Johanna Mestorf Award 2015 goes to Ancient Historian


Today (March 24, 2015), ancient historian Silvia Balatti receives the Kiel Johanna Mestorf Award for outstanding dissertations in the field of human-environmental research and landscape archaeology. The prize, endowed with 3,000 €, is issued by the Johanna Mestorf Academy and the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes at Kiel University.


Johanna Mestorf Award handover 2015

Silvia Balatti (second from left) received the Johanna Mestorf Award 2015 from the hands of Professor Lutz Käppel. Dr Mara Weinelt and Professor Johannes Müller (from left) were the first to congratulate her.

Silvia Balatti is the first alumna of the Graduate School who has been awarded this prize. She received her PhD for her dissertation on “Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East: The Case of the Zagros in the 1st Millennium BC”, an analysis on the socio-political organisation and the way of life of the mountain peoples of the Zagros (now Iran) in the first century BC. In addition to inscriptions from the area of research and writings of Greek and Roman authors, the results of pollen analyses also flowed into the findings of her dissertation in order to reconstruct the former environmental conditions. “Ms. Balatti’s dissertation is a major step forward for Assyriologists, archaeologists and historians alike”, stated Professor Dr. Lutz Käppel in his laudatory speech during the award ceremony. Included in the results, continued Prof. Käppel, are insights about the surprising plurality of lifestyles between climatic, economic and political processes instead of results about an expected tight central government with mperial influences.


After completing her doctorate, Silvia Balatti continues her research as a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Classical Antiquity Studies, Kiel University. She is investigating ancient environmental conditions in south-western Iranian Fars within a joint German-French project.


The Johanna Mestorf Award is named after the first female professor of Prussia. Johanna Mestorf (born 1828 in Bramstedt, †1909 in Kiel) had a significant impact on archaeological research. As of 1868, she worked in the Museum of National Antiquities in Kiel. The award, which has been endowed in her name, is being granted this year for the second time. In 2013, the classical archaeologist Sabine Neumann (Munich) shared the award with the anthropologist Katherine Mary Grillo (USA).


Text & Photo: Jirka N. Menke