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Past, Present, Future: Archaeological Climate Summit in Kiel

The condition of sediments informs about environmental developments and human influencesThe 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 excavations worldwide like in Sultana, Romania, document the state of societies and the environment over millenniaArchaeological excavations worldwide like in Sultana, Romania, document the state of societies and the environment over millennia (photo: J. Müller).

 

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

 

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

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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)

ROOTS presents at the 75 Jahre Schleswig-Holstein Celebrations 

22.08.2021

ROOTS Presents

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 - two hands-on activities on the topics of ceramics and landscape history

prime minister, Daniel Günther, took the time to inform himself about our offers for pupils and the general public

Michaela Ecker granted with a prestigious DFG Emily Noether Project

23.07.2021

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

 

Prähistorisches Steinartefakt aus der südlichen Kalahari-Solche von unseren Vorfahren bearbeiteten Steine lassen sich dort auf der Erdoberfläche finden
Prähistorisches Steinartefakt aus der südlichen Kalahari. Solche von unseren Vorfahren bearbeiteten Steine lassen sich dort auf der Erdoberfläche finden. (photo: Michael Ecker)

 

Das trockene Flussbett des Molopo-Flusses. Die Feldarbeiten konzentrieren sich insbesondere auf saisonale, heute meist komplett trocken liegende Flüsse und Seen (Michael Ecker)
Das trockene Flussbett des Molopo-Flusses. Die Feldarbeiten konzentrieren sich insbesondere auf saisonale, heute meist komplett trocken liegende Flüsse und Seen. (photo: Michael Ecker)
 
The original press release in German and English can be found here
Project homepage

Sultana at the start - excavation 2021

05.08.2021


The CRC 1266 is digging in Wallachia. Together with project partners in Bucharest, a six-week excavation has been taking place since mid-July. The team of about 50 people is digging in the settlement mound (ca. 4500-4100 BCE) with rich remains of the world's oldest metallurgical societies, the associated burial ground, a large building near the tell and in a Neolithic Boian predecessor settlement. A deep borehole was drilled with the Usinger drill to obtain a pollen and sediment profile in the nearby lake. In the settlement mound itself, the scientists have now identified four settlement horizons and a fortification accumulated over the last 200 years of settlement. They record the collapse of the Copper Age community there when mega-settlements are beginning in Tripolje. The excavation results will undoubtedly contribute to the correlation of the processes between the Balkans and the steppe and improve the social, environmental and technical historical reconstruction of the transformation ca. 4200/4100 BCE. 
Interdisciplinary teams from environmental archaeology and geophysics are involved alongside archaeologists. Project partners on-site are the University of Bucharest and various museums, plus the Technical University of Ghent. The excavation team is multilingual (Romanian, German, Italian, English, French, Ukrainian, Russian, Dutch ...), contributing to European commonality.

Drilling on the Sultana Lake for a core
Fig. 1: Drilling on the Sultana Lake for a core (photo: J. Müller) 

 

Excavation in one trench on the settlement mound SultanaFig. 2: Excavation in one trench on the settlement mound Sultana (photo: J. Müller) 

 

Use of industrial vacuum cleaners on the excavation Fig. 3: Use of industrial vacuum cleaners on the excavation (photo: J. Müller) 

 

Excavation of a chalcolithic burial Fig. 4: Excavation of a chalcolithic burial (photo: J. Müller)

 

Kiel University press release

Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations: Black Gold

09.07.2021

Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations: Black GoldBlack Diamonds. Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations:
Black GoldAs 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. 

Educational film on bucket flotation for archaeobotanical investigations: Black Gold 

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.  

2021_Film_Black_Gold_Kirleis_03

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. 

2021_Film_Black_Gold_Kirleis_04

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.
 
Watch the video on the Kiel University You Tube channel: 
 English version:
German version:

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