CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

Cluster A: “Theory and Modelling”

Therory and Modelling
Interlinkage with CRC projects involves the development of specific middle range theories on transformation, the link to A2 (“modelling”) the consequence.

Cluster A is divided in two sub-projects (A1, A2), which are embedded in the research environment of focus 1. It addresses key issues on transformation theories to develop middle range theories with respect to human-environmental interaction and provides operational models.

A1: Theories of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies

A2: Integrative Modelling of Socio-Environmental System Dynamics

Theory and application encompass the work on theoretical foundations and methodological procedures of modelling within the CRC from a philosophical and from a practical perspective.

The concepts of social transformation and crisis, of practice, structure and agency, of temporality, and material culture are the starting points for the philosophical approach. The modelling project also focuses on the conceptualization of different scales of social transformations and crises, but concentrates more on practical applications, the relationship between concepts and data, controlled complexity-reduction, as well as the provision of formalized procedures, quantifications, and simulations.

The agendas of the projects in Cluster A focus on the analysis of the different theoretical starting points and methods, encourage and moderate interdisciplinary discussions, bring concepts together, confront, reconcile, engage and balance premises, methods, models, interpretations and conclusions, and thus contribute to the creation of a coherent discourse embedding the different disciplines. To this end, the projects in Cluster A are not narrowed down to single philosophical or methodological agendas, but their objective is to approach and deal with central concepts from explicitly different perspectives and to actively engage with the other projects in the CRC.


The investigation of theories on transformation in prehistoric & archaic societies will take up starting points of environmental, cultural & social theories to identify basic theoretical approaches on the use of methodologies & on interpretation patterns.

In project A1, the theoretical conceptualization of the complex archaeological and palaeo-environmental factors influencing transformation processes of prehistoric and archaic societies will be developed. Middle range theories will be generated in close exchange with the other CRC projects to link the information of archaeological and palaeo-environmental archives with socio-environmental interpretations on transformation dynamics.

Based on the theoretical concepts of project A1, the modelling project leads to the development of an integrative modelling framework to analyse and simulate the spatial and temporal dynamics of transformation, adaptation and reorganization processes in human-nature environments of prehistoric and archaic societies. Based on the data and the expert knowledge gained for the different focus regions of this CRC, conceptual and computerized models will be set up in order to simulate the spatio-temporal patterns of development and change processes in human-organized landscapes.