Current Projects

Here you can find references on current institute projects or project participtations. The completed projects can be found at the end.

CRC 1266 Scales of Transformation

Logo SFB1266 Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies

The CRC 1266 takes a long-term perspective, from 15,000 BCE to 1 BCE, to investigate processes of transformation in a crucial period of human history, from late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers to early state societies.

The institutes is integrated into this Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) with various subprojects.

SFB 1266 - A: Theory and Modelling

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A1: Theories of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies

Theories of transformation in prehistoric and archaic societies will engage in methodological elaboration, development as well as critique of theories and theoretical concepts used within this CRC. The key task of theory project A1 lies in a theoretical conceptualization of the complex archaeological and palaeo-environmental factors influencing transformation processes of prehistoric and archaic societies. Environmental, cultural and social theories will be used to develop middle range theories together with the other projects and disciplines of the CRC.

Principal Investigators: Annette Haug, Johannes Müller, Konrad Ott

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A2: Integrative Modelling of Socio-Environmental System Dynamics (DFG GEPRIS)

The development of an integrative modelling framework to analyze and simulate the spatial and temporal dynamics of transformation, adaptation and reorganization processes in human-nature environments of prehistoric and archaic societies constitutes the main focus of project A2. Based on the data and expert knowledge gained conceptual and computerized models will be set up  in order to simulate the spatio-temporal patterns of development and transformation processes in human-organized landscapes in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Principal Investigators: Rainer Duttmann, Oliver Nakoinz

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SFB 1266 - B: Complex Foragers

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B1: Pioneers of the North: Transitions and Transformations in Northern Europe Evidenced by High-Resolution Data Sets (DFG GEPRIS)

This project concentrates on cultural and socio-economic transformations in mobile hunter-gatherer groups during their colonisation of Northern Europe in the Final Palaeolithic period, as they were confronted with different and changing environmental conditions. To this end, well-preserved sites from Northern Germany and Scandinavia are studied with regard to the archaeological remains and connected environmental records. Thus, the dynamics of technological developments, subsistence strategies, mobility patterns and local and regional interaction networks will be examined and contextualised with changes in the environment.

Principal investigator:   Berit Valentin Eriksen

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B2: Transitions of Specialized Foragers (DFG GEPRIS)

This project will investigate the interplay of social and environmental transformations during the Early and Mid-Holocene period in Northern Germany with a focus on the increasing influence of humans on the environment. To this end, the available data of several well-investigated micro-regions are used together with additional archaeological and palaeo-ecological field-investigations with a multi-scalar, regional approach, which will explore the relationship of environmental changes, subsistence strategies, changes in social organisation and human impact on the environment.

Principal investigators: Harald Lübke, Ulrich Schmölcke, John Meadows, Sönke Hartz

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SFB 1266 - C: Horticulturalists

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C1: Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transformations on the Northern and Central European Plain (DFG GEPRIS)

Project C1 adopts a comparative perspective towards several successively marked transformations in social and environmental domains from the Late Mesolithic to the end of the Neolithic period on the Northern European Plain. It will use high-quality archives of environmental developments and archaeological remains to extract and compare patterns of transformation in selected test areas, implementing both archived materials and results from additional fieldwork.

Principal investigators: Sönke Hartz, Johannes Müller

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C2: The Dynamics of Settlement Concentration Processes and Land-Use in Early Farming Communities of the Northwestern Carpathian Basin (DFG GEPRIS)

Das Projekt untersucht soziale Agglomerationsprozesse früher sesshafter Gesellschaften im Karpatenbecken mit einem Fokus auf die mit diesen Prozessen zusammenhängenden Veränderungen im Bereich sozialer Beziehungen, der Subsistenz, der Mobilität und Landnutzungsmustern. Siedlungen unterschiedlicher Größe und Struktur, Interaktionsmuster innerhalb von und zwischen Siedlungen und die Dynamik von Landschaftsänderungen werden analysiert.

Principal investigator: Martin Furholt

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SFB 1266 - D: Agriculturalists and First Metallurgists

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D1: Population agglomerations at Tripolye-Cucuteni mega-sites (DFG GEPRIS)

This project deals with the processes of formation and collapse of the Chalcolithic Cucuteni-Tripolye mega-sites with regard to social conditions and consequences, spatial behaviour, the organisation of subsistence and economy and the use of environmental resources. Such processes will be explored in three different regions, covering single mega-sites and their surroundings with a concentration on surveying, excavation, formal analyses of social space and palaeo-environmental reconstructions.

Principal investigators: Hans-Rudolf Bork, Wiebke Kirleis, Johannes Müller

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D2: Third millennium transformations of social and economic practices in the German Lower Mountain Range (DFG GEPRIS)

Project D2 explores the transformation of ritual practices, economic patterns and the use of the environment by communities during the 3rd millennium BCE in the area of the German Lower Mountain Range, which is archaeologically connected to the transition to Corded Ware groups. The main question is to what degree the marked changes in ritual practices and material culture are connected to changes in the economy and land-use. This will be mainly explored through analyses of social networks, nutrition, mobility patterns and land-use, using available archived materials, mainly from graves, but with a special focus on the scarce settlement data.

Principal investigators: Martin Furholt, Christoph Rinne

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D3: The Bronze Age in North Central Europe: Scales of transformation (DFG GEPRIS)

The Bronze Age in Northern Central Europa displays different phases of extraordinary transformations On the one hand the transition to the Middle Bronze Age and on the other the beginning of the Urnfield period. From a European perspective, 1600 and 1200 BCE are commonly understood as two tipping points of drastic societal change, collapses and crises: the end of the first Bronze Age settlement between Elbe and Warta around 1500 BC and a subsequent lack of human impact in these areas for around 150 years. And 200 years later, the start of cremation burials and the large urn mark the beginning of the late Bronze Age around 1300 BC. The introduction of the cremation not only proves a change in the burial ritual, but also proves radical social changes. In contrast to the few older Bronze Age graves, every individual was then buried. But the transformation processes are not the same in all regions.

Principal investigator: Jutta Kneisel

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SFB 1266 - F: Socio-Environmental Components of Change

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F1: Supra-regional crises: Abrupt climate change and responses of (multi-cultural) ancient societies in the western Mediterranean area and in Southern Central Europe around 4200 years BP (DFG GEPRIS)

The aim of project F1 is to disentangle complex socio-environmental processes of transformations in a supra-regional and super-cultural view, and plans to assess the role of abrupt climate change and socio-environmental crises in shaping archaeological transformations exemplarily starting with the 4.2 ka BP event in the western Mediterranean region by a) geological analyses of marine climate archives to reconstruct hydroclimatic changes, i.e. precipitation (¿D of plant wax n-alkanes), seasonal SST (Uk37´, planktonic foraminifera/¿¿18O) and hydrography as quantifiable climate proxies and b) the exploration of archaeological materials that relate to the 4.2 event in the western Mediterranean through compilation and analyses of archaeological and palaeo-ecological data.

Principal investigators: Jutta Kneisel, Christoph Rinne, Ralph Schneider, Mara Weinelt

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F2: Socio-environmental transformations and interdependencies (DFG GEPRIS)

The focus of project F2 concentrates on the role of environmental change for cultural development during phases of cultural transformations. Two approaches will be applied by using pollen-, geochemical-, and microfacies-analyses of varied spatial and temporal scales. On-site and near-site studies of sediments, buried soils, colluvial deposits and archaeological features will provide information on local living conditions, human activity and environmental change with high spatial resolution. To identify trans-regional human-environmental interdependencies, a comparison of annually laminated lake sediments on a transect spanning different ecological and cultural zones from Northwest Germany to Southeast Poland is envisaged.

Principal investigators: Hans-Rudolf Bork, Walter Dörfler

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F3: Dynamics of plant economies in ancient societies (DFG GEPRIS)

To understand the driving factors and components for transformative developments in subsistence regimes and their societal feedbacks, a multi-proxy approach will be applied in project F3 through the integration of quantifiable evidence from archaeobotany, archaeology/material culture and ethnography. In a diachronic perspective and for a geographical transect spanning from the Northern European Plain via East-Central Europe towards the Carpathian Basin, data from botanical macro-remain analyses will be compared with data from the material culture related to food acquisition and agricultural practices and be contrasted with ethnographic data to identify possible typologies of technological change in subsistence economy.

Principal investigator: Wiebke Kirleis

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F5: Social Dimensions of Technological Change (DFG GEPRIS)

Technology represents an important medium for socio-environmental interactions  particularly in times of change. 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. 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 to create dialogues with the PIs in the CRC.

Principal investigators: Berit Valentin Eriksen, Martin Furholt, Johannes Müller

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Unetice North

Grabhügel von Lenki MaleLate Neolithic/Early Bronze Age developments in the south-west Baltic area (2500-1500 BC): Why did the Bruszczewo-Leki Male type of power structures appear?

DFG: project identifier 277223019 GEPRIS

The social development of the Northern Unetice culture (UC) of the south-west Baltic area (SWB - from Holstein to Greater Poland) was highly significant regarding the agglomeration of power structures. Reasons for this process still remain unclear; especially concerning the roots of the development of Early Bronze Age (EBA) society against the backdrop of the Late Neolithic (LN) (e.g. Corded Ware and Bell Beakers). Our Polish-German research on the EBA fortified settlement in Bruszczewo (Koscian area in Greater Poland) confirmed that specific, very stable and innovative UC power agglomerations existed for centuries, denoted as the Bruszczewo-Leki Male type. However, just as for the entire SWB area, it is still not possible to explain their origins and relations to previously dominating socio-cultural phenomena.

Our project aims to achieve two main interrelated goals. The first is to identify the socio-cultural character of LN societies and their role in the construction of UC identities in the SWB (macroscale). The second is to recognize how these roles are visible in the Koscian group of the UC (microscale).



RADON-B Radiocarbon dates online

Radon-B-Bild.png RADON-B – Radiocarbon data online
Data base for European radiocarbon dates of the Bronze and Early Iron Age (version 2013)
Based on the work of Martin Hinz, Jutta Kneisel, Nina Krischke, Johannes Müller, Christoph Rinne, Marcel Rodens, Helle Vandkilde
Financed by: GSHDL

The data base encompasses radiocarbon dates of the European Bronze and Early Iron Age, spanning from 2,300 to 500 BC. The data can be sorted according to geographic or chronological factors, by the type of sample materials, by the sites of recovery or by the findings. The hope is that RADON-B will be instrumental in determining European chronologies by giving a current overview of absolute dates for Europe.

Between Vikings and the Hanse


Continuity and development of the central distribution centre Haithabu/Schleswig during the 11th century

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Financed by: VW Stiftung, funding model "Forschung in Museen"

Two historically significant sites, Haithabu and Schleswig, are located at the inner end of the Schlei. The excavated remains of both historical distribution centres are located in the Archaeological State Museum in Schleswig. Haithabu was populated from the 8th to the middle of the 11th century, with Schleswig emerging close by during the second half of the 11th century.

SPP1400 Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation

spp1400-logo.png On the origin and development of Neolithic large buildings and the first complex societies in Northern Central Europe.

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Financed by: DFG priority program

DFG-Science-TV.png How and why did the first monuments first appear in Northern Germany? Which part did economic developments play? What influence did the climate have? Which societies developed what for their social space? Which social differences are apparent? How and why did the funnel beaker societies end? These and many others are the questions that have been investigated since 2009 in the priority program (SPP 1400) at the institute. The program was partly filmed and the resulting 3-4 mins clips were published on the DFG Science TV projects page.

SPP1400 : Landscape and Environment


Differentiating between landscape and environment as the basis for early monumentality during the Neolithic Age in Northern Germany (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

In order to answer questions on environmental changes, cultivation methods, economic areas and excess productions, archaeobotanical work and pollen analyses have been conducted which increase the data network on economy and environment of the Northern Central European Neolithic Age.

SPP1400 : Büdelsdorf and Albersdorf


Monumental enclosures, non-megalithic and megalithic tombs of the Early and Middle Neolithic Age (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

The megalithic constructions of Borgstedt that are radialy aligned towards the ditch enclosure in Büdelsdorf in Southern Schleswig as well as the ditch enclosure Dieksknöll with its neighboring megalithic constructions can help in understanding the relationship and meaning behind ditch enclosures and stockades.

SPP1400 : Megalithic constructions and settlement patterns in Ostholstein

Wangels Keramik Megalithic constructions and settlement patterns during the Funnel Beaker period in Ostholstein (3,500-2,700 BC): Middle Travetal and Western Oldenburger Graben (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

The coastal and inland settlements of the archaeologically significant Funnel Beaker landscape of Ostholstein can shed light on the size, function and economics of Funnel Beaker settlements with a comparative study of the central Travetal and the western Oldenburger Graben.

SPP1400: Haldensleben - Hundisburg


Formation, function and the relationship to the landscapes of megalithic tombs, enclosures and settlements of the Funnel Beaker Culture in the Haldensleben-Hundisburg region (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

A large concentration of megalithic tombs (spatialy seperated from other grave sites) can be found near Haldensleben (Saxony-Anhalt) situated at a border between a loess and a moraine landscape. What does it mean? What sort of impact does the border between the old and new settlement sites have? What sort of social implications can be drawn from the spatial structures?

SPP1400 : Population, Communication and Tradition


Population density, communication structures and spatial traditions of the Funnel Beaker Culture (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

The various data archives of the Funnel Beaker societies are analysed in order to reconstruct spatial distribution patterns of monuments as well as of types of finds, which can then be used as a basis for statistical analysis, e.g. reconstructing population sizes. 

SPP1400 : Ocean and Northern Climates


Middle Holocene climate variability in Northern Germany and adjacent marine areas

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Financed by: DFG priority program

Marine archives can be used to identify climate proxies, which can be applied in reconstructing the Neolithic climate in Northern Germany.

SPP1400 : Chronological and Spatial Differentiation

SPP: Zeitliche DifferenzierungChronological and spatial differentiation of the Funnel Beaker Culture

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Financed by: DFG priority program

Detailed and accurate independent chronologies for the individual regions are essential to quantify the spatial patterns of the developing Neolithic cultures. This project will act as a 14C central dating and chronology project for the other SPP projects.

SPP1400 : Coordination


Coordinating the SPP 1400 "Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation" (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG priority program

Building and maintaining the joint data bases of all projects and organising the communication within priority programs are the key tasks of the coordination project.

Bruszczewo: Bronze Age in the Greater Polish Settlement Cluster of Koscian (DFG)


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Financed by: DFG

In accordance with a longstanding collaboration with the Poznan University, research is being conducted on the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age approx. 60 km south of Poznan. The research involves extensive surveys and the excavation of an early bronze aged settlement as well as the future excavation of a Late Neolithic site. The many palaeoecological findings enable the reconstruction of the relationship between humans and their environments.

The Megalithic Landscape of Altmark (DFG)


Information about the project
Financed by: DFG

The excavations of two megalithic tombs (Lüdelsen) and the application of sondages at an enclosure and a settlement site near Tangeln (Denis Demnick u. Sarah Diers), combined with pollen analysis and the examination of sediments, should enable the reconstruction of the Middle-Neolithic landscape with its grave and settlement sites. The relationship between Neolithic monumental architecture, settlement structures and environmental changes can be interpreted by jointly analysing palaeoecological data, surveys, grave site research and test excavations at settlement sites and enclosures.

Okoliste: Settlement Archaeology in the Central Balkan (DFG)


Research on the economic and social history of Late Neolithic populations (5,500-4,500 BC) (DFG)

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Financed by: DFG

Archaeological surveys and excavations in Bosnia by the Roman Germanic Commission (Knut Rassmann) and the Christian-Albrechts-University (Johannes Müller) in collaboration with the State Museum of Sarajevo (Zilka Kujundzic) of Bosnia and Herzegovina have already begun. In Okoliste at the Bosna, a tell in the canton Visoko (about 50 km north of Sarajevo) is being excavated.

Geomagnetic in Southeastern Europe (DAI)


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Financed by: DAI, GSHDL

The Institute for Pre- and Protohistory is undertaking geomagnetic surveys at Neolithic and Copper Age settlement sites in Romania in accordance with the DAI-Clusters I and in close collaboration with the Eurasian department at the DAI (Prof. Svend Hansen). Further noteworthy collaborations of this project are with the historic national museum Cluj (Prof. G. Lazarovic, Dr. Z. Maxim), the archaeological institute Iasi (Dr. C. M. Lazarovici, Prof. D. Monah), the CMJ Piatra-Neamt (Prof. G. Dumitroaia) and the Brukenthalmuseum Sibiu (Prof. S. A. Luca). Ten sites were examined in 2007 and 2008, which had some intriguing results.



recording system for prehistoric pottery of Northern Central Europe

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Financed by: DFG, GSHDL

The recording system NoNeK makes the comparison of ceramic analyses of different sites possible. This will enable new insights by comparing spatially and chronologically separate sites or even different sources e.g. burials and settlements with each other.