht nur Auskunft darüber, was für Gefäße die Menschen in Schleswig-Holstein in der Jungsteinzeit verwendet haben, sondern auch darüber, mit welchen Regionen sie im Austausch standen (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

Eine sechste Klasse der Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule Kiel besuchte am Eröffnungstag das neue Themenlabor. Begrüßt wurden sie von Prähistoriker Professor Johannes Müller sowie Umweltarchäologin und Archäobotanikerin Professorin Wiebke Kirleis. Sie leiten das Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Kieler Universität und sind Mitglieder im interdisziplinären Exzellenzcluster ROOTS. Forscherinnen und Forscher aus den Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften sowie aus den Lebens- und Ingenieurwissenschaften untersuchen hier anhand verschiedener sozialer, kultureller, ökologischer und ökonomischer Aspekte vergangener Gesellschaften die Wurzeln sozialer, umweltbedingter und kultureller Phänomene sowie Prozesse. Die Forschungsergebnisse und der Arbeitsalltag der Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus dem Exzellenzcluster sind direkt in die Entwicklung der Angebote im archäo:labor eingeflossen.

Bei der Ausgestaltung der Lernstationen war es uns wichtig, den Schülerinnen und Schülern nicht nur die archäologischen Inhalte zu vermitteln, sondern ihnen durch möglichst realistische Einblicke in den oftmals von Mythen und Abenteuern geprägten Forschungsbereich auch das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten näherzubringen“, erklärt ROOTS-Sprecher Müller. „Vom eigens angelegten Grabungsfeld über die verschiedenen archäologischen Fundstücke bis hin zu den Werkzeugen ist daher alles so originalgetreu wie möglich.“Umweltarchäologin Kirleis berichtet den Jungen und Mädchen bei der Eröffnung mehr aus dem Forschungsalltag und was für sie das Besondere an ihrer Arbeit in der Archäobotanik ist: „Die Arbeiten sind sehr vielseitig. Neben dem Ausgraben und dem Gewinnen von Bohrprofilen gehören genauso die Probenaufbereitung im Labor, die Analyse der Funde am Mikroskop und die Datenauswertung am Computer dazu“, so Kirleis. „Es ist faszinierend, aus einer Bodenprobe 6000 Jahre alte Getreidekörner auszuwaschen. Auf diese Wiese schauen wir den Steinzeitleuten regelrecht in den Kochtopf, können ihren Alltag detailgetreu erschließen und sogar alte Kochrezepte rekonstruieren.“

Mit einem zehnminütigen Einführungsvortrag über die Jungsteinzeit von Dr. Katrin Schöps, wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Leibniz-Institut für die Pädagogik der Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik (IPN) und Leiterin des archäo:labors, startete dann der eigentliche Besuchstag. In Kleingruppen entdeckten die Schülerinnen und Schüler die verschiedenen Stationen zu den menschlichen Grundbedürfnissen Behausung, Ernährung, Bekleidung, Umwelt und soziales Miteinander. So machten sie sich beispielsweise in dem überdachten Grabungsfeld auf die Suche nach archäologischen Fundstücken, aus denen sich in Kombination mit Experimenten Rückschlüsse auf das Leben in der Jungsteinzeit ziehen lassen. Dabei erfahren sie auch, dass man an gefundenen Keramikscherben nicht nur ablesen kann, welche Art von Gefäßen die Menschen in Schleswig-Holstein vor 6000 Jahren benutzt haben. Wenn man Glück hat, kann man anhand der Scherben sogar herausfinden, mit welchen Regionen ein Austausch bestanden hat. „Ich fand die Archäologie schon immer faszinierend, aber dass man aus dem Fund einer einzigen Keramikscherbe so viel Verschiedenes erfährt, hätte ich nicht gedacht“, so eine der Schülerinnen begeistert.

Das Angebot des archäo:labors ist ab sofort über die Webseite der Kieler Forschungswerkstatt buchbar.

archaeolaborJohannes Müller, Direktor des Instituts für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der CAU und Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters ROOTS begrüßt die Schülerinnen und Schüler zur Eröffnung des archäo:labors im Hörsaal (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

Bevor die Schülerinnen und Schüler an den Lernstationen des archäo:labors praktisch arbeiten, erfahren sie in einem Einführungsvortrag von IPN-Mitarbeiterin und Laborleiterin Dr. Katrin Schöps mehr über das Leben in der Jungsteinzeit (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

Von Wiebke Kirleis erfahren die Jungen und Mädchen der Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule Kiel am Eröffnungstag des archäo:labors mehr über ihre Arbeit als Umweltarchäologin und Archäobotanikerin (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).


Über die Kieler Forschungswerkstatt

Die Kieler Forschungswerkstatt ist eine gemeinsame Einrichtung der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) und des Leibniz-Instituts für die Pädagogik der Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik (IPN). In den thematischen Laboren beschäftigen sich Schülerinnen und Schüler sowie Lehrkräfte und Lehramtsstudierende mit wissenschaftlichen Fragestellungen aus den Meeres- und Nanowissenschaften, erfahren mehr über die gesellschaftlichen Aspekte von Energie, erhalten Zugang zu aktuellen Themen aus der humanmedizinischen und biologischen Forschung, beschäftigen sich mit Robotik oder lernen, warum Boden mehr als nur Dreck ist. Die geisteswissenschaftlichen Werkstätten bieten Angebote aus dem Bereich Sprache, Kunst und Theologie sowie zu historisch-politischen Themen.

Mehr unter: www.forschungs-werkstatt.de

Kontakt archäo:labor:

Kieler Forschungswerkstatt
Katrin Schöps


Stabsstelle Presse, Kommunikation und Marketing
Sachgebiet Presse, Digitale und Wissenschaftskommunikation0431/880-2104

School classes gain insights into life in the Prehistoric Age


At the pottery and social interaction station, the students document their excavation finds. The shards not only provide information about what kind of vessels the people of Schleswig-Holstein used in the Neolithic period, but also about the regions with which they were in contact (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

The archaeo:lab of the Kiel Science Factory (Kieler Forschungswerkstatt) celebrates its opening

The inauguration of the archaeo:lab of the Kiel Science Factory took place on Monday, September 13. Through excavations and experiments at the archaeo:lab, school classes from grades five to seven can discover how people lived in Schleswig-Holstein during the Neolithic Age as well as what their food consisted of and what their houses looked like. The archaeo:lab project is a collaboration  between the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Kiel Science Factory.
A sixth-grade class from the Käthe Kollwitz School Kiel visited the new thematic lab on opening day. They were welcomed by the prehistorian Professor Johannes Müller and the environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist Professor Wiebke Kirleis. They head the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University and are members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. The research results and the everyday work of the scientists of ROOTS are directly incorporated into the concept of the archaeo:lab program.
“When designing the learning stations, it was important for us to not only convey the archaeological content to the schoolchildren, but also to give them an understanding of scientific work. We provide them with realistic insights into the field of research, which is often characterised by myths and adventures,” explains ROOTS spokesperson Müller. “From the specially created excavation field to the various archaeological finds and tools, everything is therefore as true to the original as possible.”
At the opening, environmental archaeologist Kirleis told the pupils more about her day-to-day research and what she sees as special about her work in archaeobotany. “The work is highly varied. In addition to excavating and obtaining borehole profiles, it involves sample preparation in the laboratory, analysing the finds under the microscope, and data evaluation on the computer,” Kirleis said. “It is fascinating to wash out 6,000-year-old grains from a soil sample. In this meadow, we are really looking into the Stone Age people’s cooking pots, we can tap into their daily lives in great detail, and even reconstruct ancient cooking recipes.”
The actual day of the visit then began with a ten-minute introductory lecture on the Neolithic Age by Dr. Katrin Schöps, research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) and head of the archaeo:lab. In small groups, the schoolchildren discovered the various stations on the basic human needs of housing, nutrition, clothing, the environment and social interaction. In the covered excavation area, for example, they searched for archaeological finds from which – in combination with experiments – they can draw conclusions about Neolithic life. In the process, the schoolchildren also learn from the excavated pottery sherds that it is not only possible to tell what kinds of vessels were used by people in Schleswig-Holstein 6000 years ago. From the sherds and with a bit of luck, you can even determine which regions carried out exchange. “I have always found archaeology fascinating, but I would not have thought that you could learn so many different things from the discovery of a single pottery sherd,” said one of the schoolgirls enthusiastically.

A visit to the archaeo:lab can now be booked via the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt website: here
The press release in German can be found here.

archaeolaborOn their visit day at archaeo:labor, the school children from grades 5 to 7 also learn how archaeologists find out what people ate in the Neolithic Age (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

At the pottery and social interaction station, students document their excavation findings (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

archaeolaborAt the pottery and social interaction station, the students document their excavation finds. The shards not only provide information about what kind of vessels the people of Schleswig-Holstein used in the Neolithic period, but also about the regions with which they were in contact (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

archaeolaborJohannes Müller, Director of the Institute for prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology of Kiel University speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, welcomes the students to the opening of the archaeo:labor in the lecture hall (photo: Kiel Research Workshop).

Before the students work hands-on at the learning stations of the archaeo:labor, they learn more about life in the Neolithic Age in an introductory lecture by IPN staff member and lab director Dr. Katrin Schöps (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).

On the opening day of the archaeo:labor, school children from the Käthe Kollwitz School in Kiel learn more about the work as an environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist from Wiebke Kirleis (photo: Kieler Forschungswerkstatt).




Kieler Forschungswerkstatt
Katrin Schöps

Two new JMA Chairs: Charlotte Damm and Tim Kohler

JMA Chairs

Charlotte Brysting Damm and Tim Kohler recently joined the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS as JMA Chairs. We are proud to introduce them to you and we look forward to their JMA tenure at Kiel. Welcome!

Charlotte Brysting Damm is the holder of an JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next four months until Christmas, 2021. She is a professor of archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology at the Arctic University of Norway, located in Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle.Damm
Born in Denmark, Charlotte first studied archaeology at Aarhus University. She then completed a Master of Philosophy Degree (MPhil) in ethnoarchaeology and a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, UK. Since 1990, she has worked in northern Norway, apart from two years at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  
While her PhD focused on the complex multicultural situation in Middle Neolithic Denmark, most of her later research has concentrated on northern hunter-gatherers. Although the majority of her published work concentrates on northern Fennoscandia, she has also done fieldwork in New Zealand, Botswana and Greenland and visited foraging groups in northern Thailand.
Charlotte’s main interests focus on the intersection between archaeology and anthropology, including past identities, multicultural and interregional interaction, rituals and cosmology as well issues relating to indigenous archaeology. She has led a multidisciplinary research group on early networking in northern Fennoscandia at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo and is currently a PI for a project on Stone Age Demographics.
While in Kiel, Charlotte will collaborate with colleagues in ROOTS and in particular with the subcluster Knowledge (link) in order to explore new avenues to address issues in hunter-gatherer archaeology.Damm

Tim Kohler is a holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next three months until Dec. 1, 2021. He comes from the USA, where he is a Regents Professor (emeritus) in Anthropology (archaeology) at Washington State University in Pullman. He is also an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute and a member of the ROOTS Scientific Advisory Board.KohlerTim while revisiting his University of Florida PhD alma mater on the occasion of an invited lecture (photo by: Tim Kohler, 2021).

Tim’s research has mostly centered on the US Southwest where he directed the Village Ecodynamics Project for almost two decades (link). This project has looked at many processes also central to various subclusters in ROOTS, including Inequalities, Conflict, Knowledge, and Socio-environmental Hazards. While in Kiel though he will be concentrating mainly on interacting with the ROOTS of Inequalities subcluster (link). One of his activities will be to set up a meeting for a project that has been recently funded by the US National Science Foundation, called ‘The creation and division of wealth and the long-term consequences of inequality: views from archaeology.” The first meeting for this project will be held at Oxford in November and Tim Kohler will be accompanied there by Tim Kerig, who will be representing the ROOTS subcluster on Inequalities. While in Kiel Tim will also be working on ways to formalize approaches to causation in archaeology, using in particular the rich datasets generated by the Village Ecodynamics Project on the relationships through time among population size, climate, wealth inequality, and violence in northern Pueblo societies.  
Another project in progress while he is here is editing a special issue of the Journal of Social Computing on a topic that overlaps with the ROOTS subcluster on Knowledge: “Evolution of Collective Computational Abilities of (Pre)Historic Societies.” Tim is lead author on the article introducing the issue, which will also include an article by ROOTS Speaker Johannes Müller on “Tripolye mega-sites: Collective Computational Abilities of prehistoric proto-urban societies.”
Finally, as time permits around these other activities, Tim is looking forward to getting to know as much as he can about the rich archaeology and history of the Schleswig-Holstein!KohlerTim Kohler (right) with some other members of the Village Project’s Community Center Survey, in Mesa Verde National Park (photo by: Tim Kohler, 2021)

Past, Present, Future: Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
The condition of sediments informs about environmental developments and human influences (Belauer See, Germany; Photo: W. Dörfler).

In order to discuss the global state of research on social archaeology and climate change, the Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (SACC) will take place at Kiel University in Germany on 6 September 2021. The meeting is linked to the Kiel Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), which will be organized this year from 6–11 September by the Johanna Mestorf Academy in a virtual format.

“The global consequences of climate change are omnipresent and have long since ceased to be a problem of the distant future” Kiel archaeologist Johannes Mueller and initiator of the summit explains. “However, the current discussion about the socio-ecological consequences of climate change often lacks a consideration of (pre)historical climate events and how the population of the time dealt with them. Yet, with the help of archaeological research, important lessons from these (pre)historical events can be used to better understand current transformation processes and build societal resilience” he adds.

The aim of the summit is to bring together international scientists and representatives of important international organisations in the fields of archaeology and heritage management to discuss and evaluate the contribution of archaeological research to understand the link between social, cultural, ecological and climatic change. The meeting will take place in the context of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and subsequent national and international strategies and initiatives.

Peter Biehl from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has launched the initiative together with Johannes Mueller points out “The aim is to highlight how archaeology, through the study of past adaptive behaviour, is able to enhance socio-ecological resilience of societies as well as their adaptive capacity to current climate change.” Furthermore, contributing to the understanding of the impact of climate change on archaeological and heritage sites as well as on cultural landscapes, museums, collections, and archives is also an important aspect of the meeting. The results of the summit will subsequently be summarised and published in the form of a declaration on the state of archaeological heritage and research effected by climate change.

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
Archaeological excavations worldwide like in Sultana, Romania, document the state of societies and the environment over millennia (photo: J. Müller).

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
The Wadden Sea like many of the world's landscapes, including their archaeological heritage, are extremely vulnerable to climate change (photo: T. Willershäuser, JGU Mainz).

Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel
Drilling lake sediments as part of an excavation opens up archives of environmental history (Sultana, Romania; Photo: J. Müller).


Find the German version here

Scientific contact:
Johannes Mueller johannes.mueller@ufg.uni-kiel.de (Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology)
Peter Biehl pbiehl@buffalo.edu (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)

Press contact:
Angelika Hoffmann ahoffmann@roots.uni-kiel.de (Research focus officer SECC/JMA)
The SACC summits logo (Kiel UFG, J. Cordts).







ROOTS presents at the 75 Jahre Schleswig-Holstein Celebrations


On Sunday August 22, Schleswig-Holstein celebrated its 75th anniversary with a civic festival and an official ceremony at Gottorf Castle. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS was also present and was represented by the archaeo:lab of the Kiel Research Workshop (Katrin Schöps) and the ZBSA (Ilka Rau). It was important for us to demonstrate the connection between ROOTS research and the public outreach activities based on it. For this purpose, there were also two hands-on activities on the topics of ceramics and landscape history. We got into conversation with many interested citizens about this and even our prime minister, Daniel Günther, took the time to inform himself about our offers for pupils and the general public.

ROOTS hands-on activities on the topics of ceramics

ROOTs meets Daniel Günther

Cluster ROOTS funds new interdisciplinary projects with 335,000 €

ROOTS interdisciplinary projects

In early spring 2021, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS invited its members to apply for funding in support of projects that apply innovative approaches to address overarching themes beyond single subcluster or disciplinary research topics.

On the basis of stringent selection criteria, which included novelty, methodology, interdisciplinarity, excellence in scientific approach, relevance in relation to the call, as well as collaborations and dissemination, five projects were selected for funding with the support of external reviewers from the eight applications. These projects will each be funded with up to 75,000 euros with a duration of up to 2 years. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS funds these new interdisciplinary studies on social, environmental, and cultural phenomena and processes that substantially marked past human development with a total of 335,000€. 

A presentation of these newly funded projects will take place during the next plenary meeting, scheduled for November 26, 2021. 

We look forward to the results of these investigations!


The following projects were funded in the framework of the 2021 ROOTS internal research grant call:

  • Project: “Food production pathways (FPP), dietary dynamics, and climate change in the southern Levant”. PIs: Cheryl Makarewicz, Ralph Schneider, and Henny Piezonka.
  • Project: “Between domestication and invasion: rethinking the socio-environmental ROOTS of crops, weeds and invasive species”. PIs: Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, Wiebke Kirleis, Eva Stukenbrock, Alexandra Erfmeier, Konrad Ott, Ben Krause-Kyora, Katrin Schöps, Jens Schneeweiß, and Guillermo Torres.
  • Project: “3DARK DEPTH - Describing, Discussing and Developing Analytical Research Knowledge of the Dark Earth Phenomenon in Theory and Practice”. PIs: Jens Schneeweiß, Eileen Eckmeier, Pawel Cembrzynski, Ben Krause-Kyora, Wiebke Kirleis, and Katrin Schöps.
  • Project: “Interlinking exchange: The search for communalities in prehistoric networks (Europe, W-Asia, N-Africa - 8000 to 1 BCE)”. PIs: Johanna Hilpert, Tim Kerig, Lorenz Kienle, Jutta Kneisel, Oliver Nakoinz, Matthias Renz, and Andrea Ricci.
  • Project: “The Forest Finns as a Model for the Early Slavic Migration”. PIs: Jens Schneeweiß, Magdalena Schmid, Vesa Arponen, Ben Krause-Kyora, Henny Piezonka, Wiebke Kirleis, Eileen Eckmeier, Sofia (Sonja) Filatova, and John Meadows.

Michaela Ecker granted with a prestigious DFG Emily Noether Project

Ecker Kalahari
Landscape in the southern Kalahari near Tsabong in Botswana. Stone artefacts are visible in the foreground of the image (photo: Michael Ecker).

On the Trail of Human Development in the Kalahari. In the framework of a newly approved DFG project, the member of ROOTS, Michaela Ecker, investigates the influence of climate change on the evolution of modern humans in Africa.

That Africa is the cradle of humankind is meanwhile scientifically proven. Fossil finds date the presence of Homo sapiens, today’s humans, to ca. 300,000 years before our time. However, much is still unexplained for the early phase of human development. What influence did climate change have on human development and what role did it play in the emergence of Homo sapiens as the only surviving species among many?

In order to get to the bottom of these questions, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has granted the archaeologist Dr. Michaela Ecker, of the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University, and member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, 1.3 million Euros for the next six years. The funding is provided in the framework of the Emmy Noether Program, which enables outstanding young scientists to qualify for a professorship at an early stage by leading their own working group.
The evolution of humans in Africa is closely linked to environmental and landscape changes. “However, there is hardly any environmental data from terrestrial archives in Southern Africa, in order to understand the influence of this climate change on the biological and cultural evolution of Homo sapiens,” explains Ecker. The project “Kgalagadi Human Origins” begins here and focuses on reconstructions of past climate and environmental conditions at the investigated archaeological sites in the southern Kalahari basin within the border region of Botswana and South Africa.

“In this context, we are concentrating on the time period between 800,000 and 400,000 years before today,” states Ecker. “This was a time of extreme climate change, which is characterised by an increase in the number and intensity of glacial-interglacial climatic phases, i.e. cold and warm periods.”
In close cooperation with archaeologists from Botswana and South Africa as well as international experts from the USA and Great Britain, Ecker reconstructs changes in the flora and the seasonality of precipitation, which have led to the current very dry environment. “The results of this project contribute to our knowledge about human-environmental adaptations in times of severe climate change,” says Ecker.
The new interdisciplinary Emmy Noether group is networked with several institutes of Kiel University. Ecker works together with scientists from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, the Institute of Geosciences, the Institute for Ecosystem Research, and the Leibniz-Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research.

The project officially commenced on June 1st, 2021. The first field campaign is planned for this year, providing that the COVID-19 circumstances permit it.

Congratulations Michaela!


The original press release in German and English can be found here: Link

Project homepage: www.kho-project.com


Black Gold: Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations

Black Gold
As a by-product of research on social and agricultural transformations in the Late Bronze Age archaeobotanist Wiebke Kirleis together with her team has produced an educational film documenting archaeobotanical sample preparation.
The 11 minute short film shows the individual steps that each archaeobotanical sample has to go through – step by step and meticulously explained, understandable for pros and laymen alike. The advantage of bucket flotation presented here is that samples can be mudded near the excavation site – even in extremely shallow waters.  Another advantage: instead of a 10-litre bucket full of sediment, only a sample bag with a sip of water needs to be brought to the lab. At the Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory, the samples are washed, dried, and eventuelly sorted and determined under the binocular microscope.
With this educational film, there is a digital format is available that can be used to prepare practical archaeobotanical exercises and archaeological excavations at universities, and can also be used for museum education and in the archaeo:lab (link to ROOTS website and link to Forschungswerkstatt).
The search for old plant remains, i.e. archaeobotanical analyses, allows us to decipher the diet of the time and make statements about agriculture. In this case, the cooperation between archaeologists and archaeobotanists expands the knowledge about an archaeological site and the living conditions and makes it possible to understand how everyday life was organised at that time.
The film which comes in a German and an English version was made during an excavation in Dobbin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) under the direction of Jutta Kneisel. 

The English version:

On YouTube

The German version:

On YouTube


Find more information on the Botanical Platform here

Contact: Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis wiebke.kirleis@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Plague case 5000 years ago in Latvia: No evidence of an epidemic at the time

ancient DNA

Skull bones of the man who was buried in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. The research team has discovered the plague pathogen in these bones (photo: Dominik Göldner, BGAEU, Berlin).

A research team from Kiel University in Germany has found new clues to the evolution of the pathogen, based on DNA from a 5000-year-old plague case.

The plague, which caused a pandemic in the late Middle Ages, leading to an estimated 25 million deaths worldwide known as the "Black Death", is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), which occurs especially in rodents and can be transmitted to humans by fleas as well as from person to person. Recent studies have shown that the pathogen already infected humans much earlier, but how exactly it evolved, and when it became dangerous for humans are the subject of current scientific research. A team from Kiel University (CAU), in collaboration with the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schloss Gottorf, and the Institute of Latvian History of the Latvian University of Riga (LVI), has now discovered the genome of the plague pathogen in the remains of a man who lived in what is today Latvia around 5000 years ago. The analyses provide insight into the very early stages of the evolution of Y. pestis. Contrary to what was previously assumed, the results show that the bacteria already infected people at the beginning of the Neolithic Period, but probably had only a limited potential for infection, so that they could not yet spread in epidemic proportions. The team published their results today in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

The researchers examined the remains of four individuals who were all buried in the same place in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. "Previously, little was known about the hunter-fisher-gatherers who lived in north-eastern Europe at the time, and about their exposure to infectious diseases," explained coordinating author Professor Ben Krause-Kyora, biochemist and archaeologist at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at the CAU and member of the Clusters of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI), "ROOTS – Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies“ as well as in the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 „Scales of Transformation“ (CRC 1266). Using special analysis methods established in Kiel, the team investigated the ancient DNA from the human remains, such as teeth and bones, for bacterial and viral pathogens. They identified parts of the genome of Y. pestis, the plague pathogen, in a male individual.

Since after so many years the DNA in the bones is only present in small pieces, the scientists had to reassemble the genome of the bacterium from the individual fragments. They analyzed the reconstructed genome along with genetic information from more recent plague strains to find out where the Latvian strain comes from, and how and when it evolved. They dated the origin of this pathogen strain to the beginning of the Neolithic Period around 7000 years ago. The strain investigated is thus the earliest to date in the evolution of the plague pathogen. "Our estimate is around 1000 years earlier than previously assumed," said co-initiator Dr. Harald Lübke, researcher at the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schloss Gottorf, and member of the CRC 1266.

The starting point for the work was the scientific assumption that plague epidemics did already occur during the Neolithic Period. "We were looking for factors that enable pathogens to trigger epidemics in general. We wanted to investigate this in more detail, based on the plague pathogen," explained Krause-Kyora. "However, contrary to expectations, our data does not support the previous hypothesis of a pneumonic plague pandemic during this period. In contrast, our analyses suggest that this very early form of the plague pathogen was probably less transmissible, and possibly also less virulent, than later strains," added Krause-Kyora. Rather, the geographical and temporal distribution of the few prehistoric plague cases reported so far suggests individual so-called zoonoses, i.e., infections in which the pathogen was passed directly from animals to humans. The pathogen only later developed the potential to trigger an epidemic or even a global pandemic. "From an archaeological perspective, this finding is important because it suggests that infections with the plague bacterium did not lead to large-scale transformative social or political changes in the Neolithic," said Professor Johannes Müller, spokesperson of the CRC 1266, the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence, and director of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at Kiel University.

"The results contribute also to a better understanding of how zoonoses have arisen and continue to arise, and how this in turn can develop into epidemics and pandemics," said Professor Stefan Schreiber, spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence PMI, director of the IKMB and also director of the Department of Internal Medicine I at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel.

Research into ancient human DNA and old pathogens in general can also provide more information about modern diseases, such as chronic inflammatory diseases. While infections were a major challenge to the human immune system in the past millennia, due to living conditions such as hygiene and nutrition, nowadays it is more common for a dysregulated immune system to cause chronic inflammations. There could very well be an evolutionary link between the two aspects. "We can better understand modern diseases of the immune system and their origins, if we know more about the pathogens that used to be particularly challenging for the human immune system. Therefore, their research has long been an important focus in the Cluster of Excellence PMI," said Schreiber.

The project was supported by the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI), the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 "Scales of Transformation"; the archaeological research on the Riņņukalns site is part of the research project "Riņņukalns, a Neolithic freshwater shell midden site in northern Latvia and its significance for cultural development of the Eastern Baltic Stone Age" of the ZBSA in cooperation with the LVI; all funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

ancient DNAJawbone of the man who was buried in Riņņukalns, Latvia, around 5000 years ago. The research team has discovered the DNA of the plague-causing pathogen in this material (photo: Dominik Göldner, BGAEU, Berlin).

ancient DNA
The Ancient DNA Lab which is the specialized laboratory for ancient DNA, is part of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University (CAU). Its core is the cleanroom, which is needed to process the tiny amounts of highly degraded DNA that are typically found in ancient skeletal remains (photo: B. Krause-Kyora, Kiel university).

The Riņņukalns site, a Stone Age shell midden on the banks of the Salaca River near the outflow from Lake Burtniek (photo: Harald Lübke, ZBSA, Schloss Gottorf).


Find the German version here

Prof. Dr. Ben Krause-Kyora b.krause-kyora@ikmb.uni-kiel.de
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB)
Kiel University (CAU) and University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)

Original publication:
Susat et al.: A 5,000-year-old hunter-gatherer already plagued by Yersinia pestis. Cell Reports (2021). https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(21)00645-8 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109278

Oliver Nakoinz, new Professor for Quantitative Archaeology at Kiel University

NakoinzThe Kiel archaeologist, Oliver Nakoinz, has been appointed to a professorship of quantitative archaeology at Kiel University (photo: private).

Appointment strengthens research area at the Kiel Institute for Prehistory and Early History

The Kiel archaeologist and member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Dr. Oliver Nakoinz, has been appointed to an "außerplanmäßige" professorship for quantitative archaeology at Kiel University (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel). In addition to his merits in archaeological research and teaching, his international reputation in the field of spatial-statistical archaeology was particularly decisive for the appointment.

As a scientist in the Johanna Mestorf Academy of the Kiel Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Nakoinz is responsible for numerous projects. Among other things, his ground-breaking studies on spatial communication patterns in Celtic Southern Germany, which deal with the formation and networking of fortified Iron Age settlements, are to be highlighted. In addition, he heads the Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) as well as a modelling project in the Kiel Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1266 and, together with the University of Cambridge, a CRC project on the interaction between Northern Italy, Southern Germany and Northern Germany in the 1st millennium BCE. The renowned book series “Quantitative Archaeology and Archaeological Modelling”, published by Springer, was developed by Nakoinz.
“The appointment as a professor of quantitative archaeology strengthens the development of this research area”, remarks Nakoinz happily. Quantitative archaeology addresses the structures, which are more or less concealed in archaeological data. These structures are made visible with mathematical and statistical concepts and, together with archaeological theories, generate new knowledge about the past.

One area of quantitative archaeology is pathway research. In this context, terrain data is used to calculate how a route between two locations should be theoretically conceived. “If you compare these theoretical paths with empirical evidence, such as burial mounds that can indicate paths, you can validate how well different models are adapted to reality. From this, one can infer which aspects were considered in prehistory when selecting a route,” explains Nakoinz. The models can convey the meaning of the empirical results. “This enables us to more easily understand why people in prehistory acted in a certain way,” explains the archaeologist.

For decades, quantitative archaeology has been implemented at Kiel University and, in the meantime, Kiel has developed into a leading location in this field, which is reflected, among other things, in the Initiative for Statistical Analysis in Archaeology Kiel (ISAAK) and in the newly founded Center for Interdisciplinary Data Science (CIDS). The participation of quantitative archaeology was also decisive for the approval of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the SFB 1266, two scientific collaborative research projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

NakoinzA Bronze Age tumulus at Danish Wahld in Schleswig-Holstein. Such burial mounds, which are assumed to be located in the vicinity of prehistoric paths, can serve as criteria for theoretical models in pathway research (photo: Oliver Nakoinz).

Simulation of prehistoric settlement sizes, which illustrates different developments for different locations (photo: Oliver Nakoinz).


Find the German version here

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Oliver Nakoinz oliver.nakoinz@ufg.uni-kiel.de (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology)

Press contact:
Angelika Hoffmann ahoffmann@roots.uni-kiel.de (Research focus officer SECC/JMA)

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

Gerda Henkel Grant awarded to ROOTS members Marta Dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a in 2004 (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)

Congratulations to Marta dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt, members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link) and ‘Dietary ROOTS’ (www.cluster-roots.uni-kiel.de/en/about_roots/subclusters/diets), for their new project grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation (link) on high-resolution palaeoecological studies at Tall Zirā'a, Jordan (ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a).

Tall Zirā'a is a key archaeological site in northwest Jordan, located where the Wādī al-'Arab descends to the great depression of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. As a consequence of uninterrupted settlement activity over the last 5000 years, from the Early Bronze Age until the Islamic Period, a 20 m-thick archaeological stratigraphy accumulated at Tall Zira'a. In the centre of the tell, a spring-fed travertine sequence is preserved. The analysis of this archive is the focus of this new project that combines the study of the archaeological record with high-resolution palaeoenvironmental data.

The project ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a has been developed in collaboration with Dieter Vieweger, director of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman (link). This institute is in charge of excavations at the site. A field campaign is planned for spring 2021. This will focus on drilling the travertine sequence and searching for palaeoenvironmental archives in the surrounding landscape. Overlapping sequences of the travertine deposition and additional samples from the tell layers and the surrounding landscape will be the objects of multi-proxy analyses in the labs of Kiel University. Here the samples will be dated and investigated with palaeobotanical methods and stable isotope analyses.

The presumed continuity of the travertine deposition and its proximity to the settlement makes it an excellent archive of Holocene Levant environmental history. Palaeobotanical analysis of plant remains (pollen/NPPs, phytoliths, macroremains) from the travertine sequence is expected to deliver a high-resolution record of settlement activity and Holocene vegetation history at Tall Zirā'a. Stable isotope analysis combined with facies studies of the travertine sequence is expected to result in a high-resolution palaeoclimate record concerning the precipitation for the region. All records, which can be directly connected to existing palaeoenvironmental data from the surroundings, will provide promising data to yield a better understanding of the environmental history since late prehistory in a landscape known as the Holy Land in the bible.

For further information, please contact Dr. Marta dal Corso mdalcorso@ufg.uni-kiel.de or PD Stefan Dreibrodt sdreibrodt@ecology.uni-kiel.de by email.  
Additional details about the project can be found here

Tall Zirā'aPotential of prospected archives of human-environmental interrelation at Tall Zirāʿa

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)

Radio Interview with Bente Majchczack on the Archaeology in Wadden Sea

Bente Majchczack

Bente Majchczack, member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the subcluster ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards, will present his Wadden Sea Project in an interview during the radio program “Moin! Schleswig-Holstein - Von Binnenland und Waterkant“, NDR 1 Welle Nord (link), on Tuesday, November 24, between 7 and 10pm.

You can follow the program online here

3rd North German Stone Age Round Table

Stone ageStudying lithic artefacts together

On November 27th from 10am-3pm, the 3rd North German Stone Age Round Table organised by members of ROOTS subcluster Knowledge ROOTS and the B1 and C1 projects of the CRC 1266 will take place in a BigBlueButton room hosted by Kiel University.
The North German Stone Age Round Table brings together about 20-30 experts every year on the Friday before the 1st Advent weekend. Young and experienced scholars from higher education, research, museum, and government departments who are interested in Stone Age topics or work on current research projects, theories, museum projects, and theses related to the Stone Age of Northern Germany (Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin) meet here. In particular, this informal meeting is intended to provide an opportunity for discussion, exchange, and networking, which is why the lectures are explicitly kept short in order to provide sufficient time for questions and thoughts.

After Rostock (2018) and Wilhelmshaven (2019), the Stone Age Round Table was supposed to take place at Kiel University in 2020. However, due to the current provisions for containing the pandemic, the meeting had to be converted to an online format. At present, 10 lectures (see programme) covering topics from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age and 22 participants from seven institutions are registered. Interested colleagues are welcome to attend and may contact Sonja B. Grimm (sonja.grimm@zbsa.eu) or Moiken Hinrichs (mhinrichs@roots.uni-kiel.de) for further details.

The program of the Round Table is available here

DFG grant awarded to ROOTS member Chiara Thumiger

Celio Aureliano, De morbis acutis et chronicis, Amsterdam, Wetstein, Rudolph & Gerard, 1722

Congratulations to Chiara Thumiger, member of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and research associate in the Subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link), for her new project grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) on ‘Mental Health in Late Antique Medicine: Caelius Aurelianus on Mental Disorders’.

The investigation that Chiara will conduct as a PI in the next three years concentrates on the history of concepts, representations and methods of management of mental health and mental disorder in Antiquity. This research is pursued by focussing on the work of Caelius Aurelianus, a fifth-century AD North African (Numidian) medical writer belonging to the Methodist tradition. Caelius Aurelianus produced a major nosological work in Latin, which contains extremely rich material for a history of ancient medical thought on mental health.

The aim is to comprehensively analyse the development of medical ideas about mental health in the work of this important author, who has not yet received the focused scholarly attention that he deserves. The project will explore the diseases of mental import that Caelius Aurelianus describes (the classic ones – phrenitis, mania, furor and melancholia – as well as those that rather show his innovative approaches) and highlight the larger theoretical questions that he poses when it comes to mental and bodily health, to the causation of mental diseases, and to therapeutical possibilities. It is expected that this research will decisively contribute to current historiographies of ancient medical cultures, filling an important gap in the studies of ancient medicine.

In the framework of this project, a call for a doctoral research position (m/f/d) has just been posted (deadline: 31 Dec 2020): link
An interview with Chiara is available here: link and you can contact her at: cthumiger@roots.uni-kiel.de

Ignacio Mundo, JMA Chairholder (Nov 2020-Feb 2021)

Ignacio MundoIgnacio Mundo is the holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS for the next three months until February 3, 2021. He comes from Argentina, where he is an Adjunct Professor in plant biology at the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo at Mendoza as well as an Adjunct Researcher of CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina) at the dendrochronology lab IANIGLA (Argentinean Institute of Snow, Glaciers and Environmental Sciences).
Ignacio studied forestry at the Faculty of Agronomical and Forestry Sciences of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina). After completing his forestry degree and during his PhD and post-doc at the dendrochronology lab IANIGLA, he focused on the application of dendrochronological techniques for the study of disturbances in Patagonian forests of Southern Argentina. He has been mainly interested in studying fire regimes related to human influence and climate variability and its consequences on forest dynamics. He has used dendrochronological methods to reconstruct the occurrence of disturbances over the last 500 years, implementing annual resolution from scars and other wood traits. In addition, dendrochronological methods have allowed him to better understand the influence of climatic variability on the growth of Patagonian species and forest decline processes.
Ignacio MundoIgnacio Mundo

Furthermore, he also participated in regional reconstructions of temperature, river streamflow and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), a climate forcing that plays a major role in climate variability in the higher latitudes of South America. During recent years, he has been interested in developing an innovative dendrochronological technique called blue light reflectance (blue intensity) in tree rings as a proxy of wood density. In the framework of this research effort, he has collaborated with European colleagues in an inter-comparison and calibration density study, also adjusting the technique for Patagonian conifers.
In parallel, he has developed interdisciplinary research with Argentinean archaeologists since 2009, developing dendroarchaeological studies on shipwrecks for the first time in Argentina. The purpose of this interdisciplinary research is to provide dendrochronological dating for the construction and provenance of wooden shipwreck remains from the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries found on the South Atlantic coast in the Buenos Aires, Chubut and Tierra del Fuego provinces.
As the holder of the JMA chair of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Ignacio will offer classes on dendrochronology for PhD candidates and he will also collaborate in research activities within the Hazards subcluster during the next months.Ignacio Mundo


You can contact him at: iamundo@mendoza-conicet.gob.ar

Is our visual sense manipulated? ERC Synergy Grant awarded to Johannes Müller

Together with scientists from the universities of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and Brighton, Great Britain, Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist at Kiel University (CAU) and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, has been awarded a grant for an innovative research project, which will be funded by the European Research Council (ERC) of the European Union over the next six years with around ten million euros.

Under the title "Material Minds", the scientists want to investigate the link between material culture and human activity from the Paleolithic Age to the Middle Ages in different forms of society. They assume that "materiality", i.e. everyday objects and the built environment, plays a role in our knowledge processing that is comparable to that of language.

"Through their design and effect, objects embody standards and ideas, but also our traditions," explains Müller. "Seeing" is not something objective, but rather changeable. It depends on the contexts in which we live, but also on the power relations that determine us. Standardized visualization determines the mind and can serve as a means of exercising power".

The basis of the project is a database that depicts visual and perceptual behavior in different social and historical contexts. In a pilot study, the researchers investigated the visualization of ceramics and monuments of prehistoric European societies with the help of so-called eye-trackers, among other things, which are used to capture the gaze. They found that obviously very different, standardized eye movements are generated, depending on what is socio-ecologically constitutive for societies. In fact, they recognized neurological changes that not only influence 'seeing', but normalize it. From this observation, the relevance of the project for contemporary societies can be deduced. It examines material culture and representationalism as areas of danger and opportunity and explores the question: Is our vision manipulated and if so, how?

Over the next six years, the international team of researchers will conduct numerous case studies for prehistoric and ethnoarchaeologically ascertainable contemporary societies of different character. They expect fundamental results on questions of social research, historiography and art appreciation. Archaeologist Müller explains: "The project focuses on the potential for action of reification in world history. This is of great relevance, especially in today's world, where communication takes place less and less via writing and where perception plays a key role in digital technologies, as we can see from the current pandemic debate".

The interdisciplinary research project, which is funded by an ERC Synergy Grant and involves not only archaeologists but also a philosopher and a neurologist, combines the life, cultural and natural sciences in a new way. "With archaeology, a science is integrated which, like no other, explores material culture also in its temporal dimension. With neurology, the connections between visualization and brain development can be investigated. And with modeling philosophy, an implementation of both paths of knowledge with a socially comprehensive claim is envisaged", notes archaeologist Müller from the Kiel Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology.

The proposal entitled: "XSCAPE: Material Minds: Exploring the Interactions between Predictive Brains, Cultural Artifacts, and Embodied Visual Search" has successfully passed a three-stage review process and is the first ERC Synergy Grant for Schleswig-Holstein ever. A total of 438 applications were submitted, 35 of which were selected for funding, corresponding to an approval rate of eight percent. Four scientific teams are involved in this project, which will be funded with almost ten million euros over six years, including 2.2 million euros for the CAU. Two of the teams are from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas Spain. They are led by Luis M. Martinéz and Felipe Criado-Boado, who is also responsible for coordinating the project. The other two teams are located at the University of Sussex, Great Britain, under the leadership of Andy Clark, and at the CAU under Prof. Johannes Müller.

ERC Synergy Grants are the only funding instrument of the EU that allows collaborative research without thematic restrictions. Together with the relatively long funding period of six years and a generous budget of ten million euros for a maximum of four teams, it makes it one of the most sought-after funding instruments in Europe and worldwide. However, only outstanding researchers who jointly devote themselves to a project that leads to discoveries at the interfaces between established disciplines and to substantial progress at the frontiers of knowledge are eligible for funding. Only very few applications fulfill these requirements, which is why ERC Synergy Grants are among the most prestigious awards in science.

You can read the German version of this press release: here

  The ERC is linked to field research in different parts of the world. For example, investigations in the Indian-Burmese border region are being continued, which have already been conducted by Kiel University in recent years. The picture shows archaeologist Johannes Müller, one of the principal investigators of the proposal, during an interview (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

ERC also investigates the visualization of architecture. The picture shows the door of a house in a village in the southeast Indian mountain region. The scientists want to decipher the effect of coded abstraction, here originally combined with elements of "head hunting" (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

  Objects from prehistoric times, such as these rich furnishings from the Bronze Age, are examined for their visual impact using eye-trackers (photo: Sara Jagiolla).

Eye tracking will play a central role in the ERC project. In a pilot study, corresponding processes were applied to the so-called Bell Beaker ceramics (approx. 2400 BC) Eye tracking processes will play a central role in the ERC project. In a pilot study, corresponding methods were applied to the so-called Bell Beaker ceramics (ca. 2400 BC). (Photo: Felipe Criado-Boado, Santiago de Compostela).

To the press release of the European Research Council (ERC): here

Additional information on this project can be found also here


Presentation by Henny Piezonka on long term hunter-gatherer histories in Siberia

Hunter gatherer histories in Siberia

Prof. Henny PIezonka, PI of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and professor of Anthropological Archaeology at Kiel University and will present the results of her work on long term hunter-gatherer histories in Siberia at the University College Dublin “Hunter Gatherer Research Group” Autumn Seminar Series 2020.

Her presentation “Hunter-gatherers in N Eurasia: Transcontinental connectivities from the deep past to the present” will take place on Wednesday, November 4, 1-2pm (GMT).

The seminar will be hosted via ZOOM.
To register or for further information, email ucdhuntergatherers@gmail.com

All are welcome!

Steinzeitlive Arche Warder, Sunday, October 11, 2020

Steinzeit Live

On Sunday, October 11, it is “Steinzeit Live” and the Stone Age settlement of Arche Warder comes to life again. The culture and life of the first farmers in Northern Germany more than 5,000 years ago will be recreated in the Stone Age Village with many exciting activities. Archaeologists and researchers from Kiel University will present and offer insights into their archaeological research. Scientists of archaeozoology and isotope research, environmental archaeology and archaeobotany from the Excellence Cluster ROOTS and the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology will be happy to answer your questions. How did the people of Northern Germany in the Neolithic period live? How did they feed themselves 5,000 years ago? Which plants did they used? Questions are to be investigated both playfully and scientifically at various stations. The Kiel research workshop with the archaeo:laboratory will also be displaying facial urns. 

Tours to the Stone Age houses will start at 12 and 14 o'clock. Please register in advance: registration is possible for time between 11 and 13 o´clock and between 13.30-17 o´clock. Simply send an email to klingel@arche-warder.de

For more information (in German): Link

People in ROOTS: Guillermo Torres

Guillermo Torres

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Guillermo Torres, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Guillermo, you began your postdoctoral work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in 2020. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My research within ROOTS focuses on the study of a human niche and modifications of the human gene-pool introduced by alterations in diet and lifestyle along the construction of this niche. Over the last 15,000 years, humans have passed through important transitions that significantly contributed to the construction of their own niche. One of these major transitions was the Neolithic Period which occurred about 10,000 to 6,000 years ago. This period was marked by the beginning of agriculture and the domestication of animals as food sources and, in turn, by the consumption of a diet rich in cereals as well as milk and meat. This dietary transition from the (non-cereal-eating) hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the Neolithic lifestyle occurred in a short lapse of time (~500 generations), and it introduced a tremendous selection pressure on our ancestors who had not yet been genetically adapted to the new diet. Additionally, when the nomadic hunter-gatherers turned into sedentary farmers, their lifestyles were characterised by overcrowded settlements, close contact with domestic animals and a lack of hygiene. Such dramatic and rapid changes in lifestyle, a rather unbalanced and pro-inflammatory nutrition together with an increased exposure to infectious agents contributed substantially to the shaping of our modern gene-pool.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
With the transition from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles, humans were exposed to dietary and immunological challenges. Therefore, one line of my research aims to investigate shifts in diversity patterns of immunological stressors. This is done by analysing metagenomes from human bones, dental-calculus, and other environmental sources (e.g. soil, birch pitch, fossilised biofilms). The second research line aims to investigate human genetics to discover signatures of selection related to shifts in dietary patterns and/or immunological stressors. This is done by comparative genomics using whole genome sequencing and customised genotyping arrays.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
In 2009, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Biology at the Institute of Geneticsof the National University of Colombia. My bachelor thesis focused on the evolution of proteins playing a role in coral’s immunity to pathogens. In 2014, I received my Master of Science in Biology from the Institute of Biotechnology with a major in genetics. For my thesis, I developed a bioinformatic tool that creates an in-silico microarray to analyse soil metagenomics and metatranscriptomics from sequencing libraries. In 2015, I moved to Germany and started my doctoral studies at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology of Kiel University. In 2019, I completed my PhD thesis, which was titled “From hydra to humans – Insights into molecular mechanisms of aging and longevity”.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?   
I like to spend time with my family. In my free time, I enjoy playing football, visiting historic places, and taking landscape photographs. Besides these activities, I never say no to a cup of coffee with cookies.  

Guillermo Torres is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Dietary ROOTS” (link).

You can contact him at: g.torres@ikmb.uni-kiel.de

On the trail of pandemics. NDR SH Magazine reportage and studio talk with Johannes Müller


Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS have followed the tracks of pandemics with investigations on what caused diseases to break out more than ten thousand years ago and, above all, how people dealt with them in order to overcome pandemics. On Thursday, October 1st, NDR Schleswig-Holstein Magazine reported on the results of this research with interviews with researchers of Kiel University, including historians, archaeobotanists, anthropologists and experts in genetic research, as well as in a studio discussion with Professor Johannes Müller, archaeologist and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. On Saturday, October 3rd, a second reportage on this topic was broadcasted.

The two videos can be viewed following the links below.

Watch here:

On YouTube


And here:


ROOTS members at the “Ground Check – Cultural Heritage and Climate Change” Conference.

Ground Check

The ROOTS PIs, Hans-Rudolf Bork and Henny Piezonka, are presenting results of their research on the subject of cultural heritage and climate change at the online conference “Ground Check – Cultural Heritage and Climate Change”. The formerly postponed conference is now being carried out as an online event series.

On six dates between September 23 and October 29, 2020, the discussion topics will be presented by the speakers in a 3-5 minute keynote speech and then discussed with the other participants.

You can find more information and a detailed program (including registration form and links) at: Link.

People in ROOTS: Bente Majchczack

Bente Majchczack

The ‘People in ROOTS’ series proceeds with an interview of Bente Majchczack, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Bente, you recently began your work in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My project focuses on geophysical and archaeological settlement research in the North Frisian Wadden Sea and is part of the subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’. The Wadden Sea landscape is a very special archaeological and geological archive due to its highly dynamic nature. Throughout prehistory and into modern times, settlers were always compelled to adapt to rising sea-levels and the forces of the sea. While the area was mostly visited to gather resources during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, first settlers started to inhabit the favourable elevated marshes during the Roman Iron Age. It was not earlier than the High Medieval period that large-scale colonisation set in to reclaim all the marshes and fenlands for agriculture, protecting the efforts with dykes and drainage systems. It all came to naught when catastrophic storm surges destroyed large parts of the cultivated land and the settlements in 1362 and 1634, turning previously inhabited marshes into tidal flats. The remains of the lost settlements are now covered and protected by sediment. My research aims to prospect these settlement remains and understand how the people living in this demanding environment tried to counter the natural hazards.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Knowledge on the lost settlements in the Wadden Sea area is very limited, since archaeological findings only occur when the geological dynamics in the tidal flats uncover something. During the last years, geophysical prospection methods have proven their potential to uncover both settlements, dykes and field systems in large areas. We will conduct geophysical and archaeological prospections in promising areas to get a better picture of the settlement systems in different times of prehistory and the settlers’ efforts to protect their homes and cultivated lands against the sea. Especially useful are geomagnetic prospections to map remains covered by sediments and drone photography to map the visible remains. Based on the prospection data, we will employ corings to verify the settlement structures and collect and analyse find material for the datings. I am mostly interested in the currently little-known settlements of the Roman Iron Age and the Early Medieval period and we will compare them with the more systematic High Medieval settlement landscape. I think that the early settlers primarily adapted on a local scale by finding protected spots for their settlements, while the High Medieval settlers changed the entire landscape to their needs, facing the challenges of the natural environment. Nevertheless, through their dyke building, large-scale drainage and peat quarrying they produced additional hazards adding to the risks of rising sea-levels and changing climatic conditions. But socio-economic hazards, such as the plague pandemic of the 14th century or the Thirty Years’ war, also weakened the populations’ resilience and contributed to the decline of the Wadden Sea settlements.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology with a minor in Geosciences at Kiel University and some Numismatics at the University of Vienna. In my master’s thesis, I analysed combined prospection data from aerial photography and several geophysical methods to shed light on settlements from the first millennium AD on the North Frisian island of Föhr. Afterwards, I joined the State Archaeological Department of Schleswig-Holstein and worked for the site register and conducted excavations.
From 2015 to 2018, I conducted my PhD project within a project on harbours of the first millennium AD along the North Sea coast at the Lower Saxony Institute for historical coastal research (NIhK) in Wilhelmshaven (link). We explored Early Medieval trading sites with a similar array of methods as implemented in the Wadden Sea project in close collaboration with my colleagues from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University. We found the sites through aerial photography, LiDAR-Scanning, systematic metal detecting and archive studies, mapped the overall settlement structures with geomagnetic prospections and gathered further details with ground penetrating radar, geoelectric and electric induction methods as well as corings. The prospection data formed the basis for targeted archaeological excavations. It was possible to excavate exactly those settlement areas and buildings needed to verify the prospection data, characterise the settlement layout and gain find material to date the settlements and gain insight into trade and craft activities. I finished my dissertation in early 2020 and joined ROOTS shortly thereafter.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
I live in Kiel and enjoy spending time with my family and friends very much. Travelling and meeting people are currently somewhat limited due to the ongoing pandemic, so I find great joy in outdoor and home-activities such as bike tours in the Kiel area, reading, cooking and spending time with my family.


Bente Majchczack is a research associate of the ROOTS subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link ).
You can contact him at: bmajchczack@roots.uni-kiel.de

“Wellerholz” wanted!


Medieval half-timbered houses characterise the townscapes of many communities in Central Europe. As cultural monuments, they are highly valued. It is little known that, in addition to the wooden skeleton in half-timbered houses, numerous other parts of plants were used in the construction of these houses. Traditionally, linen slivers are added to plywood in order to make it flexible. Poppy and flax capsules as well as pea shells were also used as natural insulation material in false floors. Grain stalks were wrapped around oak stakes and fastened with loam to be used as so-called “Wellerholz” in the ceilings. The half-timbered houses are thus also excellent archives for old plant remains, which have been preserved in dry conditions over the centuries and provide insights into the history of cultivated plants.

Within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, a group of researchers from the fields of archaeobotany, archaeology, ancient DNA and molecular evolutionary biology reconstructs and studies the history of the domestication of rye. The material starting point is the “Wellerholz” from medieval and early modern half-timbered houses. So far, we have been able to analyse rye stalks from “Wellerholz” originating from Göttingen and Lüneburg, determining stem lengths of 1.80 cm for medieval rye. For present-day agriculture, which aims at high grain yields with machine harvesting, such stalk lengths are unthinkable. However, different parts of the plant were valued in past times and, in the case of cereal stalks, they were used as insulating material and as roof covering.
By analysing “Wellerholz”, we now want to carry out first investigations on the genetic code of the plant remains (the old DNA) in order to understand how rye developed from an undesirable weed to the most sought-after medieval bread cereal. The breeding of frost-hardy varieties, for example, plays an important role in winter cereal farming. For our research, we are dependent on the support of owners of traditional half-timbered houses, who could provide us with research material.

Are you planning to renovate your traditional timbered house? Are you interested in contributing to the cultural plant history of your region in Germany or abroad? We invite you to support us by providing a small sample of the original insulation of your house: every type of “Wellerholz” is welcome!

Download: PDF for Göttingen, PDF for Einbeck, PDF for Northeim

Dr. Sonja Filatova, Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Kiel University, Johanna-Mestorf-Strasse 2-6, 24118 Kiel, phone: 0431/8806706, mail: s.filatova@ufg.uni-kiel.de

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis, Environmental Archaeology/Archaeobotany, Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University, Johanna-Mestorf-Strasse 2-6, 24118 Kiel, phone: 0431/880-3173; mail: wiebke.kirleis@ufg.uni-kiel.de

People in ROOTS: Jens Schneeweiß

Jens Schneeweiss

The People in ROOTS series continues with an interview of Jens Schneeweiß, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Jens, you began your work some months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research in Kiel?
My research within ROOTS focuses on the archaeology of conflicts. A great deal of research exists on war and violence, but the holistic and interdisciplinary approach that we apply in the framework of ROOTS is very innovative. This opens new perspectives on the reconstruction of long-lasting conflicts and sustainable resolution strategies. In particular, I investigate cultural and territorial boundaries of the Slavic world in the Early and High Middle Ages. During this period, communities transformed from egalitarian to more hierarchically structured societies, while different worldviews and subsistence strategies collided. The emergence of polyethnic and multicultural trading sites as proto-urban central places can also be observed. This diverse topic offers numerous intersections with the research pursued by the other ROOTS subclusters.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Within such a vast topic, I investigate fortified sites in the eastern Baltic region, especially in Northwestern Russia, where Slavic and Scandinavian spheres of influence intertwined. Highly mobile warriors-trader elites used the great river systems of Eastern Europe as trade routes between Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea region, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, creating very efficient supraregional networks of interactions. In particular, my research focuses on two stronghold regions: the Volkhov River in Northwest Russia and the middle part of the Daugava / Western Dvina in Latvia and Belarus. Major fortified central places along the Volkhov (Staraya Ladoga, Rurikovo Gorodishche, Novgorod) are among the earliest Scandinavian settlements and gateways in Russia. In the second region, numerous fortifications protected the course of the river as part of the long-distance trade route. For a deeper understanding of the development of these stronghold systems and the identification of more peaceful or conflict phases, the most accurate possible dating of their functioning, extensions and abandonment is crucial. Consequently, a series of reliable radiocarbon datings is essential for the success of this project. Furthermore, I rely on other disciplines, including results from soil studies (micromorphology, biogeochemical analyses), scientific analyses of objects, geophysical prospecting, linguistic investigations of toponyms and analyses of historical data. All investigations are, of course, conducted in close and constant collaboration with local cooperation partners.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied archaeology and geology at the Humboldt University and the Technical University in Berlin. After a Magister thesis on Early Iron Age to Middle Age sites in Northeast Germany, I completed my PhD thesis at the Eurasian Department of the German Archaeological Institute with an investigation on the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age transition in Western Sibiria. I transferred to Göttingen University, where I was a scientific/teaching assistant as well as a curator of the archaeological collection. There, my investigations focused on the Western Slavic periphery in the Lower Elbe region during the Carolingian and Ottonian periods. This study created the basis for my habilitation that I completed in Göttingen in 2019. I also worked abroad at the University of Caen in Normandy at the Centre de recherches archéologiques et historiques anciennes et médiévales (CRAHAM) in 2010, and I was a Feodor-Lynen Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia from 2015 to 2017. During this research phase, I focused on the archaeology of the 1st Millennium AD with my own project in Belarus. A postdoctoral position at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig was my last station prior to moving to Schleswig-Holstein last year.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
My research is closely connected with travelling and meeting people. The possibility to experience landscapes and people is of great value to me. This is also what I enjoy doing together with my family. Our three young children are at the center of my everyday life, of course, and we all enjoy exploring new places and meeting with friends.

Jens Schneeweiß is a research associate within the ROOTS subcluster “Roots of Conflict: Competition and Conciliation” (link).

You can contact him at: jschneeweiss@roots.uni-kiel.de

ROOTS Retreat and Advisory Board meeting – a virtual success

ROOTS RetreatImpression of the virtual conference (Illustration: Tine Pape)

On 11 and 12 June, the second ROOTS Retreat and the first Advisory Board Meeting took place. This event was carried out under special circumstances, as no usual gathering with physical contact can be held due to the Corona crisis. For this reason, a virtual meeting was organized, which was not less challenging to host than a traditional meeting.
During the Advisory Board meeting, ROOTS presented the wide range of its projects in order to introduce itself structurally and scientifically. Presentations illustrated the research agendas of the six subclusters, the Reflective Turn Forum, as well as the three platforms and the Young Academy. Moreover, postdocs of the subclusters were invited to present the progress of their research projects.
In addition to the formal presentations held especially for the Advisory Board, the retreat developed discourses on our general ROOTS research topics that focus on “Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity”. Numerous talks from different disciplines contributed to this concept. Another topic of the retreat included the formation of individual “publication groups” discussed in parallel in different virtual rooms. These groups started to develop and discuss research topics related to the ROOTS cluster with the aim to publish the results as proceedings volumes for a future ROOTS compilation.
Impressed by the broad interdisciplinary research agenda, the Advisory Board attests the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS an enormous potential regarding scientific impact and public outreach. For this, the involvement and support of young researchers is essential.
One task of the Advisory Board also included the election of a board speaker. The ROOTS cluster congratulates Helle Vandkilde (Aarhus University) for assuming this position.
In sum, the second retreat and the first Advisory Board meeting with more than 80 participants, who gathered together virtually, was a success. For the future, however, everybody hopes that this kind of virtual event will be held again as a face-to-face meeting, since digital meetings can never replace the atmosphere of real social contact.

People in ROOTS: Paweł Cembrzyński


The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Paweł Cembrzyński, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Paweł, you began your work last October in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
My research conducted in Urban ROOTS focuses on historical urban ecology. In a holistic framework, I intend to study the relations between the natural environment, society and urban forms to find out how these elements shape and influence each other. Such questions require investigations of human impact on the natural environment, human perception and responses to these changes and what follows after such changes. Both a medieval and a post-medieval town stand in the centre of these issues as a stage, where all these elements were interconnected. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS offers a perfect opportunity to study such a complex phenomenon. In addition to issues, such as urban agency and perception, which are the main research topics of Urban ROOTS investigations, important elements of my research involve environmental and social change as well as the transfer of knowledge. By combining these elements, my project opens a wide range of possibilities to cooperate with the ROOTS of Environmental Hazards, ROOTS of Inequality and ROOTS of Knowledge subclusters.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
Historical urban ecology is a complex and difficult topic that has rarely been studied. To narrow down this enormous issue, I chose to investigate the ecology of medieval and post-medieval mining towns in Central Europe. These towns were dynamic places characterised by their huge impact on the natural environment, a great demand for resources, and an intensive social and economic struggle between miners, merchants, wealthy investors and lords. Their rich material culture and urban fabric, showing fortunes and aspirations of town inhabitants, opens up many research avenues for urban ecology. Specifically, I will target my research on two large mining towns: Freiberg in Germany and Kutná Hora in Czechia, which can provide a sufficient amount of historical data. As an archaeologist, I will concentrate my studies on material culture and the urban fabric of mining towns as well as the development of mining districts and mining technology. I will analyse social aspects of towns in close cooperation with historians. All environmental issues, including resource management and pollution, will be studied in cooperation with environmental science specialists. I plan to carry out some fieldwork on small short-period mining sites, which, in contrast to large centres with long-lasting mining, can help us to comprehend the mutual relations between mining and environment.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. My M.A. was concerned with water supplies and waste disposal in medieval towns and was published as a book. Subsequently, I started PhD studies at Jagiellonian University, which resulted in a dissertation about the genesis of mining towns in Central Europe. During that period, I spent a lot of time working on commercial rescue excavations especially in urban centres, which provided me with a lot of practical knowledge about urban field archaeology. In 2016, I was awarded a 3-year grant financed by the National Science Centre Poland for the project ‘Empty spaces’ in medieval towns in Central Europe. As a result, I moved to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences at the Centre of Material Culture History in Warsaw. This fellowship allowed me to work closely with historians, which greatly helped me to become familiar with historical methodology and approaches. It resulted in fruitful collaborations and inspiring interdisciplinary teamwork. As soon as I heard about the announced position in the ROOTS Cluster, I knew that this is exactly the place where I would like to continue working. I am excited to learn more about different fields of historical research.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
When I am not busy with my research, I enjoy strolling around town, exploring small streets and yards in order to observe and experience ongoing urban life. My favourite places are bookstores, where I can obtain something worth reading. However, what I like the most is to share all these experiences with good company over a pint of beer!

Paweł Cembrzyński is a research associate with the Subcluster “Urban ROOTS” (link).

You can contact him at: pcembrzynski@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Joanna Sudyka


Greetings from our home offices


In times of the corona crisis, a lot has changed for all of us. Perhaps you should currently be working at an excavation site, carrying out analyses in the lab or be in your office at the university. Instead, most of us are confined to home offices and still have to get on with our work as best as possible.
Even though all of us have to work from home at the moment, we do not want the ROOTS team members to lose contact with each other. Therefore, we will use our homepage to capture impressions from our home offices and perhaps even report about our moods and thoughts during this exceptional time.
The following videos would like to give you some impressions from our home offices and cheer you up in these difficult times.
We are really looking forward to presenting your impressions on the homepage! Please send your clips (via WeTransfer) and any questions concerning the technical procedure to Tine Pape tpape@roots.uni-kiel.de.

All the best and stay healthy!
Your team from the Communications Platform

Greetings from Ilka Parchmann

Ilka Parchmann

Greetings from Claus von Carnap-Bornheim

Greetings from Claus von Carnap-Bornheim

Greetings from Walter Dörfler

Greetings from Walter Doerfler

Greetings from Katrin Schöps

Greetings from Katrin Schoeps

Greetings from Ilka Rau

Greetings from Ilka Rau

Greetings from Jens Schneeweiß

Jens Schneeweiss

Greetings from Tim Kerig

Tim Kerig

People in ROOTS: Lisa Shindo

Lisa Shindo

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Lisa Shindo, one of the associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

Lisa, you began your work last December in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Within the subcluster “ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards”, my research aims to identify the nature, intensity and temporal variations of the ancient uses of wood and their impacts on forest resources in the Southern French Alps, as well as to investigate their relationships with climate variation and the restitution of environmental hazards. For this purpose, I use and develop methods of dendrochronology applied to living trees and past timber over the last two millennia. Moreover, at Kiel University I will set up a dendroarchaeological research laboratory and develop research projects in collaboration with the other members of ROOTS. For example, we will cross-reference different supports carrying environmental and climatic information in the long-term in order to identify environmental hazards.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am a dendrochronologist, specialized in woods used by humans, and I study tree-ring thickness (the concentric circles you see when you cut a tree) in order to date the time point of the death of the trees and to reconstruct the environment in which the trees lived. Dendrochronology is a discipline at the crossroads of human and social sciences (history, archaeology, ethnology), biological and environmental sciences (ecology) and fundamental sciences (mathematics and statistics): it therefore has a multidisciplinary perspective by nature. Thus, an interdisciplinary dialogue is fundamental to describe the history of wood exploitation, reconstruct exchanges between different environments, and identify climatic, ecologic and human hazards within tree-ring series. My research strategy is based on both altitudinal (up to 2100 m above sea level) and climatic gradients (Mediterranean to mountain climate) in order to better understand the evolution of wood use and our heritage in terms of forest landscapes.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied Art history, Archaeology and Archaeometry in France (at universities in Paris, Bordeaux and Dijon) and during my two master’s degrees, I carried out internships in many European dendrochronological laboratories. In 2016, I completed my PhD in archaeology and ecology at Aix-Marseille University with a dissertation on “Timber and forest management in the Southern French Alps: dendrochrono-ecology and archaeology”. After my PhD, during a short stay at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (University of Arizona), I was interested in wood provenance issues and data conservation (databases). Then, during a contract with the French CNRS, I worked on very old dead trees, whose carbon content was analysed at annual resolution with regard to climatological questions. In parallel, during free-lance activities, I conducted dendrochronological analyses for several archaeological sites and buildings. This allowed me to acquire new data that nourishes my reflections within the framework of various research programs (at CNRS and other university affiliations) with which I am still associated.
In my current ROOTS position, I appreciate the freedom we have been given to build diverse collaborations, and to have the time to analyse, combine and reflect on my data.

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to discover Kiel and its region, its historical buildings and museums, concerts and festivals, as well as to experience boat trips, gastronomic specialties (I particularly liked “bratwurst” during the cold months!) and to go strolling. I am also learning German in order to better understand the new culture. Lastly, I like to meet my friends and family to share my discoveries in Germany with them.
Lisa Shindo is a research associate in the ROOTS subcluster “ROOTS of Socio-environmental Hazards” (link).
You can contact her at: lshindo@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Myette Guiomar


The new ROOTS Social Inequality Forum

Social Inequalities Forum

A new forum for interdisciplinary and inspiring discussion on all aspects of social inequality now complements ROOTS activities. 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. At the kick-off meeting on January 30, Prof. Christian Jeunesse (University of Strasbourg) presented his ethno-archaeological work on settlement structure and burial rites in Sumba, Indonesia. Followed by a lively discussion in a relaxed atmosphere, the new format proved to stimulate scientific dialogue and new insights on past social inequality.

The next ROOTS of Inequalities Forum will take place on Monday February 24 (from 4 to 6pm) with two talks:

  1. Sabine Reinhold, Natal’ja M. Chairkina, Karl-Uwe Heußner, Dirk Mariaschk (Berlin and Ekaterinburg): „Elche, Schlitten und rätselhafte Holzkonstruktionen: Zur Archäologie in den Torfmooren des Urals“
  2. Ljubov‘ Kosinskaja, Ekaterina Dubovceva, Henny Piezonka (Ekaterinburg and Kiel) on “Forts, pots and people: New results on Stone Age hunter-gatherer socio-economic systems in Western Siberia."

Followed by a discussion.

For more information please click here

ROOTS Inequalities Forum

Videos of the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum award ceremony and presentation of the “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” project by Johannes Müller

4th SAF Research Awards

The research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe,” was awarded the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum (SAF) Research Award for the category “Research”.
The coordinator of the project, Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, presented the research results at the award ceremony on the December 14 2019 in Shanghai.

The video of the presentation of Johannes Müller can be viewed here:

On YouTube

All other project presentations as well as the opening ceremony of the event can be viewed directly on the YouTube channel of the Shanghai Archeology Forum – click here

Other links:

For the full press release (in German) please click here
For more information on the “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” project click here
For more information on the Shanghai Archaeological Forum please click here

Copyright information:
Photo by Jing Zhi-Chun, SAF

People in ROOTS: Nicolas Lamare

Nicolas Lamare

The People in ROOTS series proceeds with an interview of Nicolas Lamare, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

First of all, welcome to Kiel! Nicolas, you began your work last October in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
I am member of the subcluster “Urban ROOTS” that investigates urban agency and perception, in other words, how people built cities and how cities shaped people. My project aims to investigate ancient cities from the time of the Roman Empire through the end of Antiquity in the provinces of North Africa, today the Maghreb. During more than six centuries of history, cities were enlarged and transformed so deeply that the way they looked and the way people lived in them completely differ. Specifically, my research addresses questions regarding the way cities were planned and organized as well as the importance of elites in funding and decisions about the transformation of public spaces. Moreover, it tackles issues related to building legislation, the social organization of cities, and adaptation to climate changes. One of the crucial aspects is concerned with the study of the environmental context of cities in accordance with the overall aim of ROOTS. For the project, a selection of well-known sites will be studied, but I am also already in the process of launching a new cooperation project with Tunisian archaeologists in order to obtain first-hand data from the field.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am an archaeologist, who specialises on the Roman and late antique period in the Mediterranean region. In particular, I am interested in urban contexts of North Africa. For my PhD research, I investigated one specific sort of building of Roman cities: the monumental fountains. These monuments were connected to many different aspects of the cities such as hydraulic networks, sculptural decorations, and construction funding. I am specialized in urbanism and architecture, which means I work with plans and technical drawings, focusing on the alterations of buildings through time and their relation to changes of cultural and social practices, for instance, in houses or baths. I am increasingly interested in the daily life of common people. This topic gained interest among scholars a few decades ago, whereas the early steps of Mediterranean archaeology essentially looked for spectacular objects and buildings, which belonged to the wealthiest people. Instead, I like to look at dirt, noise, and crowded conditions, which of course intrinsically characterised life in ancient towns and cities.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?I was mostly trained in France, where I studied in Rennes and joined the Sorbonne (Paris IV) for my Master (2006) and my PhD (2014) in archaeology that was published this year. After completing my doctorate, I held teaching positions in Toulouse and Amiens in 2016 and 2017. During these years, I also moved a few times: I received research grants for periods of study at the École française de Rome, at Brown University, and at the DAI in Berlin. Moreover, I have additionally become more acquainted with Germany since 2017, when I joined the Meninx Archaeological Project for fieldwork in Tunisia led by colleagues of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In 2018, I was awarded a DAAD research grant, which I spent at the Free University of Berlin, where I continued to investigate the role of water in late antique cities. For over ten years, I have also been involved in different French fieldwork projects abroad, for example, in Haïdra (Tunisia), Labranda (Turkey), and Halaesa (Italy).

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?   
I like to go to the cinema and to the theatre – that for the cultural part! When I arrived at Kiel, I immediately acquired a bike as a good adopted German: I have already enjoyed biking around the city and along the seashore. And I have to say that I appreciate the landscape and even the weather, which both remind me of my native Normandy!

Nicolas Lamare is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Urban ROOTS” (link).
You can contact him at: nlamare@roots.uni-kiel.de
Photo by Paul Scheding

People in ROOTS: Tim Kerig

Tim Kerig

After meeting Chiara Thumiger (link), the “People in ROOTS” series continues with an interview of Tim Kerig, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

First of all, welcome to Kiel! Tim, you began to work a couple of months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Oh yes, of course. My research in ROOTS is focused on the archaeology of social inequality. Former US president Obama once identified social inequality as the “defining challenge of our time” – just think of the climate consequences to come, who is going to pay for them? I address similar questions for the archaeological past, where social inequality sometimes also must have been a “defining challenge”, at least for some parts of the population. I work on the origin and evolution of social differences between human beings. I am interested in both social differentiation that is the function of inequality for a society and in social inequality, asking for the political consequences of inequality in a society. Social inequality is really a ROOTS topic: social inequality has deeply shaped our world and it has very deep roots in our past. Moreover, it is a very useful perspective not only for societal but also for environmental questions – who profits from change and who pays for it? Or think about war, an extreme interesting example of inequality: some people are dying for others…

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
I am a European prehistorian working on temperate Europe. I follow a multi-proxy approach and try to develop indirect ways of measuring inequality by proxy, e.g., the time spent in crafting grave goods or square metres of living space in different households, sizes of military units, proximity to resources, and so on. Imagine a multi-dimensional space with a bundle of those proxies as axes: in such a space, one can neatly arrange all the different archaeological entities, cultures, sites, time slices, whatever… This should help us to explain where, when and why fundamental social changes occurred, e.g., the heritability of wealth and power. My theoretical background is in evolutionary theory as well as in analytical agency archaeology. I try to explain processes of the past to contribute critically to current discourses. To address social inequality, we also have to look at population numbers and productivity as well: first, one has to estimate the size of the cake – or of the total of the cast cakes of the Metal Ages – before we can look for the allocation of the share per capita or social groups.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
I studied in Tübingen and Copenhagen and completed my PhD on Neolithic archaeology in Cologne. I held positions as an exhibition curator, an editor of books and a journal, and a field director. I hold postdoc positions in Cologne and at University College London, and at both places I was also the principal investigator of my own projects. I taught at eight universities, completed my habilitation in Leipzig on Neolithic economic systems, and I have been a fellow of the IGZA think tank close to the German metal workers union and at a Käte-Hamburger Centre in Berlin. Moreover, I am currently also excavating a cave and a tell site in Iraqi Kurdistan (actually a project on social inequality and agricultural choices and practices).

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?    
I enjoy being boring. I spend my leisure time with friends and with my wife and kids – eating, discussing, sometimes singing, drinking wine (too little champagne!) and every now and then we do exactly the same, but at a skiing cabin in Norway, where my family lives.   
Tim Kerig is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “ROOTS of Inequalities” (link).
You can contact him at: tkerig@roots.uni-kiel.de

Johannes Müller, speaker of ROOTS, awarded with the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum award for the research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe”


The research on “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe,” coordinated by Johannes Müller, has been awarded the 2019 Shanghai Archaeological Forum (SAF) Research Award for the category “Research”.

The award will be given to Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, in December 2019 during the 4th Shanghai Archaeological Forum in Shanghai, China.

The Priority Program 1400 “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe”

The DFG Priority Program 1400 "Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation: On the origin and development of Neolithic large-scale buildings and the emergence of early complex societies in northern central Europe" began in July 2009. Coordinated by Johannes Müller, the project brings together 22 University Departments, Research Institutes and Heritage Management Offices in 16 sub-projects to investigate the emergence of monumental architecture in Neolithic and Chalcolithic contexts throughout different regions on the Northern European Plain.
The proceedings of the Kiel conference “Megaliths - Societies – Landscapes. Landscapes Early Monumentality And Social Differentiation In Neolithic Europe” (Eds.: Johannes Müller, Martin Hinz, Maria Wunderlich) appeared in 2019. This work  represents a milestone in understanding the complexity of this 5th and 4th Millennia BCE phenomenon.

For more information on the project click here

The Shanghai Archaeology Forum (SAF)

Shanghai Logo

Founded in 2013, the Shanghai Archeology Forum is a worldwide initiative committed to promoting research, harnessing the world's archaeological treasures, and protecting cultural heritage. The SAF Awards recognize individuals and organizations that excel in researching the human past through innovative, creative and excellent work, bringing forth new and relevant knowledge relevant to the present and future. The aim is to promote excellence and innovation in archaeological research, public awareness and appreciation for archeology, cultural heritage protection and international cooperation. The SAF Awards consist of two award categories, the Outstanding Field Discovery Award and Outstanding Research Findings. Nominations for the awards are held every two years and are judged by an international selection committee to the highest international standards of excellence and objectivity, with a maximum of 10 winners in each category. The project “Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe” belongs to the top ten project worldwide for 2019 for the Research Award Catergory.

For more information click here


People in ROOTS: Chiara Thumiger

Chiara Thumiger

This short interview with Chiara Thumiger, one of the new associate researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, inaugurates a new series of presentations titled “People in ROOTS”. These presentations will offer us the opportunity to get to know the researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In the next few months, we will present new and already established members of the cluster and the research that they are conducting.

People in ROOTS: An interview with Chiara Thumiger

First of all, welcome to Kiel! You began to work a couple of months ago in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. Can you tell us something about your planned research here?
Since August 2019, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to join the new research community of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS. In particular, I am a member of the subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link). My main contribution is concerned with the field of ancient medicine and science. In Kiel, I will conduct a project titled “Ancient Guts”, which investigates ancient views about nutritional processes in a broad cultural historical perspective, ranging from food consumption to digestion and excretion, from dietetics to eating disorders, from metaphorical ‘resources’ to the portrayal of human anatomy, and to economic aspects of eating as a fundamental aspect of human relations with the outside world.

More specifically, what are your main lines of research?
My interest in the history and narratives of human health and illness began earlier in my research. I have worked on ancient medical ideas about the relationship between the body and the soul, bodily and mental/spiritual health and mental disorder ever since. I find the way in which ancient thinkers framed the challenges of psychopathology and the possibility of ‘psychiatry’ as a caring practice still extremely valuable, often sophisticated and at times more insightful than our own. Whether one shares this view or not, the terms of discussion offered by ancient thinkers remain fundamental in the way we discuss these topics today. In many respects, this viewpoint still awaits exploration and recognition in current scholarship.
In addition, I have an interest in wider conceptions of life and health in the ancient world and their heritage – in particular, I have worked on animals and animal imagery in poetry as well as medicine.

Career life before ROOTS: what were the main stations and milestones of your career path so far?
After completing my undergraduate studies in Italy, I moved to London to pursue a PhD in Greek literature at King’s College London. There, I decided that I wanted to work on Euripides’ Bacchae, the last play of the youngest of the three great tragedians of the fifth century, precisely because madness and what it means to have a sound mind is such an important topic in this play. After my doctorate (2004) and its publication (2007), I taught and researched a few more years in London, where I continued to explore the topics of mental life and view of self, and to reflect on how ancient poets and writers choose to depict subjectivity, “mind” and mental suffering in their works. In 2010, I had a unique opportunity that changed my perspective in a fundamental way: I was offered a position within a research group on the history of ancient medicine titled “Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body”, at Humboldt University, Berlin (directed by Philip Van der Eijk). After this experience in Berlin, I was a Research Fellow at Warwick University (UK) between 2015 and 2019, where I held a Wellcome Trust grant in Medical Humanities. In the Department of Classics, I joined a group of experts in ancient Greek and Arabic medicine directed by Simon Swain. My research project was concerned with the history of an ancient disease, phrenitis, an elusive syndrome which was still part of Western medicine until as late as the 19th century.   

Life beyond ROOTS: what do you like to do beyond your research?
When I am not working or very much busy with my family and two daughters, which is most of the time, I love going for walks or jogging, travelling to new places and reading novels – as well as trying new cocktails!


Chiara Thumiger is a research associate with the ROOTS subcluster “Knowledge ROOTS” (link).
You can contact her at: cthumiger@roots.uni-kiel.de

The first retreat of ROOTS

On 18 and 19 December, the members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS gathered at Sandbjerg Gods, near the city of Sønderborg (Denmark), for the first retreat of the cluster.


As a year has now elapsed since the official start of ROOTS, the main intention of this retreat was to foster further dialogue and generate ideas in order to strengthen innovative interdisciplinary cooperation within the cluster. All members of the cluster, and in particular the PhD candidates and the research associates who started their work in the last few months, were invited to introduce themselves and their research projects. Further presentations illustrated the research agendas of the six subclusters, the reflective turn, the three platforms and the young academy, and talks presented the progress of the projects that already started in 2019 and the planned activities for 2020 and the following years. Behind the formal presentations, participants discussed possibilities for the realisation of pilot projects integrating different disciplinary approaches, for example, by combining the study of ancient literary sources and biological studies for investigations on the emergence and spread of diseases, or by analysing cultural material products with cutting-edge equipment of material science to understand how knowledge was produced and transmitted.
Additional activities offered the opportunity for further lively exchange in a relaxed atmosphere. These included an excursion along the western shore of the Als Sund Fjord, with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, and with a visit to the site Nydam Mose, where the Iron Age Nydam boat was found.


As we look forward to the coming years of exciting investigations on socio-environmental-cultural connectivity of past societies, we wish to you and your families a happy festivity season and a peaceful 2020!

ROOTS Seasons Greetings


First Retreat of the Subcluster Urban ROOTS

On 9 and 10 November 2019, the members of the subcluster Urban ROOTS gathered in Hodorf (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany) for the first retreat of the subcluster. The retreat was an opportunity to welcome the newcomers among the team as well as to obtain insights into each member’s research. 15 participants, including PIs, associate members, associate researchers and doctoral candidates, presented the results of this first year’s research and outlooks into the research agenda for 2020. Intense discussion addressed interdisciplinary research topics and how to unfold present and forthcoming results in the frame of scientific meetings planned until 2022. These will include two international conferences, which will convene in June and October 2020 in Kiel, to address topics related to “Mental concepts of the city in picture and text media during the premodern age” (link) and “Urban neighborhoods and communities” (preliminary title). In addition, the publication of the proceedings of the first international conference “Urban Water”, which was organized by the subcluster in October 2018 (link), is expected for the beginning of 2020.

Furthermore, the subcluster is working on the creation of a “Studienzertifikat Urbane Kulturen”, which aims to offer a specialization on urbanity, including various disciplines such as archaeology, history, geography, arts and literature, to students of Kiel University.

Pictures by: Nicola Chiarenza

A new logo for the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS!


The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS unveils its new logo!

ROOTS, the cluster of excellence on socio-environmental-cultural connectivity in past societies at Kiel University, announces the launch of its new logo. Following on the heels of the first cluster research activities, the ROOTS logo will help to expand the visibility of its integrated interdisciplinary research. The logo was conceptualised and created over the summer months by Tine Pape, the graphic designer of the ROOTS cluster, in coordination with the Communication Platform. After this intensive period of development, the ROOTS Executive Board passed the new ROOTS logo during its last meeting at the beginning of October.
As the educational researcher and speaker of the ROOTS Communication Platform, Ilka Parchmann explains: “the new ROOTS logo aims to offer a recognisable sign that encapsulates the intrinsic aims of the research conducted within the cluster, and in particular its relevance in the exploration of past socio-environmental dynamics to understand current challenges and crises”.
This translates into a vision for the logo that “emphasises connections between the past and the present as it is read as a reversed ‘R’, symbolising the cluster´s inquiries into the past, and the double ‘Os’ figuring as an infinity symbol that links past and present”, as Pape recounts.
The logo is one of the first tangible products realised to implement the overall ROOTS visual language. The cluster corporate design reflects the large cluster identity, the multifaceted disciplinary theoretical and practical approaches, as well as individual research expertise. Looking forward, the logo will represent all future activities and events conducted in the framework of ROOTS, accompanying publications, presentations, public outreach activities and other scientific endeavours.

A broadcast by Buten und Binnen, with contribution by Johannes Müller, speaker of ROOTS

Johannes Müller, professor for prehistoric archaeology at Kiel University and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, contributed to a TV broadcast by the Bremener “Buten und Binnen” station on the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments of Northern Europe.

You can watch the broadcast (only in German) here

ROOTS at German Unit Day / ROOTS beim Tag der Deutschen Einheit

German Unity Day – Cluster of Excellence ROOTS participates!

With a big festival including numerous events for all citizens, Kiel celebrates German Unity Day on 2-3 October.

The Cluster of Excellence “ROOTS -  Connectivity of Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies” together with the CRC 1266 is looking forward to welcoming you to their join-in activities. Exhibits will interactively present knowledge about current archaeological research projects conducted in the framework of the Johanna Mestorf Academy. For example, “The Diary of an Amber Trader” will illustrate how farming, animal husbandry, hunting and gathering affected the Neolithic population.

You can find us on 2-3 October between 11 am and 6 pm at Düsternbrooker Weg 2.
More information and the overall program of the event can be found here: https://mut-verbindet.de


Tag der deutschen Einheit – Cluster of Excellence ROOTS stellt sich vor!

Mit einem großen Fest für alle Bürgerinnen und Bürger feiert Kiel am 2. und 3. Oktober den Tag der deutschen Einheit. Auch der Excellenzcluster „ROOTS – Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten“ und der SFB 1266 freut sich auf viele Gäste bei ihren Mitmachaktionen an der Kiellinie.
Dazu werden Exponate gezeigt, die interaktiv Wissen vermitteln über aktuelle archäologische Forschungsprojekte, die im Rahmen der Johanna-Mestorf-Akademie durchgeführt wurden. So veranschaulicht „Das Tagebuch einer Bernsteinhändlerin“ beispielsweise, wie sich Ackerbau, Viehzucht, Jagen und Sammeln auf die jungsteinzeitliche Bevölkerung ausgewirkt haben.
Sie finden uns am 2. und 3. Oktober in Düsternbrooker Weg 2 | all-day
Mehr Infos und das gesamte Programm der Veranstaltung können Sie hier finden: https://mut-verbindet.de


Archaeology Teamwork at the Night of Science 2019

Archaeology beyond Indiana Jones and Lara Croft was the main theme of the actions of members of the Johanna Mestorf Academy, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology and the Institute for Classical Studies, who jointly participated in the Schleswig-Holstein “Night of Science 2019”. The events pertaining to archaeological sciences were held in Preetz.

night of science 2019

Visitors were offered the opportunity to both shape and produce their own pottery vessels with Neolithic pots as a basis and to practice drawing prehistoric potsherds. The interactive activities dealing with pollen analysis and crop plant identification as well as a 3D ceramic puzzle also attracted the attention of the visitors. Furthermore, three talks and a poster exhibition were presented on the topic “Formation of the environment – formation of social interaction”. The themes ranged from ancient house renovations in Pompeii to environmental influences and from prehistoric gender roles to the history of crops in prehistoric periods. The positive feedback of the visitors motivates us to also participate in the Night of Science in 2020.


Workshop “Quantifying Social Inequalities – New Proxies, New Methods. Possibilities and Limitations to Determine Social Inequalities in Archaeological Contexts”

The Workshop “Quantifying Social Inequalities – New Proxies, New Methods. Possibilities and Limitations to Determine Social Inequalities in Archaeological Contexts”, organized by Ralph Großmann for the Subcluster ROOTS of Inequalities, took place on October 7 and 8 2019 at the Kiel University.

In the framework of this workshop, invited speakers from Kiel, Germany, Europe and the USA illustrated the range of different approaches for the study of social inequalities in past societies. Case studies included investigations on the Copper Age cemetery of Durankulak (Arne Windler, Bochum) and the Middle Bronze Age urn cemetery of Dunaújváros-Duna-dűlő (Julian Laabs, Bern/Switzerland) with reconstructions based on the quantification of grave goods and the application of the so-called Gini Index. Other contributions presented multi-proxy analyses that combine bio-anthropological and archaeological data. These included studies on the southwest German Iron Age burial mound Magdalenenbergle (Ralph Großmann, Kiel), investigations on transformation processes in the Neolithic/Copper Age on the Iberian Peninsula (Marta Cintas Peña, Seville/Spain) and studies on the North Caucasian Bronze Age cemetery Kudachurt 14 (Katharina Fuchs, Kiel). Furthermore, Adrian Chase and Timothy J. Dennehy (both Tempe, Arizona/USA) presented results of quantified settlement differences and economic transformation processes of the Maya in Belize, Central America. Intense discussions followed contributions that, for example, linked life expectancy with economic prosperity (Nils Müller Scheeßel, Kiel), contrasted social inequality with the concept of diversity (Penny Bickle, York/UK), and showed alternative concepts to conventional, economically based approaches to inequality (Vesa Arponen, Kiel).

The workshop demonstrated the relevance of multiple proxy approaches as well as the importance of including not only economically based concepts but also alternative models that consider the “quality of life” in order to quantify social inequality.


“Who were the first farmers?” – BBC CrowdScience with contribution by Cheryl Makarewicz

Cheryl Makarewicz, professor for archaeozoology and stable isotope science at Kiel University and principal investigator of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, contributed to the latest BBC World Service CrowdScience series broadcast on the world's first farmers.
You can listen to the BBC broadcast “Who were the first farmers?” here

Cluster of Excellence ROOTS in Moscow, Russia

ROOTS in MoscowNikolaj Andreevich Makarov, president of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, guides the participants through an archaeological excavation conducted in the Grand Kremlin Public Garden, Moscow. The important role of archaeology in the creation of historical narratives became clearer during this conference excursion. Photo by: Johannes Müller

Future perspectives of archaeology were discussed at the international conference “Archaeology of the 21st Century”, which took place on 26–28 June 2019 in Moscow, Russia. The ROOTS cooperation partners of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute jointly organized this exchange of views that attracted participants from China, Russia and other regions of Europe. Although key actors from Latin America, Africa, Oceania and further Asian countries were certainly missing, intense and productive discussions took place on the future development of archaeology, especially regarding its political role in recent discourses. Johannes Müller, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, presented ‘Social, Environmental and Cultural Connectivities in Past Societies’ as a transdisciplinary initiative for innovative research perspectives and Claus von Carnap Bornheim, speaker of the Subcluster ROOTS of Conflict, illustrated research outlooks for the Baltic regions in connection with the world cultural heritage site of Hedeby.

ROOTS in Moscow
Sabine Reinhold (DAI-Referent for Russian Archaeology), Johannes Müller (ROOTS speaker), Svend Hansen (Director of the DAI Eurasia department), Nikolaj Andreevich Makarov (President of the Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Felipe Criado-Boado (President of the European Association of Archaeologists) happily gathered during a conference break.

Archaeology in Kiel ranks among the best worldwide

Sara Jagiolla
A Kiel archaeology excavation near Sultana, Romania. The current "QS World University Ranking by Subject" ranks the subject of archaeology at Kiel Christian Albrechts University among the top 15 worldwide. (Photo: Sara Jagiolla, Kiel University)

27 June 2023 / Kiel. In the influential QS World University Ranking, Kiel University (CAU) is among the top 15 for the first time in the field of archaeology.
The QS World University Ranking is one of the most widely used and therefore most influential rankings of academic institutions worldwide. In the recently published 2023 report, Kiel University now ranks 14th in the field of archaeology, a top global position.

“This is a huge success and owes much to the upswing in archaeological research and training, in particular through the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence and the CRC 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation – Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’,” states Johannes Müller, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at Kiel University and speaker of the two large-scale research projects with a strong interdisciplinary focus.

This also shows the fruits of the Excellence Initiative, Müller continues: “Originally, the initiative was designed to make German universities internationally competitive. In the field of archaeology, this has obviously been successful at Kiel University.”

Archaeology in Kiel is constantly improving

The annually published subject evaluations of the QS World University Rankings include, among other things, the publication performance of the scientists working in the subject. Further criteria also consider the reputation among academics, among employers and renownedness among student applicants. For this purpose, surveys of more than 200,000 people worldwide are evaluated.

Archaeology at Kiel University has continuously improved in the subject evaluations of the QS World University Rankings in recent years. “We have successfully internationalised archaeological research from Kiel. This and the expansion of natural science archaeology has certainly contributed to this trend and current success,” says Müller.

Research around the globe

Thus, Kiel archaeology is not only active in Germany, but almost around the globe in order to better understand fundamental processes of human history and their relationship to the environment. Together with foreign partner institutions, it conducts projects in Scandinavia, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Anatolia, India, South Africa, Iran and on the Iberian Peninsula, among other places.

“The development of Kiel archaeology in the QS Ranking shows that the funds from the Excellence Strategy have brought about a sustainable leap in quality here. This is a great basis for the ROOTS Excellence Cluster application for a second funding phase, which we support to the best of our ability as a university,” emphasises Professor Simone Fulda, President of Kiel University.

International attention for the development in Kiel

"Kiel archaeology has always been respected by colleagues abroad. But the recent development of the subject area in Kiel is remarkable and attracts multiple international attention. Kiel archaeology now offers great technical infrastructures and increasingly multidisciplinary research involving several other disciplines in the natural sciences, humanities, and life sciences", says Professor Helle Vandkilde from Aarhus University and chair of the ROOTS Scientific Advisory Board.

Karen Prien, Minister of General Education and Vocational Training, Science, Research and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein, adds: “Schleswig-Holstein is a high-performance science location. This is also especially true for archaeology, which is recognised at the highest international level, as the current ranking proves. Looking into the past is an important basis for a better understanding of current processes. I am pleased that archaeology in Kiel is conducting such excellent science. Research breakthroughs, such as the discovery of the Rungholt church, awaken new enthusiasm for this subject, even among us in the true north.”

Ground-breaking work on ancient DNA and archaeological geophysics

In addition to the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS – Social, Cultural and Environmental Change in Past Societies’ and the Collaborative Research Center 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation – Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies’, archaeology in Kiel is involved in many other externally funded projects, for example, as the applicants of three prestigious ERC grants approved by the European Research Council.

Institutionally, the “Archaeology” department in Kiel primarily includes the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology and the Classical Archaeology department of the Institute for Classical Archaeology. As a special feature, archaeology in Kiel is institutionally linked to both the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

Pioneering research on ancient DNA (aDNA) at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Archaeological Geophysics of Kiel University is particularly ground-breaking. However, other important archaeological disciplines, such as Near Eastern Archaeology or Egyptology, which are naturally part of archaeology in other places, have not yet been represented in Kiel.

“The excellent slot in the ranking is therefore all the more gratifying. Archaeology is offered in all its breadth at all the other universities listed in the top 50,” emphasises Professor Müller.

Sebastian Schultrich
Excavation of 7000 year old skeletons in Vráble (Slovakia). Scientific examinations of the bones provide information on the diet, state of health and relationship of the people of that time. (Photo: Sebastian Schultrich)

Dirk Bienen-Scholt
Geomagnetic prospection in the North Frisian Wadden Sea. Thanks to recent developments in geophysical prospection methods, the cultural landscape submerged in storm surges can be reconstructed in a previously unattainable level of detail. (Photo: Dirk Bienen-Scholt)

Tobias Busen
Modern prospection methods also provide new insights into the past at well-known archaeological sites. Here, a georadar (Ground Penetrating Radar, GPR) is used for investigations at the Insula del Citarista in Pompeii. (Photo: Tobias Busen)

Sara Jagiolla
Archaeological research in Kiel has a very international focus. Here, a team in a yurt processes finds from an excavation in the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia. (Photo: Sara Jagiolla, Kiel University)


Further information:
Excellence Cluster ROOTS

Collaborative Research Center 1266

Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University

Classical Archaeology, Kiel University

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: Archaeology

NDR Interview with Henny Piezonka

NDR Interview with Henny Piezonka, Junior Professor for Ethnoarcheology at Kiel University and principal investigator of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS.

You find the interview and further information here.

ROOTS International Symposium (June 17-18, 2019)

The ROOTS International Symposium took place on Monday and Tuesday June 17 and 18 in the Audimax of Kiel University. Invited speakers from across Europe and South America gathered in Kiel to share ideas and open new research perspectives on the study of socio, cultural and environmental connectivity in past societies.

Talks included the reconstruction of the dynamics of social inequality in prehistoric societies, the production and transfer of knowledge, the understanding of agency and perception in ancient and medieval urban contexts, the investigation of the emergence of conflicts and their resolution in the Baltic Region during the late Iron Age and Early Medieval Period. Moreover, presenters discussed methodological advances for the study on human-environmental-interdependencies in the area of dendro-archaeology, as well as for computational biological analysis of various organic materials from prehistorical and historical contexts. The speaker of ROOTS, Prof. Dr. Johannes Muller, noted that the wide range of topics covered at the symposium brought innovative perspectives to existing research initiatives and were of great value to advancing the interdisciplinary emphasis of the cluster. The event was an important part of the initial phase of the seven-year cluster.

The program of the Symposium is available here

Text: Andrea Ricci
Photos: Tine Pape

2018 JMA Plenary Meeting and first ROOTS PIs Meeting (October 22, 2018)

On October 22nd, the 2018 Johanna-Mestorf-Academy Plenary Meeting took place with many members in attendance.

The meeting included updates from the speakers and the representatives on the numerous projects and initiatives that took place over the past year in the frame of the JMA. New members also introduced themselves and their research. Above all, this meeting was an opportunity to celebrate the success of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS!

Following the JMA Plenary Meeting, the first ROOTS PIs Meeting kicked-off seven years of interdisciplinary advanced research on how social, environmental, and cultural processes have substantially shaped past human development: the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS is now starting its activities!

01: Group Photo of the JMA Members (Photo: JMA ׀ Carsten Reckweg)

02: Group photo of the ROOTS PIs (Photo: JMA ׀ Carsten Reckweg)

The 2021 Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) at Kiel University

Kiel Overview EAA

The 2021 Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA; link), the largest archaeological congress in Europe, took place in Kiel from September 6 through September 11. The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS together with the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 (link) organised this meeting under the umbrella of the Johanna Mestorf Academy (link) at Kiel University. 

More than 2500 participants from 66 countries held presentations on the topic of “Widening Horizons”. Members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS organized seven sessions and presented more than 30 papers on results of their investigations on past socio-environmental-cultural connectivity. 

Within this setting, EAA President, Prof. Dr. Felipe Criado-Boado, pointed out that: “Kiel, as the venue for the EAA Annual Meeting 2021, symbolises the widening of horizons through the integration of natural and life sciences into archaeology, through the inclusion of the most diverse horizons between East, West, North and South, and through the development of new research centres that build on proven examples.” Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Karin Prien, described the central position that archaeology assumes in the research priorities of Schleswig-Holstein, and University President, Simone Fulda, emphasised the crucial role that archaeology plays in the internationalisation strategy of Kiel University. Climate change was also a crucial topic during the Annual Meeting of the EAA, leading to the adoption of a European “Kiel EAA Declaration” (link). 

You can view the opening ceremony of the Kiel Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists here, on the ROOTS Youtube Channel here

You can visit the EAA Kiel homepage at this link

Grünes Licht für ROOTS! (October 2, 2018)

Die Freude bei den Kieler Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern ist riesig. Ihr Antrag hat alle Hürden genommen und wurde am 27. September von der gemeinsamen Kommission zur Förderung eines Exzellenzclusters im Rahmen der sogenannten Exzellenzstrategie des Bundes und der Länder bewilligt. Von 1. Januar an bis (mindestens) Dezember 2025 werden die Wissenschaftler aus 15 CAU Instituten an sechs Fakultäten der Universität Kiel nun unter dem Label „ROOTS“ die „Wurzeln der Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten“ erforschen.

„Damit etablieren wir in Kiel einen Leuchtturm für die Erforschung prähistorischer, antiker und vormoderner Gesellschaften. Unser Profil breit gefächerter Interdisziplinarität mit starker Ausrichtung an der Schnittstelle von Kultur-zu Natur- und Lebenswissenschaften ist einzigartig und wurde von dem internationalen Expertengremium als zukunftsweisend bewertet“ freut sich Johannes Müller. Den prähistorischen Archäologen und Sprecher des neu bewilligten Clusters hatte die gute Nachricht um 2 Uhr morgens lokaler Zeit in Kyoto ereilt. Wichtiger ROOTS-Partner ist das Deutsche Archäologische Institut (DAI).

Drei Jahre Vorbereitungszeit hat es gekostet, die konzeptionellen Ideen für den Cluster in zahlreichen Diskussions-Runden zu entwickeln, interdisziplinär abzustimmen, auf ihre Machbarkeit zu überprüfen, eine Antragsskizze zu formulieren, und schließlich nach deren positiver Vorbegutachtung vor einem Jahr einen Vollantrag auszuarbeiten, der eine Forschungsagenda für die kommenden sieben Jahre umreißt. Zurückgreifen konnten die Antragsteller dabei auf ihre bisherige Erfahrungen in der Graduiertenschule „Human Development in Landscapes“ (GSHDL), im Rahmen der vorausgehenden Exzellenzinitiative seit 2007 bis Ende diesen Jahres gefördert, und deren schon vorhandene Strukturen. „Die großartige Unterstützung der Universität sowie des Landes schon im Vorfeld haben enorm zu unserem jetzigen Erfolg beigetragen“ sagt Annette Haug, Klassische Archäologin und stellvertretende Sprecherin des Clusters. Auch strukturell ist der Cluster auf die kommenden Herausforderungen gut vorbereitet. „Den Rahmen dafür bietet die Johanna-Mestorf-Akademie, eine gemeinsame Einrichtung der Kieler Uni zur Entwicklung ihres profilbildenden Schwerpunktes „Sozialer, Umwelts- und Kulturwandel“ (SECC)“, äußert sich Lutz Käppel, Gräzist und Sprecher von SECC zuversichtlich.

Die Mühen haben sich gelohnt: Geforscht werden kann nun mit verbesserter personeller und infrastruktureller Ausstattung. Unter anderem sollen mehrere Professuren neu eingerichtet und mit international herausragenden Experten besetzt werden. „Ein Plattformkonzept zur infrastrukturellen Entwicklung sieht z. B. den Erwerb eines speziellen GC-C-IR-Massenspektrometers vor, das die Analyse der Isotopenzusammmensetzung von Aminosäuren ermöglicht und so Aufschluss über die Ernährungsweisen früherer Gesellschaften  geben wird“, erläutert Wolfgang Rabbel, Geophysiker und ebenfalls stellvertretender Sprecher des Clusters.

„Schon jetzt können wir sagen“, so Lutz Kipp, Präsident der Kieler Universität, „dass der ROOTS-Cluster die Attraktivität und internationale Sichtbarkeit der Kieler Uni weiter steigern wird“. Dass vom neuen Cluster „spannende Ergebnisse zu gesellschaftlich hoch relevanten Themen zu erwarten sind, die sich auch hervorragend für den Wissenstransfer an Schüler und an die allgemeine Öffentlichkeit eignen“ ergänzt Ilka Parchmann, Fachdidakterin am IPN und Vizepräsidentin der Kieler Universität mit Ressort „Lehramt, Wissenschaftskommunikation und Weiterbildung“.

01: Seebohrung für Paläoumweltforschung und Rekonstruktion der Mensch-Umwelt-Interaktion, Vouliagmeni, Griechenland (Foto: Ingmar Unkel)

02: Ethnoarchäologische Studien in Sibirien, Russland (Foto: Christoph Engel)

03: Ausgrabungssituation in Vráble, Slowakei (Foto: Martin Furholt)

Excellence Cluster ROOTS Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity approved! (October 1, 2018)

On September 27th 2018, funding decisions have been made in Germany’s Excellence Strategy: The Excellence Commission, consisting of the members of the international Committee of Experts and the research ministers of the federal and state governments, approved 57 Clusters of Excellence to be funded from among the 88 proposed projects.

Among the successful cluster proposal is ROOTS! This new cluster of excellence will start on January 1st 2019 and until end of 2025 will explore how social, environmental, and cultural processes have substantially shaped past human development. The cluster is composed by an interdisciplinary network of 15 participating institutes and six faculties at Kiel University and external research institutes, including the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), the State Museum Schleswig-Holstein in Gottorf (ALM), the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön.


01: Excavation in Mang de Bargen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (Photo by: Jutta Kneisel)

02: Coring activities for palaeoenvironmental investigation and human-environmental reconstruction, Pellworm, Schleswig-Holstein (Photo by: Ingmar Unkel)

03: Group photo of ROOTS presenters together with Schleswig-Holstein Minister-President Daniel Günther und Prof. Dr. Friederike Fless (DAI) in Cologne after the DFG appraisal on May 30th 2018

04: ROOTS structure with ROOTS research areas (subclusters), supporting platforms, and involved disciplines





Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions