Centers of Excellence and permanent collaboration
Arbeitsgruppe ArchaeoScience im Rahmen des vom Land Rheinland-Pfalz geförderten Exzellenzclusters Geo Cycles
Human Cultures and Earth systems: The meaning of crises in the sociocultural evolution
The work group is part of the Excellence Cluster GeoCycles, sponsored by the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The interdisciplinary “ArchaeoScience” research group interlinks the approved main focuses in the fields of archaeology, anthropology and geosciences. Excellence in the single fields is concentrated in Mainz at the Johannes Gutenberg University, the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum and the Mainz College of Applied Sciences e.g. in Archaeology, the analysis of ancient DNA, 14C calibration, analysis of Sr/O-isotopes, palaeoclimatology, geoinformatics and anthropogeomorphology. The single disciplines have already been internationally distinguished. Through the development of the “ArchaeoScience” research group, Mainz will continue to be recognized as an important center for studies on interactions between humans and nature.
The members of the “ArchaeoScience”research group analyze the impacts of past crises and catastrophes on human communities. In the past, crises were as different as they are today – they represent an integral part of life on earth. As turning points in the development of culture and the environment, crises and catastrophes are fundamental elements in the environment as well as in human history. To an increasing degree, human development was advanced by the necessity to adapt to anthropogenetic crises in the environment. Crises are followed by phases of intensive innovations: various strategies for crisis management are developed, some of which work effectively and long-term. The work of interdisciplinary research groups will concentrate on three different turning points in the human history:
1) Extreme changes of environmental conditions between 40.000 and 10.000 years B.C.: Adaption or Extinction. This project will examine changes in the environmental conditions – from arctic deserts to dense deciduous forest – which, since the advent of modern man in Europe about 40,000 years ago, have taken place. One of the most important elements within this project is the compilaton of a new database with new 14C data from western Eurasia. This data will be important for a number of disciplines like archaeology, palaeogenetics, palaeontology and palaeobotany.
2) The beginning of the production of food in the early Holocene and the crisis of the first agrarian cultures (8000-4000 BC). During the Holocene, a culture of sedentary farmers emerged. This settlement was connected with changes in social organisation. The new way of life comprised new risks: excess of population, the necessity of storing and protecting food, a growing dependence on climate conditions. One main study will focus on the mechanism of adaption on the new way of life: models of the migration and amalgamation of populations on the basis of a DNA- and Sr-Isotopes analyses. A second exploratory study will concentrate on the collapse of the first agrarian cultures and the evidence of violence and warfare, possibly in connection with a climate change.
3) Climate Change and Migration during the Iron Age (1200-400 BC). After the adaption of a new technology based on the processing of iron, Europe and the Middle East were hit by crises of a decrease in population and migration. The reasons for this can only be established by modern interdisciplinary research. The main scientific focus will concentrate on the celtici migration of about 400 BC and its possible connection with climate deterioration.