Forschungsprojekte

1. „The Dynamics of Settlement Concentration Processes and Land-use in Early Farming Communities in the North-western Carpathian Basin“

This project is being conducted in the context of the CRC 1266 „Scales of Transformations“ and is funded by the German Research Foundation („DFG“),  during the period from 2016 to 2020. We collaborate with a number of German and Slovakian Colleagues. Starting point were geomagnetic surveys and excavations several early Neolithic site in southwest Slovakia and Western Hungary, together with field surveys and excavations. The aim of the project is to investigate how the newly formed LBK societies established large, agglomerated settlements, as they are found, for example in Vráble, Southwest Slovakia,

What is still very poorly understood is how many people were involved, how sedentary these societies were to begin with, how they actually adopted agriculture and animal husbandry, and what degree of experimentation or diverse developments played their part. We want to know whether traces of the Mesolithic heritage can be identified and what role south-eastern European traditions played and which include new forms of social organisation, subsistence strategies and how the demographic and economic basis of these developments evolved. With survey and excavation data form several sites in Hungary and Slovakia, combined with available data from older excavations and surveys, it will be possible to answer these questions grounded on a substantial base of archaeological and scientific data. One major problem with the research on LBK societies so far has been the application of a number unquestioned premises towards the nature of social organisation and economy. It has been assumed that all LBK settlements are constituted by socially homogenous, culturally coherent, fully sedentary and agriculturally based communities. These prejudices, which make Neolithic settlements seem like idealised versions of late medieval rural villages have been upheld despite an ever growing amount of clearly contradicting data suggesting a large degree of diversity in nutrition, mobility patterns, even genetic groupings of individual members of these societies.

We thus concentrate on actual and identifiable practices in and around single houses, within sections of a settlement, in settlements as well as regions containing interdependent settlements systems or settlement agglomerations. For such investigations the sites and regions under investigation in southwest Slovakia and Hungary hold great potential. Through the geomagnetic investigations we have complete plans of settlements and are able choose the optimal places for excavations. Through an excellent preservation on several of the sites, we have obtained good series of cereal, bone and teeth samples for stable isotope and aDNA analyses.  We have now started to investigate the strategies of animal husbandry relating to the different animal species, the strategies of crop production and plant management and collection. We will be able to compare these data to those analysed further to the west, and answer the question how stable and standardised food producing strategies of the first central European Farmers and if and how these patterns changed over time.

 

2.  Regional and Local Patterns of 3rd Millennium Transformations of Social and Economic Practices in the Central German Mountain Range (with Christoph Rinne, Kiel)

This Project This project is being conducted in the context of the CRC 1266 „Scales of Transformations“ and is funded by the German Research Foundation („DFG“). It focusses on on the transformation of ritual practices, social and economic patterns by communities during the 3rd  millennium BCE in the area of the Lower Mountain Range (Central and West Germany). It will be explored to what degree the marked changes in burial rituals around 2800 BCE during the transition from the Late Neolithic period (as distinguished in the Wartberg, Bernburg, Salzmünde and Funnel Beakers cultures) to the Final Neolithic period (represented by Corded Ware and Schönfeld complexes) are linked to changes in settlement patterns, subsistence economy and burial rituals.

The above mentioned transition is part of a Europe-wide phenomenon, which is traditionally seen as an abrupt or at least rapid transformation, and is connectd to phenomena of migration. It has, however, become clear that in order to understand thethe social processes connected to this transformation, we need to look at local and regional developments in order to assess their potentially diverse trajectories. The German Lower Mountain Range provides a suitable laboratory to study and compare processes of transformation affecting cosmology, rituals, social relations, subsistence and settlement patterns. It is one of the core regions of the “Corded Ware” phenomenon, and it also includes a variety of different ecological areas in the overall similar environmental and climatic zone of the Lower Mountain Range, thus enabling the assessment of differential economic strategies.

 

3. Temporal and Spatial Patterns of the Funnel Beaker Culture

This project is funded by the German Research Council ("DFG"), started in 2009 and will exist until 2017. Until 2013 it was headed by Dr. Marie-Josee Nadeau, who handed it over to me, when she left for Trondheim University.  It served as the central dating project of the SPP „Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation“ . Its aim is to create fine-grained chronological models for the different funnel beaker micro-regions, and monument building sequences, in order to refine the status quo, which until now has been mainly based on topochronological models. These, of course have their merits, but are too coarse to be able to account for the dynamics of local activities and regional interaction. We have as yet been able to create detailed Bayesian Models for the histories of several megalithic structures and settlement sites in Northern Germany. The project is now in the phase of final publication. 

 

4. The Social Dimension of Technological Change (with Berit Valentin Eriksen, Schleswig, and Johannes Müller, Kiel)

This project is funded in the context of the CRC 1266 „Scales of  Transformation“ and deals with the social role of technologies in processes of social transformation.  Either the introduction of new technologies is seen as a response to change, or technological innovation is itself seen as a trigger or a direct cause of a societal or environmental transformation. Consequently, technology represents an important medium for socio-environmental interactions in particular in times of change. Technological changes are observed on different spatial scales (from local to global) and on different chronological scales (from short-term invention to long-lasting innovations). In our definition, “technology” is a formalised structure of practices directed towards a defined goal, including social, discursive, and knowledgeable aspects. The capability to apply knowledge, as a mediator of processes and daily activities in relation to demanding periods, is of crucial interest. Both structural elements (knowledge) as well as agent-based elements (know-how) are connected with the distribution of new technologies. Technologies as innovations in societies may be accepted or rejected for social or political reasons, because technologies also transport ideologies. Of special interest are technological changes in the economic sphere (the domestication of plants and animals, production, distribution, consumption) and in the sphere of power structures (whether as an arms race or institutional rule). The main aim of the project is to investigate culturally-specific and general anthropologic patterns as well as individual decisions regarding how technologies are contested, chosen and rejected and how this relates to phenomena of transformation in socio-environmental interactions. This will be approached by involving international guest researchers.