Other Publications

Between Plague and Typhoid Fever – the Hanseatic City of Lübeck in the 14th Century

Ancient DNA A look into the late medieval mass burial site at the Hospital of the Holy Ghost in the city of Lübeck (photo: Dirk Rieger, Hansestadt Lübeck).

Research team uses ancient DNA to gain insight into the development and history of epidemics in historical Lübeck

A team of researchers at Kiel University (Christian-Albrechts-Universität, CAU), Germany, gained insights into the development and history of epidemics in historical Lübeck by means of ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis.

In the Late Middle Ages, urban Europe often fell victim to rampant epidemics. Local disease outbreaks as well as global pandemics were increasingly described in historical sources. Perhaps the most notorious epidemic in human history was the plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which spread throughout Europe's major cities between 1346 and 1353 CE. It became known as the "Black Death". Two-thirds of the European population succumbed to the disease. Thus, the plague has become the eponym for the expression "pestis" or "pestilentiae", which was often used in historical records to describe disastrous epidemics of unknown cause. Also Lübeck was struck by at least six "pestilences" in the 14th century alone, as recorded in the city chronicles. To date, there is no evidence of the pathogens responsible for these diseases.

During construction work at the Holy-Ghost-Hospital (Heiligen-Geist-Hospital) in Lübeck in the early 1990s, several mass burials were discovered next to the outer hospital walls. Scattered over various pits of different sizes, a total of more than 800 skeletons of all sexes and ages were recovered from the site. The pits could be dated to the second half of the 14th century using the radiocarbon dating technique. The large number of people who had died within a short period of time without signs of violence suggested an infectious disease as the cause of death.

Salmonella identified as the trigger

An interdisciplinary team led by Prof. Ben Krause-Kyora from the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at CAU has been investigating the cause of death for the people in the mass graves. For this purpose, the aDNA from a total of 92 skeletons was isolated, sequenced and analyzed. "Our initial aim was to determine whether it is at all possible to use aDNA analyses to identify the pathogen responsible for this unknown epidemic," emphasizes Prof. Almut Nebel, also affiliated with the IKMB. "Being able to successfully demonstrate this is an important methodological milestone." The team was able to detect the bacterial pathogen Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica Paratyphi C in the human remains from two pits. "From the city chronicles we know that for the year 1367 CE an unknown "pestilentia" is recorded, which claimed many lives among all social strata, but was confined to Lübeck only", remarks Prof. Gerhard Fouquet from the Historical Seminar at Kiel University. This finding provided the researchers with the earliest evidence to date of an epidemic caused by Salmonella.

S. Paratyphi C is an invasive Salmonella species. The causative agent spreads rapidly and is transmitted to the human host via the consumption of contaminated water or food. Once contracted, the disease manifests itself as continued high fever, abdominal pain and nausea, at times also diarrhea. Without medical treatment, the disease course can be fatal.

The molecular biologists from Kiel further succeeded in fully reconstructing three of the S. Paratyphi C genomes. "Our results indicate a close relationship among the Paratyphi C strains in the Middle Ages," explains first author Magdalena Haller. It can be assumed that the pathogen has spread along commercial routes of the time, including those of the Hanseatic League. The analyses thus provide insights into the origin and evolution of the bacterium S. paratyphi, about which little is yet known. "Paratyphi C is virtually absent from Europe today. However, our results suggest that the pathogen was fairly common in the past. Recurrent outbreaks of paratyphoid fever must have severely affected people back then," explains Haller.

The Lübeck mass burial site represents a unique scientific resource for the study of past epidemics. "Through the close cooperation of molecular biology, history and archaeology, we have not only opened a door to the Middle Ages, but also built a bridge to our Corona era", emphasizes Dr. Dirk Rieger, head of the department of archaeology of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck.

The results of the study were recently published in the international journal iScience. The study was supported by the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 "Scales of Transformation“, the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, and research funding from the CAU Medical Faculty.
Original publication:

Haller, M., Callan, K., Susat, J., Flux, A., Immel, A., Franke, A., Herbig, A., Krause, J., Kupczok, A., Fouquet, G., Hummel, S., Rieger, D., Nebel, A., Krause-Kyora, B. (2021) Mass burial genomics reveals outbreak of enteric paratyphoid fever in the Late Medieval trade city Lübeck. iScience 24, 102419.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102419

Ancient DNA
The study conducted at Kiel University identifies the earliest evidence to date of an epidemic caused by Salmonella. (Figure: Carina Lange, Kiel University).

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Ben Krause-Kyora
Institut für Klinische Molekularbiologie
Kiel University
 +49 (0)431 500 15142
 b.krause-kyora@ikmb.uni-kiel.de

Pressekontakt:
Angelika Hoffmann
Research focus officer SECC/JMA

ahoffmann@roots.uni-kiel.de
+49 (0)431/880-5924 to the website

For German version click here

Societies in balance

Members of ROOTS publish a study on the social significance of stone monuments in Northeast India

MegalithsMegaliths line the paths from the villages to the fields in Nagaland, commemorating their builders. (Photo: Maria Wunderlich)

The construction of stone monuments, or megaliths, is a tradition in Nagaland, Northeast India, which, although no longer continued today, is still deeply embedded in the collective memory of the communities concerned. Megalithic construction has been abandoned in large areas of Northeast India in the course of the severe transformation processes that have taken place within the last 100 years. It can now only be comprehensively reconstructed through the memories of older village members, as well as the stones themselves. Thus, the study represents an important reference point for a chain reaction in which transformative impulses led to the transformation of further interwoven social aspects. In the course of ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in cooperation with the University of Nagaland in 2016 and 2018, it was possible to visit Angami and Chakhesang-Naga villages and document the memories there of the construction of megalithic structures, as well as the Feasts of Merit, i.e. complex merit festivals, in their social embeddedness.
The recently published article "Societies in Balance: Monumentality and feasting activities among southern Naga communities, Northeast India" presents the manifold social, economic and political aspects of megalithic building traditions in a recent context. It showed the intertwining of complex but permeable social hierarchies, the attainment of social prestige through feasting activities, the importance of solidarity and cooperation, and megalithic construction. The article thus makes an important contribution to a holistic and differentiated understanding of possible socio-political meanings of megalithic monuments. This opens up points of departure not only for further ethnoarchaeological studies, but also for an expansion and diversification of the interpretation of prehistoric megalithic monuments and their significance within phases of social transformation.

Click here for the press release on the CAU Newsportal.

The published results have already been picked up by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Original publication

Wunderlich M., Jamir T., Müller J., Rassman K., Vasa D. (2021) Societies in balance: Monumentality and feasting activities among southern Naga communities, Northeast India. PLOS ONE 16(3): e0246966.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246966

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0246966

MegalithsSouthern Nagaland (northeast India) is characterized by mountains and agricultural terraces. The tall standing stones also dominate the landscape. (Photo: Maria Wunderlich)

MegalithsThe research trip and documentation of the monuments took place in close cooperation with colleagues from the University of Nagaland. (Photo: Johannes Müller)

MegalithsThe three-dimensional modeling of the monuments using methods incorporating Structure from Motion (SfM) allows a realistic and vivid representation of the stones. (Photo: Sara Jagiolla)

Rare Diseases in the Bronze Age

A new study examines the phenomenon of Rare Diseases in ancient societies

rare diseases
The excavated grave of the male skeleton from the North Caucasus foothills. A healed fracture of the right thigh bone is visible.
© B. Atabiev, Institut für die Archäologie des Kaukasus, Naltschik

Rare diseases are a special field in medical-pharmaceutical research and treatment today. "Rare" means that no more than five in 10,000 people suffer from a particular disease. Patients affected by a rare disorder are often severely restricted, both physically and in their social life, and require a high level of social and medical care.

But what do we know about Rare Diseases in the past, so-called Ancient Rare Diseases, and above all how can we define and diagnose them in skeletal human remains?
This question was investigated by Dr Katharina Fuchs who works as physical anthropologist at the the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University. Using the disease history of a male individual from the North Caucasus Bronze Age (ca. 2200 to 1650 BC), she came to the conclusion that the criteria for Rare Diseases used today cannot simply be transferred to the past. The recently published study in the International Journal of Paleopathology shows that not only the diagnosis of Rare Diseases and the calculation of incidences and prevalence, i.e. frequency, are challenging for the researchers. Individual impairment and the degree of social integration and support are also difficult to reconstruct.

There are many conclusions that the anthropologist K. Fuchs can draw from the skeleton of the man from the Caucasus that she examined as part of the study: Since his youth, he suffered from a rare hip disorder, the Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease, and he had a limping gait due to this inwards twisted leg. Moreover, as an adult he survived severe fractures of his skull and thigh. Apart from this, the wear patterns of his teeth show that he used them as tools during working processes, as was customary. Also, from the objects that he was buried with can be inferred that he did not hold a particularly high social position.
"Taken together, the results show that this man was important to society. The fractures he endured required a high level of care. He probably survived his injuries because his fellow human beings took care of him. This gives us an idea of how people in the North Caucasus treated each other 4,000 years ago and how they treated someone who was physically limited for most of his life", Fuchs explains. Such considerations go beyond the topic of Ancient Rare Diseases, but illustrate the social dimension of their investigation.

Another result of the study is that the criterion of "rarity" in relation to Ancient Rare Diseases cannot be defined by rigid thresholds. The fact that a disease is rare today does not necessarily mean that it was rare in the past. Depending on the causes for the emergence of a disease, the aetiology, the occurrence, disappearance and, most interestingly, the change from a rare to a common disease pattern are subject to social and human ecological dynamics. This is a finding of modern medicine, which identifies lifestyle and external influences as important components.

Research into Rare Diseases of the past is therefore also relevant for our understanding of today’s diseases. One of the co-authors of the study, Dr Julia Gresky from the German Archaeological Institute, stresses: "Since its foundation in 2019, the research of the ‘Ancient Rare Diseases’ workgroup also has the task to reach people who are affected today. We hope to contribute to public awareness by pointing out that humankind has always been confronted with Rare Diseases – but also that being affected does not have to mean social isolation".

The study was supported by the Cluster of Excellence ‘ROOTS’ and the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Scales of Transformation’ at Kiel University. Both projects focus on the research of human environmental interactions in past times and societies.  

You can find the German version of this news here

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Original publication:

Fuchs, K., Biaslan, A., Witzmann, F., Gresky, J., Towards a definition of Ancient Rare Diseases (ARD): Presenting a complex case of probable Legg-Calv´e-Perthes Disease from the North Caucasian Bronze Age (2200-1650 cal BCE). International Journal of Paleopathology 32 (2021) 61-73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2020.11.004

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Scientific contact:
Dr. rer. nat. Katharina Fuchs
Institut für Klinische Molekularbiologie
k.fuchs@ikmb.uni-kiel.de

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

 

In addition, you can find a video on this topic here


rare diseases
Right and left femoral bones of the male individual from the North Caucasus. The bones exhibit pathological changes examined in the study.
© Katharina Fuchs, Institut für Klinische Molekularbiologie

rare diseases
The North Caucasus Mountain Range in what is today the Kabardino-Balkaria region. Bronze Age societies inhabited these landscapes.
© Katharina Fuchs, Institut für Klinische Molekularbiologie

Why did the European oyster disappear from the North Sea?

Oyster
Historical oyster shells from the collection at the Zoological Museum in Kiel, created between 1868 and 1885 by the natural scientist Karl August Möbius (© Jutta Drabek-Hasselmann, Zoologisches Museum, Uni Kiel).

For the first time, an interdisciplinary research team decodes the historical genetic diversity of the European oyster with the aid of museum collections.

The European oyster was fished in abundance and eaten with gusto and therefore a major economic factor for the northern German region in the 19th century. In 1868, with the aim of boosting its population in the shallow coastal waters, the Prussian government commissioned a detailed study of the mollusc species led by Karl August Möbius, Professor of Zoology in Kiel. For this purpose, Möbius created an extensive collection of oyster shells, which contained around a thousand specimens from the North Sea, from along the Atlantic coast and from the Mediterranean. With his investigations into how oysters develop in mutual dependence on other animals and plants in their habitat, Möbius became a founding father of modern ecology.

The new study emphasizes the importance of Möbius’ oyster collection for current biodiversity research. “The carefully documented collection offers unique research material, especially for modern scientific methods,” stressed Dr Dirk Brandis, Director of the Zoological Museum and lecturer at Kiel University. It was one of the first museums ever to examine historical collections with regard to their genetic information. "Thanks to proper storage, the extensive material and the experience of the IKMB, with whom we collaborated on the genetic analysis, we were able to trace the relationships of the European oyster," says marine biologist Sarah Hayer, first author of the study and a doctoral student at Brandis at the Zoological Museum.

Surprising regional differences in genetic material

“These type of historical sequencing involves a lot of effort because a large amount of the historical DNA decomposes over the years. With these oyster shells, however, we were able to achieve amazingly good results,” said Professor Ben Krause-Kyora, Director of the Ancient DNA Laboratory at the IKMB. The research team was surprised at how different the oysters from individual regions were genetically. “Because normally the sea current in coastal regions enables exchange between populations and so their genetic structure ought to be relatively similar,” said marine population geneticist Dr Christine Ewers-Saucedo from the Zoological Museum, who is leading the study.

According to one finding from the study, the oyster specimens from the Wadden Sea were genetically significantly different from those in other areas. The research team regarded this as an indication of how well the European oyster adapted over the course of time to the extreme living conditions in the Wadden Sea with its heavily fluctuating water levels, temperatures and salt contents. But this appears to have been the cause of its downfall, too, they assume. It seems it was no longer able to adapt flexibly to climatic changes and novel pathogens and finally died out in the Wadden Sea, accelerated by the heavy overfishing in the 1930s. “This also explains why later attempts at establishing a population there from other areas of Europe were not successful – these oysters did not have the right genetic requirements,” said Ewers-Saucedo.

Taking genetic factors into consideration in current re-establishment projects

Möbius' oyster collection not only enables extraordinary insight into the past, but also provides new findings for current re-establishment projects. “Oyster beds offer unique habitats and they secure loose sediment or slow the current,” said Ewers-Saucedo, highlighting the importance of oysters for marine ecosystems. The research team recommends that if the European oyster is to be re-established in the Wadden Sea, genetic factors need to be considered too.

“With the decoding of the genetic diversity of the European oyster, this study also demonstrates the unique scientific value of the museum’s natural history collections,” said Brandis. He and the team at the Zoological Museum are currently preparing an exhibition to show how museums are conducting research with the aid of their collections. This will also include examples from Möbius’ oyster collection.

Oyster
In the clean room at the IKMB, Sarah Hayer, a PhD student in marine biology, prepares oyster shells up to 150 years old for genetic analysis (© Ben Krause-Kyora).

Oyster
Unterwater image oysters bed (© Stephane Pouvreau; Ifremer
. https://doi.org/10.24351/48842)

The study was supported by the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS “Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies” from Kiel, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It was developed within the framework of the research project “Historical collections of marine organisms – a window into the beginnings of Global Change in the North and Baltic Seas”, which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Alongside Kiel University’s Zoological Museum and the Ancient DNA Laboratory, Senckenberg – Leibniz Institution for Biodiversity and Earth System Research (SGN), the German Primate Center and the Verbund der deutschen Nord- und Ostseesammlungen (NORe e.V.) (association of German North Sea and Baltic Sea collections) are also involved in the joint project.

Original publication:

Hayer, S., Brandis, D., Immel, A., Susat, J., Montserrat Torres-Oliva, M., Ewers-Saucedo, C., Krause-Kyora, Ben  et al. Phylogeography in an “oyster” shell provides first insights into the genetic structure of an extinct Ostrea edulis population. Sci Rep11, 2307 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82020-x

Read more:
Recently, the Kiel researchers ruled out the American slipper snail as the cause of the oyster mortality: https://www.uni-kiel.de/en/university/details/news/365-oyster-deaths

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Scientific Contact:
PD Dr. Dirk Brandis brandis@zoolmuseum.uni-kiel.de

You can find the german version of this press release here

Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception / Chiara Thumiger (ed.)

ThumigerThis new volume, edited by Chiara Thumiger, a ROOTS research associate in the subcluster Knowledge ROOTS (link), aims at exploring the ancient roots of ‘holistic’ approaches in the specific field of medicine and the life sciences, without overlooking larger theoretical implications of these discussions. The project expands the perspective and includes larger cultural discussions and, in a comparative spirit, reaches out to some examples beyond Graeco-Roman medical cultures. As such, it constitutes a fundamental contribution to the history of medicine, the philosophy of medicine, cultural studies, and ancient studies more generally. The wide-ranging selection of chapters offers a comprehensive view encompassing an exciting new field: the interrogation of ancient sources in the light of modern concepts in the philosophy of medicine, as a justification of the claim for their enduring relevance as an object of study as well as a means to enable a more adequate contextualisation of modern debates within a long historical process.

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Thumiger, Chiara (ed.): Holism in Ancient Medicine and its Reception. Brill (2021), 448 pages.
The book can be viewed here (Brill).

Zwischen den Welten / Jens Schneeweiß

Zwischen den WeltenThis new book by Jens Schneeweiss focuses on the Höhbeck/Elbe area along the border between Lower Saxony and Brandenburg. This area lays “between the worlds” of the Viking Age. In the Early Middle Ages, the Vikings were the “global players” of the north. The west was determined by Charlemagne and his empire, followed by the Ottonians, whereas Eastern Europe was populated by the Slavs. From the 8th to the 11th century, these people clashed in this border region. Here, European history was condensed exactly at the location where the Iron Curtain divided Europe in the 20th century.

From 2005-2009, the Department of Prehistory and Early History of the Georg-August-University of Göttingen carried out extensive archaeological excavations in this border region on the Elbe. They were largely funded by the DFG. The results of this research form the basis of the book, which ranges from the first appearance of Slavs on the Elbe in the 7th and 8th centuries to the beginning of High Medieval land development during the 11th and 12th centuries.

At the Höhbeck, the defunct Carolingian border trade control town of Schezla was located with Charlemagne’s castellum hohbuoki. Here, Henry I defeated the Slavs in a crucial battle in CE 929. At that time, long before the construction of dikes, the development of settlements was closely linked to the dynamics of the river landscape. This can be interpreted as an expression of sensitive man-environment relations, which contributed to the fact that history reached an impasse at Höhbeck. The subsequent loss of importance of this region paradoxically makes it a treasure trove for archaeology, because it provides us today with a surprisingly unobstructed insight into the Early Middle Ages.

An interdisciplinary approach allows Jens Schneeweiss to illustrate different scientific perspectives on the history of settlements and events. In addition to a traditional archaeological analysis of finds and features, the volume contains geoarchaeological, historical, and theoretical approaches, opening up new levels of interpretation. They shed new light on early European history far beyond the immediate Elbe region.

Zwischen den Welten: Archäologie einer europäischen Grenzregion zwischen Sachsen, Slawen, Franken und Dänen by Jens Scheenweiß. Göttinger Schriften zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 36. Kiel: Wachholtz Verlag 2020, 792 pages (in German).

The book can be viewed here (Wachholtz Verlag).

Decor-Räume in pompejanischen Stadthäusern. Ausstattungsstrategien und Rezeptionsformen / Annette Haug

A Haug

This new book by Annette Haug, PI of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, examines the decorative principles at work in the city houses of Pompeii for the time between the end of the second century BC and the beginning of the imperial period. For the first time, the decorating phenomena are analysed not only individually, but they are also examined in relationship to their spatial and social context.

Das Buch von Annette Haug, PI des Exzellenzclusters ROOTS, untersucht die decorativen Prinzipien, die in Stadthäusern Pompejis zwischen dem ausgehenden 2. Jh. v.Chr. und der beginnenden Kaiserzeit wirksam werden. Dabei werden erstmals nicht nur einzelne Decorphänomene isoliert, sondern in ihrem räumlichen und sozialen Wirkungszusammenhang untersucht.

Decor-Räume in pompejanischen Stadthäusern. Ausstattungsstrategien und Rezeptionsformen (Decor spaces in Pompeian town houses. Furnishing strategies and forms of reception) by Annette Haug, De Gruyter (2020), Series: Decor 1, 620 pages, 427 illustration (in German)

The book can be viewed here (De Gruyter)

Other recent volumes edited by Annette Haug include:
Urban Practices. Repopulating the Ancient City, by A. Haug – S. Merten (eds.), Brepols (2020). Link
Hellenistic Architecture and Human Action. A Case of Reciprocal Influence, by A. Haug – A. Müller (eds.), SideStone (2020). Link

Stymphalos: Das Bild einer arkadischen Landschaft und ihrer Menschen in der antiken Literatur / Saskia Hoffmann

HoffmannThe Arcadian landscape and the town of Stymphalos mainly (and often uniquely) evoke an association with the myth of Heracles and his fight against the Stymphalian birds, who polluted Lake Stymphalia. This place on the Greek peninsula Peloponnese was not only mentioned by ancient authors because of the famous myth, as one of the twelve deeds of Heracles, but also due to other interesting aspects. For instance, Lake Stymphalia has particular hydrological features due to the karstic geology of the Peloponnese. As the result of a ponor (katavothre or sink hole), Lake Stymphalia varies in size seasonally. The lake water disappears through the sink hole in the ground, continues its course for a while and rises as the “new” river Erasinos near Argos.

This hydrological phenomenon is mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus for the first time. There are several myths, for example, Herakles and the Stymphalian birds; Artemis, the hunter and the deer; or Arethusa and Alpheios, which refer to certain features of the hydrological “behaviour” of the Lake. The latter two are connected with the goddess Artemis, who was worshipped as the deity of the polis Stymphalos in her own temple there, which is described by Pausanias. Furthermore, an extraordinary Hera cult, in which Hera was venerated in three aspects of a woman´s life: as an unmarried maiden (gr. Pais/Parthenos), as a wife (gr. Teleia) and as a divorced woman or widow (gr. Chera), was located and only existed at Stymphalos. Last but not least, the river cult of Metope, the main water suppliant of Lake Stymphalos, is worth mentioning.

Ancient Stymphalos, which is already referred to in the Homeric catalogue of ships among the Arcadian troops, who fought the Trojan War together with the other Greeks, was also the home town of two victors in the Olympic Games: Dromeus and Hagesias. Hagesias´ victory was eulogised by Pindar in a victory ode (epinicion), in which a frame of characteristic items of Stymphalos is elaborated along with his praise of Hagesias. This is why this ode, the Sixth Olympian, can be seen as a major text answering the question how the Stymphalos landscape is represented in its physiogeographic and human-geographic aspects.

The book by Saskia Hoffmann illustrates a mental picture of Stymphalos that can be deduced from the ancient literary sources that refer to this place. Methodically, this objective is achieved by the combination of philological text analysis and interpretation as well as its application to categories and criteria of geography and geology.

Saskia Hoffmann completed her PhD thesis in the framework of the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSC 208).

Hoffmann, Saskia: Stymphalos: Das Bild einer arkadischen Landschaft und ihrer Menschen in der antiken Literatur. Schriftenreihe altsprachliche Forschungsergebnisse 16. Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovaç, 2020. 322 pages.

For the link to the publication please click here (Verlag Dr. Kovaç)

Holz vom Helikon. Die Musen und ihre Landschaft in Kult, Mythos und Literatur / Kleoniki Rizou

RizouParnassus, Pieria and above all Helicon – the landscapes of the Muses – have been, like the goddesses themselves, topoi of European literature from antiquity until today. The study by Kleoniki Rizou explores the peculiar connection between the Muses and ‘their’ landscapes not only as an illustrative accessory, but also as a systematic conceptualisation of the Muses´ function.
For this purpose, a comprehensive inventory of the available sources was compiled, with a special focus on Mount Helicon. From this perspective, three key texts from three epochs come into focus anew: the proemium to Hesiod’s Theogony, Euripides’ Heracles and Corinna’s song about the contest between Helicon and Cithaeron. The detailed interpretations of these texts provide a better understanding of the specific function of the connection between the Muses and Mt. Helicon. This newly gained systematic understanding creates the starting point for the fresh interpretation of the seemigly well-known works.

Kleoniki Rizou completed her PhD thesis in the framework of the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSC 208).

Rizou, Kleoniki: Holz vom Helikon. Die Musen und ihre Landschaft in Kult, Mythos und Literatur. Kalliope – Studien zur griechischen und lateinischen Poesie 19. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2020. 756 pages.

Find the link to the publication here (Winter Verlag)

Landscapes of Difficult Heritage by Gustav Wollentz

Landscapes of difficult heritage

The book Landscapes of Difficult Heritage presents the research that Gustav Wollentz carried out at the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’. The book addresses how people negotiate difficult heritage within their everyday lives, focusing on memory, belonging, and identity. The starting point for this examination is that temporalities lie at the core of understanding this negotiation and that the connection between temporalities and difficult heritage remains poorly understood and theorised in previous research. In order to fully explore the temporalities of difficult heritage, the book investigates places in which the incident of violence originated within different time periods. The volume examines one example of modern violence (Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina), one example where the associated incident occurred during medieval times (the Gazimestan monument in Kosovo), and one example of prehistoric violence (Sandby borg in Sweden). The book presents new theoretical perspectives and provides suggestions for the development of sites of difficult heritage, and will thus be relevant for academic researchers, students, and heritage professionals.   

Reviews:
"Wollentz’s study is very impressive in its intellectual breadth and depth, combining acute insights in the theory of heritage and memory with detailed empirical observations derived from heritage ethnographies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Sweden." (Cornelius Holtorf, UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University, Sweden)

“Gustav Wollentz’s book is a refreshing read that enters into the intense debate on difficult heritage and invites us to rethink some of the analytical tools we use for the study of spaces marked by violent events, starting from the very notion of ‘temporality’. The book’s analyses of Mostar, Gazimestan, and Sandby borg are not mere applications of the concepts discussed in the theoretical chapters, but are a remarkable way of “doing theory” empirically, moving from the specific features of each case study.” (Francesco Mazzucchelli, University of Bologna, Italy)

Landscapes of Difficult Heritage by Gustav Wollentz, Palgrave Macmillan (2020), 297 pages, 41 illustrations (in English).

Pernil Alto: Transition to early agriculture in Southern Peru / Hermann Gorbahn

Gorbahn
In his dissertation, now published as a book, Hermann Gorbahn presents the results of his research at the site of Pernil Alto in Southern Peru. The site dates to the sixth millennium cal BP and is located on the Andean foothills of the Peruvian coastal desert. It was a small village of 18 huts, where people were also buried. The investigations of the site were carried out within the project ‘Andean Transect’ of the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures of the German Archaeological Institute (link). They documented that a transition from a low-level food- production subsistence economy to a subsistence economy based on agriculture occurred around 5300 cal BP. Pernil Alto is thus one of the oldest agricultural villages in the Central Andes known to date. These results are relevant in order to reconstruct the emergence of early complex societies on the Peruvian central coast at the beginning of the fifth millennium BP, which subsequently formed the nucleus of later cultural developments of the Central Andes.

Hermann Gorbahn completed his PhD thesis in the framework of the Graduate School ‘Human Development in Landscapes’ (GSC 208). In addition to his position within the Graduate School, he was also supported by Graduate School research funds.

Gorbahn, Hermann: Pernil Alto. An agricultural village of the Middle Archaic period in Southern Peru. Forschungen zur Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen 17. Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag 2020. ISBN: 978-3-447-11417-2 (link)

GorbahnThe site of Pernil Alto on the right margin of the Rio Grande, Southern Peru (Photo: Project "Andean Transect"/KAAK, DAI/Johny Isla).

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