CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation


January 08, 2018

Recent palynological research on subsistence transformations in the costal zones of Mesolithic Norway

Examples of settlement plans in Central and Southeast Europe.Based on previous palynological research, the new publication “Towards a refined understanding of the use of coastal zones in the Mesolithic: New investigations on human–environment interactions in Telemark, southeastern Norway” deals with transformations in prehistoric subsistence. In collaboration of Kiel University together with colleagues from Oslo, M. Wieckowska-Lüth, CRC 1266 subproject F3 researcher W. Kirleis, S. Solheim and A. Schülke, both Museum of Cultural History, Oslo University, could identify anthropogenic manipulations in Mesolithic woodlands in the costal hinterland of southeastern Norway. The joint publication tackles the question if early woodland management was an intended or unintended process and in which sense hunter-gatherer strategies of costal hinterland exploitation contributed to forest alteration. Besides evidence for the repeated use of the forested costal hinterland in Mesolithic times, a highlight of their research findings is the consistency of archaeological and palynological data, as both material culture and pollen proxies’ support the fact that the availability of the resource lime (providing timber for dug out canoes and bast for ropes) was one potential trigger for the production and use of Noestvet axes, as the number of sites with these artefacts increases with the onset and peaks in the Tilia pollen curve. Based on this data, as well changes in the woodland composition (occurrance of lime) as transformations in the site pattern (establishment of special workshop activity areas in the coastal hinterland) can be explained.

Figure: Summed probability distribution plot of all published 14C-dates (n = 57) from 18 sites containing Nøstvet axes and production waste in southeastern Norway plotted against the percentage curves of Tilia and Betula. The decreases in the Tilia curve represent opening up of the forest canopy and the potential use of the timber and bast of the lime e.g. for dug out canoes, whereas the increases in the Betula curve demonstrate the starts of the woodland regeneration phases with the pioneer species birch. Figure: Steinar Solheim/Carsten Reckweg (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, University of Kiel). M. Wieckowska-Lüth et al. 2018, p. 848, fig. 10

M. Wieckowska-Lüth, S. Solheim, A. Schülke, W. Kirleis, 2018: Towards a refined understanding of the use of coastal zones in the Mesolithic: New investigations on human–environment interactions in Telemark, southeastern Norway. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17 (2018) 839-851. DOI:10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.12.045

October 23, 2017

New Publications: Developments of Population Agglomerations, Social inequality and Centralized Control in Neolithic to Iron Age times

Examples of settlement plans in Central and Southeast Europe.

Three new publications of CRC 1266 speaker Johannes Müller concentrate on aspects of developments and forms of population agglomerations connected to the origin of social inequalities and centralized control in prehistoric Europe. The settlements and Chalcolithic mega-sites in Southeast Europe, especially the Balkan and the North Pontic region. Additionally to the scope of the GSHDL “Human Dresearch benefits from long-term project collaborations and excavations of Neolithicevelopment in Landscapes”, the studies are of main interest for questions related to social and economic transformations addressed in the CRC 1266 (e.g. subproject A1, D1, interlinking groups “Economies: Stability and transformation” and “Social organisation and Built Space”).

In “From the Neolithic to the Iron Age – Demography and Social Agglomeration. The Development of Centralized Control” Müller takes a diachronic look on patterns of economic and social structures present at sites of population agglomerations and concludes the breakdown of these proto-urban structures as a response of vulnerable societies to internal changes of the state system. Not a general population growth but the concentration of people and the magnitude of control exercised within these communities prevented the development of sustainable socio-political systems, which stays in contrast to the Near East. In co-authorship with CRC 1266 and GSHDL colleagues Vesa Arponen, Robert Hofmann and René Ohlrau, the paper “The Appearance of social inequalities: Cases of Neolithic and Chacolithic Societies” presents a new methodological approach how to detect social inequality and forms of social control. The archaeological record of households from Late Neolithic Balkan villages and Chalcolithic North Pontic mega-sites is examined in order to establish proxies addressing these issues, for instance the social meaning of households by comparing architecture and inventories.  “Inheritance, population development and social identities” discusses the role of households and inheritance rules in Southeast Europe from 5200-4300 BCE related to questions concerning changes of political structures within these societies. Along concrete examples, he considers the institutional and regulatory characteristics of these concepts connected to certain archaeological proxies, such as house size, settlement structure, degree of population agglomeration and regional population density.

Müller, J., From the Neolithic to the Iron Age – Demography and Social Agglomeration. The Development of Centralized Control. In: Manuel Fernández-Götz und Dirk Krause (Ed.): Eurasia at the Dawn of History. Urbanization and Social Change. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017, p. 106–124.

Müller, J.; Arponen, V. P.; Hofmann, R.; Ohlrau, R., The Appearance of social inequalities: Cases of Neolithic and Chacolithic Societies. In: Andrea Cardarelli, Alberto Cazalla und Marcella Fangipane (Ed.): Preistoria e protostoria delle civilta antiche. Thematic issue: The Origin of Inequality. [S.l.]: GANGEMI (Origini. Preistoria e protostoria delle civiltà antiche - Prehistory and protohistory of ancient civilizations, XXXVIII, 2015-2), 2017, p. 65–83.

Müller, J., Inheritance, population development and social identities. Southeast Europe 5200-4300 BCE. In: Maja Gori und Maria Ivanova (Hg.): Balkan Dialogues. Negotiating Identity between Prehistory and the Present. Florence: Taylor and Francis (Routledge Studies in Archaeology) 2017, p. 156–168.

Picture: Müller, Examples of settlement plans in Central and Southeast Europe. The principles of the spatial distribution of houses, the size of houses and continuities and discontinuities might be interpreted as the reflection of different inheritance rules in the archaeological record: Primogeniture contra partible inheritance (J. Müller, Inheritance, population development and social identities, p. 162).

April 12, 2017

Recent publication on calibration of a p-ed-xrf device

Geochemical analysis of a Linear Band Pottery house

Recent publication on calibration of the GS p-ed-xrf device exemplified on geochemical analyses of a 7300-year-old Linear Band Pottery house from Slovakia    

The settlement site Vráble -Ve'lke Lehemby is one major research object of subproject C2 investigating early sedentary social agglomeration processes in the Carpathian Basin. In cooperation, subproject F2 on-site and near-site studies focus on the establishment of environmental proxies in order to reconstruct past local living conditions and human activity. In their recently published paper, the CRC researchers present results on comprehensive multi-element analyses of a trench filling from a 7300-year-old Linear Band Pottery house located at Vráble. The paper discuss application, calibration and methodological evaluation of the portable ed-XRF device including the reconstruction of post-depositional processes of the archaeo-sediment-sequence. Considering phosphorus content as a proxy for human occupation and different factors of multiphase soil formation, the results give new insights into the possibilities of exploring geochemical records from archaeological contexts. The calibration of the p-ed-xrf device revealed the high quality of quantitative elemental measurements under standardized measurement conditions according to the supplemented protocol. Contributing CRC 1266 authors are Stefan Dreibrodt (F2), Martin Furholt (C2), Robert Hofmann (D1) and Martin Hinz (F1).

Dreibrodt, S., Furholt, M., Hofmann, R., Hinz, M., Cheben I., P-ed-XRF-geochemical signatures of a 7300 year old Linear Band Pottery house ditch fill at Vráble-Ve'lké Lehemby, Slovakia - House inhabitation and post-depositional processes. Quaternary International, 2017 (in press). DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2017.03.054

March 07, 2017

New interdisciplinary research on Maidanetske – a key site oft the chalcolithic Trypillia Mega-site phenomena


IIn European prehistory, population agglomerations of more than 10,000 inhabitants per site are an infrequent phenomenon. The unexpected discovery of the Trypillia mega-sites excavated nearly 50 years ago by Soviet, Ukrainian and Moldavian archaeologists using a multidisciplinary approach, uncovered the remains of more than 2000 houses spread over 250 hectares. More…  

Dec 23, 2016

When millet appeared on the menu of humans: Nature Scientific Reports publication

Map Bruszczewo

In context to the Nature Scientific Reports publication “First molecular and isotopic evidence of millet processing in prehistoric pottery vessels” (Heron et al. 2016), SFB 1266 co-speaker Wiebke Kirleis and researcher Jutta Kneisel talked about the results molecular analyses of broomcorn millet residues and it’s meaning in the Bronze Age in Middle Europe. The article emerged from a collaboration with Carl Heron, who specialises in Bioarchaeology (head of the Department of Archaeological Science, The British Museum, London) and an international team of scientists from Poland, Britain, Japan, South Korea, the United States of America, and Germany.

For the CRC these results are particularly interesting with regard to changing dietary strategies during the Bronze Age.

Heron identified specific molecular markers for broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) in food crusts remains on ceramics found at the settlement site Bruszczewo in Poland. This proves, that millet was already a human foodstuff of the Late Bronze Age and supplemented the increasing diversification taking place during that period in Middle Europe. Transformation processes of dietary strategies and their social dimensions from a diachronic perspective are central issues of the CRC 1266, especially of subproject F3.

Contributing CRC 1266 authors are Johannes Müller, (A1, C1, D1, F5, Z1), Wiebke Kirleis (D1, F3, Z1) and Jutta Kneisel (D3, F1).

Heron, C., Shoda, S., Breu Barcons, A., Czebreszuk, J., Eley, Y., Gorton, M., Kirleis, W., Kneisel, J., Lucquin, A., Müller, J., Nishida, Y., Son, J., Craig, O.E., First molecular and isotopic evidence of millet processing in prehistoric pottery vessels. Nature Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 38767 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep38767.

Dec 14, 2016

Interdisciplinary research on a gallery grave of the Late Neolithic Wartberg (3350-2900 calBC)

 3-4 year old child buried in the gallery grave of Niedertiefenbach
An interdisciplinary pilot study conducted by scientists from the CAU Kiel, University of Zurich and the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Hessen focused on precise 14C dating of the gallery grave as well as palaeopathological, dental and pathogenic evidence of diseases. Members of the CRC sub-projects D2 and F4 are involved in this study, which has recently been published in the Prähistorische Zeitschrift (in German, with English summary).