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


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