CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation


November 15, 2018

Archaeobotanical results from the Middle Bronze Age Carpathain Basin: Plant economy in Kakucs-Turján


The Kakucs-Turján archaeological site was investigated by a Polish-Hungarian-German research team of archaeologists and various specialists. This volume contains the first, preliminary results of their work, giving the reader an insight into the complex history of the Bronze Age settlement and its economic activities as reflected in the multi-layered stratigraphy of the site. The currently analysed materials from Kakucs-Turján may help to indicate the basic parameters of the development and functioning of the Middle Bronze Age Vatya culture; on the one hand strongly based on local tradition, on the other contextualized within a wider network covering the Carpathian Basin.

The settlement site Kakucs –Turján is one of the research objectives of subproject F3 analyzing Bronze Age food economy in the Bronze Age Carpathian Basin. In chapter 9, ‘The plant economy at the Bronze Age site of Kakucs-Turján: first archaeobotanical results’, S. Filatova, C. Gissel, D. Filipović and W. Kirleis’ present their analyses of the macrobotanical remains in a house structure context (trench 2). To the moment, they conclude that cereals and legumes have played a most important role in the plant economy, especially einkorn and lentil.

Filatova, S., Gissel, C., Filipović, D., Kirleis, W. 2018. The plant economy at the Bronze Age site of Kakucs-Turján: first archaeobotanical results. In: Jaeger, M., Kulscár, G., Taylor, N., Staniuk, R. (ed.), Kakucs-Turján. A Middle Bronze Age multi-layered fortified settlement in Central Hungary Studien zur Archäologie in Ostmitteleuropa, Bd 18, 175-187. Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn. ISBN 978-3-7749-4149-6

November 15, 2018

Step by step - The neolithisation of Northern Central Europe in the light of stable isotope analyses


‘There is a long lasting debate on the nature of the neolithisation process in the northern European lowlands and in southern Scandinavia. Early evidence of domesticates and crop cultivation indicate a transition to farming in this area during the late 5th millennium cal BC. However, there is limited information how this process took place and to what extent the new economy was adopted during the subsequent centuries. (…) Farming economy was introduced in all parts of the lowlands during the early 4th millennium cal BC, but it was not before the 3rd millennium cal BC that it became fully established on a general scale. Our results correspond well with archaeobotanic evidence. They also contribute important information to the discussion of palaeogenetic data, which provide evidence for autochthonous individuals with signals of hunter-gatherer ancestry in farming societies until c. 3000 cal BC.’

In parts, this paper published in Journal of Archaeological Science, has benefit from cluster B and cluster C subproject research and is of major interest for the development of human-environmental interaction during the Neolithic for the northern European scope of the CRC 1266.

Terberger, T., Burger, J., Lüth, F., Müller, J., Piezonka, H., Step by step – The neolithisation of Northern Central Europe in the light of stable isotope analyses. JAS 99, 2018, 66-86. DOI


November 02, 2018

CRC1266 announces “Millet Dating Programme” in Antiquity Project Gallery

Hirse gross

Last year, F3 and G1 projects started a programme of radiocarbon dating of grains of common millet (Panicum miliaceum) found in Neolithic and Bronze Age deposits across Europe. The data will be used to identify changes in the crop cultivation practices and agricultural routine concurrent with the time of millet arrival in Europe and its subsequent (full) integration into the crop spectrum. The study will also try to establish a correlation between the beginnings of millet cultivation and new developments in the material culture (especially objects/tools potentially related to agricultural activities), settlement patterns, and food storage methods. Previous similar work has raised doubts about the age of millet grains reported as being older than the Bronze Age, as the absolute dates demonstrated that some of the ‘Neolithic’ millet is of (significantly) later date.

The F3’s “Millet Dating Programme” expands this initial work to include a much greater archive of archaeological millet–‘small’ (one to several grains) and ‘large’ millet deposits of hundreds or more grains. The initiative encompasses collaboration with a number of colleagues and institutions in Europe and will result in several publications. As now presented in the October issue of Antiquity Project Gallery, the first phase of the programme focuses on the evidence from northern Germany and first results show that millet cultivation likely began in the Late Bronze Age, when a number of changes in settlement, lifestyle and ideology also took place. The next step is to explore how the innovations in agriculture articulate with new developments in other spheres of life.

You can follow the project ‘Before and after: millet cultivation and the transformation of prehistoric crop production in northern Germany’ on Cambridge Core Antiquity 

Filipović, D., Meadows, J., Wiethold, J., Jahns, S., Bittmann, F., & Kirleis, W. (2018). Before and after: Millet cultivation and the transformation of prehistoric crop production in northern Germany. Antiquity, 92(365), E3. DOI

Picture: Detailed photographic documentation of millet grains (D. Filipovic)


May 14, 2018

Current CRC 1266 aDNA research: Stone age hepatitis B virus decoded 

The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Physical Geography

A study recently published in eLIFE proves the viability of recovering viral DNA from ancient samples (aDNA=ancient DNA), and shows the hepatitis B virus has been circulating in Europe for at least 7.000 years.

An international team of scientists led by researchers of Kiel University in the scope of CRC 1266 subproject F4“Tracing infectious diseases in prehistoric populations “ and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (MPI) has successfully reconstructed genomes from Stone Age and Medieval European strains of the hepatitis B virus. The specimen from Sorsum is also part of subproject D2 investigations with focus on Neolithic transformations in the Lower German Mountain Range. The detection of three full hepatitis b virus genomes from archaeological samples represent a methodological breakthrough in aDNA research and sheds new light on the evolution of today’s most widespread disease with 250 million infected people.

Kartierung For more information on thematic relevance and comments by the responsible authors Ben Krause-Kyora (subproject F4, Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology CAU Kiel) and Johannes Krause (MPI Jena) take a look on the official CAU press release.

B. Krause-Kyora, J.Susat, F. M. Key, D. Kühnert, E. Bosse, A. Immel, C. Rinne, Sabin-Christin Kornell, D. Yepes, S. Franzenburg, H. O. Heyne, T. Meier, S. Lösch, H. Meller, S. Friederich, N. Nicklisch, K. W.  Alt, S. Schreiber, A. Tholey, A. Herbig, A. Nebel, J. Krause (2018) Neolithic and Medieval virus genomes reveal complex evolution of Hepatitis B. eLIFE Genomics and Evolutionary Biology, Short report May 10, 2018.

DOI: 10.7554/eLife.36666

CRC 1266 contributing authors: A. Immel, B. Krause-Kyora, A. Nebel, C. Rinne.

Pictures: Skeletal remains of HBV positive individual from the Stone Age site of Karsdorf, Germany, it is from a male with an age at death of around 25-30 years (N. Nicklisch) / Geographic location of the samples from which ancient HBV genomes were recovered. Icons indicate the sample material (tooth or mummy). HBV genomes obtained in this study are indicated by black frame (Krause-Kyora et al. 2018, fig. A).

April 19, 2018

„Critical Physical Geography in Practice“: Book post by SFB 1266 PostDoc Daniel Knitter    

The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Physical Geography

Landscape archaeology is an emerging interdisciplinary field where researchers from humanities and sciences investigate human-environmental interactions and interrelations as well as human perceptions of the environment. The CRC 1266 explicitly focuses on many landscape archaeological questions and investigates them in relation to prehistoric transformations. Together with colleagues from the FU Berlin, A2 postdoc Daniel Knitter discusses the challenges that occur in the process of interpreting material remains produced by coupled eco-social systems in a recently published book contribution. They show how critical physical geographic thinking can help to handle such challenges by describing three main themes, i.e. scale and place, cause and process, as well as system responses, whose features need to be addressed when conducting reflective landscape archaeology. They conclude that the success of landscape archaeological research deeply depends on respect and mutual understanding between the social and natural scientific disciplines involved and the willingness of the scientists to learn some of the co-operating discipline’s languages and concepts.

Knitter D., Bebermeier W., Krause J., Schütt B. (2018) Critical Physical Geography in Practice: Landscape Archaeology. In: Lave R., Biermann C., Lane S. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Physical Geography. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 

March 21, 2018

Settlements of hunter-gatherers: Comparative Perspectives on the Early Mesolithic in the Baltic area

Examples of settlement plans in Central and Southeast Europe.
In their paper „People, lakes and seashores: Studies from the Baltic Sea basin and adjacent areas in the early and Mid-Holocene” Daniel Groß, Harald Lübke (CRC 1266 subproject B2) and Stefan Dreibrodt (subproject F2) together with eight other colleagues present a comparative study on the Mesolithic in the Baltic region. The article results from the session “Riverbanks and Seashores: The Baltic Sea basin and adjacent areas in the Early and Mid-Holocene” which has been part of the international workshop “Socio-Environmental Dynamics over the Last 12,000 Years: The Creation of Landscapes V”, hosted by the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” and the CRC 1266 at Kiel University in 2017.

The article presents different archaeological case studies and discusses influences on the settlement location of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. While climate historic and ethnoarchaeological perspectives are one aspect addressed for understanding variability and facets of prehistoric behaviour, the authors also show and discuss possibilities for remote sensing and archaeoprognosis. The authors stress that a common and comparable data basis is needed to understand transformations during the Mesolithic. Moreover, the authors argument for integrating a divers and differentiated perspective on prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies for understanding and differentiating local and over-regional characteristics.

Figure: Chronology of sites described in the paper. Climate events and phases of the Baltic Sea are shown as well as and palynological chronozones of Northern Central Europe (Groß et al 2018, fig. 2, p. 29).

Groß, D., Zander, A., Boethius, A., Dreibrodt, S., Grøn, O., Hansson, A., Jessen, C., Koivisto, S., Larsson, L., Lübke, H., Nilsson, B., 2018. People, lakes and seashores: Studies from the Baltic Sea basin and adjacent areas in the early and Mid-Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews 185, 27-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.01.021.

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).