New Collaborative Research Centre at Kiel University with an Archaeological Viewpoint on Transformations


DFG grants 12 million Euros for research on human-environmental interactions in prehistoric and archaic societies

A great success has been achieved for cutting-edge research in Schleswig-Holstein: The German Research Foundation (DFG) has decided to support the new collaborative research centre (SFB) 1266 “Scales of Transformation” in the next four years with a total of 12 million Euros. This was announced today (Wednesday, 25 May) by the DFG in Bonn. Thirty scientists from eight institutes, the Johanna-Mestorf-Academy of Kiel University, the Centre of Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology and the Archaeological State Museum Gottorf Castle will participate in the collaborative project. Numerous new positions for scientific researchers, excavations and laboratory analyses will be funded by the SFB 1266.

Erection of a megalithic tomb on campus of Kiel University in April 2015.

Reaching great aims together – Just as the construction of a megalithic tomb in May 2015, the successful SFB application was also teamwork. The focus of Kiel archaeological research is placed on Neolithic and Bronze Age communities. This research will be continued in the SFB 1266. (Photo: Schüßler/ CAU)

“We are all very delighted that our application – as the first cultural studies funding proposal in ca. 25 years to be approved for the CAU – has proven to be successful”, stated SFB spokesperson Professor Dr. Johannes Müller from among the involved scientists. Co-spokesperson, Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis, adds: “Now, we want to immediately commence with our research”. The SFB 1266, with the full title “Scales of Transformation: Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies”, will examine transition processes from 15.000 BC to the beginning of our era. “We are interested in substantial, lasting changes in the interplay between humans and the surrounding environment”, explains Müller. Research concerning societal changes extends from hunter-gatherers to early state formations and from the Palaeolithic camp to the Aegean polis. Geographically, it reaches from the Mediterranean to the Arctic. “The combination of cultural, natural and life science methods in the interdisciplinary SFB was the key to our success”, explains Kirleis.

For CAU President Prof. Dr. Lutz Kipp, the multi-million Euro decision for Kiel is no coincidence: “On behalf of the entire university presidium, I heartily congratulate all those involved in the successful funding proposal!” Kipp regards the DFG grant as evidence of interdisciplinary collaboration at Kiel University that has meanwhile become a nationally recognized trademark: “Particularly, the close cooperation between the humanities and the natural sciences in the new SFB reveals how much potential is dormant in interdisciplinary research approaches. With this grant, the CAU research focus ‘Societal, Environmental, and Cultural Change’ will also be strengthened”, according to Kipp.

SFB spokesperson Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller and co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis present the successful proposal.

Top level research at the megalithic tomb: SFB spokesperson Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller (Archaeology) and co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Wiebke Kirleis (Environmental Archaeology) are pleased that the application for a collaborative research centre has been approved by the DFG. (Photo: Menke/ GSHDL)

Schleswig-Holsteins Minister of Social Affairs, Health, Science and Equality, Kristin Alheit, joins in with her congratulations: “I am very happy for the successful applicants. I also view the new collaborative research centre as an important milestone for a possible Excellence Cluster funding proposal, which will focus on past human-environmental interactions and is to be prepared under the auspices of the CAU within the context of the new Excellence Initiative beginning 2019”, explains Alheit.

The SFB 1266 is structured in 18 subprojects. Each of these subprojects is associated with one of four over-reaching foci: “Theory and Modelling”, “Transformations of socio-economic formations”, “Socio-environmental Components of Change” and “Setting the Frame”. Moreover, there is also a unit each for management and coordination, data management and presentation as well as for the training of young scientists. Excavations and fieldwork from Southern Scandinavia to the Aegean Sea, and from Spain to Ukraine are also planned. After four years, the SFB will be evaluated by the DFG and in the case of success it may be extended for four years; after a re-evaluation possibly for even 8 years.

Jirka Niklas Menke