Doctoral research student René Ohlrau, M.A.

Doctoral research student

René Ohlrau (Germany, 1987)

M.A. in Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology

PhD project
Development and decline of Trypillian "mega-sites": The case of Maidanets'ke

The focus lies in the Cucuteni-Tripolje culture (CTC) which existed from 4700-3200 BC and extended from the Carpathians (Romania / Rep. Moldova) to the forest-steppe of the Dnieper (Ukraine). For this culture, among other things, centripetal settlements with an extension of up to 320 ha and sometimes more than 2500 houses that date from the period 3900-3200 BC are known. They are among the largest settlements of that period in Eurasia and their emergence and decline is yet poorly understood. To answer questions of rise and fall, the project examines the central settlement chamber between the Bug and Dnieper river, mainly known for their extraordinary large settlements Talianki (320 ha) and Maidanetske (200 ha).

The Project is covering questions such as how large settlements were able to emerge from an economic and a social point of view, what sustained them and in cases of collapses, if ecological or social problems led to the decline of the settlements. These are decisive questions with socio-political relevance in view of modern growth of informal settlements or megacities, in which the analysis of past societies, operating at their limits, could give some important insights.

Research interests Eurasian Prehistory; Settlement Patterns; Geophysics; Intrasite Spatial Analysis; Architectural Sociology; Archaeology of Urbanism; Economic Anthropology.

Since November 2014
Member of the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes at Kiel University

August 2014
Masterthesis: „Tripolje Großsiedlungen. Geomagnetische Prospektion und architektursoziologische Perspektiven“.

2012 - 2014
Studies in Pre- and Protohistory at Kiel University.

February 2012
Bachelorthesis: „Strukturen und Funktionen hallstattzeitlicher Flachlandsiedlungen in Süddeutschland“.

2008 - 2012
Studies in Pre- and Protohistory with minor subject biological sciences at Kiel University.

Work experience

2011 - 2014
Student research assistent at the Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University.

August - September 2013
Excavation of Tripolian Megasites.

February 2013
Geomagnetic survey of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Hungary and Slovakia.

September 2012
Geomagnetic survey of Tripolian Megasites in Ukraine.

February - March 2012
Internship at the Archaeological State Museum Schleswig-Holstein.

July - September 2011
Excavation of a late Neolithic Enclosure and 3D-Modelling of a Megalithic Tomb in Hundisburg, Sachsen-Anhalt.

2010 - 2011
Research assistent at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen.

September 2010
Geomagnetic survey of the Germanic and Raetian Limes.

August - October 2009
Excavation of a Bronze Age burial mound in Bredenbek.

Selected publications

Ohlrau, R., Modelling “mega-site” development. To appear in: Pelisiak, A., Nakoinz, O. Diachenko, A (eds.), Recent advances in Archaeodemography (Springer).

In print
Ohlrau, R., Rud. V., Testing Trypillian site development via geomagnetic survey. New “mega-structures“ and plans of smaller sites. In: D. Mischka, C. Mischka, C. Preoteasa (eds.), Beyond excavation. Geophysics, aerial photography and the use of drones in Eastern and South-east European archaeology (Piatra-Neamţ).

Müller et al. 2017, J. Müller, R. Hofmann, W. Kirleis, S. Dreibrodt, R. Ohlrau, L. Brandtstätter, M. Dal Corso, W. Out, K. Rassmann, N. Burdo, M. Videiko. Maidanetske 2013. New excavations at a Trypillia mega-site. Studien zur Archäologie in Ostmitteleuropa 16 (Bonn 2017).

R. Ohlrau, M. Dal. Corso, W. Kirleis, J. Müller, Living on the Edge? Carrying Capacities of Trypillian Settlements in the Buh-Dnipro Interfluve. In: J. Müller, K. Rassmann, M. Videiko (eds.), Trypillia Mega-sites and European Prehistory: 4100-3400 BCE. Themes in contemporary archaeology 2 (London 2016) 207-220.

J. Müller, R. Hofmann, L. Brandtstätter, R. Ohlrau, M. Videiko, Chronology and Demography: How Many People Lived in a Mega-Site? In: J. Müller, K. Rassmann, M. Videiko (eds.), Trypillia Mega-sites and European Prehistory: 4100-3400 BCE. Themes in contemporary archaeology 2 (London 2016) 133-169.

J. Müller, R. Hofmann, R. Ohlrau, From Domestic Households to Mega-Structures: Proto-Urbanism? In: J. Müller, K. Rassmann, M. Videiko (eds.), Trypillia Mega-sites and European Prehistory: 4100-3400 BCE. Themes in contemporary archaeology 2 (London 2016) 253-268.

Рудь et al. 2016, В. Рудь, Р. Улрау, О. Манігда, Геомагнітна Зйомка Та Географічне Моделювання У Вивченні Поселення Трипільської Культури Тростянчик. Рятівна Археологічиа Служба 2, 2016, 55-76.

Ohlrau, R. 2015, Tripolje Großsiedlungen. Geomagnetische Prospektion und architektursoziologische Perspektiven. Journal of Neolithic Archaeology 17, 2015, 17-99.

K. Rassmann, R. Ohlrau, R. Hofmann, C. Mischka, N. Burdo, M. Videiko, J. Müller, High precision Tripolye settlement plans, demographic estimations and settlement organization. Journal of Neolithic Archaeology 16, 2014, 96-134.