Sarah Diers, Alumni


Sarah Diers (Germany, 1982)

Dipl.-Prähist. in Pre- and Protohistory, Anthropology, Botany/Ecology

PhD project
Vegetation History of the Western Altmark with Special Emphasis on the Human Impact in the Neolithic (working title).
Before 4000 BC North Central Europe was mainly covered by deciduous woodland. The focus of my research project deals with how the first farmers in this region - members of Funnel Beaker societies - interacted with and changed this environment and thereby created new landscapes. In particular, my PhD project analyses changes in local landscape patterns during the course of the Funnel Beaker Culture in the Altmark region, Germany and is part of the interdisciplinary DFG research project “Megalithlandschaften in der westlichen Altmark: Mittelneolithische Siedlungsmuster einer Kleinregion mit Großsteinanlagen”.

The investigation of a micro-region measuring 12 x 15 km in Northern Germany unveiled human-environmental interactions in the course of the fourth millennium BC. The micro-regional studies show a spatial landscape structure. The distribution of known settlements and graves differs significantly. Whereas settlements were mainly found in the lowlands near rivers and rivulets, the impressive megalithic tombs were frequently built on slopes.

Within the project my research focuses on pollen data as proxies for local Neolithic vegetation history in comparison to regional changes. Pollen profiles from fens and bogs of different size in small river valleys provide insight into such regional vegetation change. Therefore, one aim of the palynological investigations was to reconstruct the environmental history of the micro-region throughout the Funnel Beaker period (4100-2800 BC) in comparison to its surroundings and other TRB settlement areas. Special emphasis is placed on the potentiality of megalithic tomb visibility. The TRB period is observed in relation to previous as well as to subsequent times, e.g. the period of the Corded Ware Culture.

Results of the palynological record for the wider region show a higher human impact than the results of the local pollen record near megalithic tombs. Human pressure on the landscape in the research area was moderate with several small clearings for settlements and mixed farming. The woodland was used by the inhabitants of the area for wood pasture and for timber as an important resource. Taking the geoarcheological results of recent excavations of megalithic tombs in the working area into account, it can be assumed that the tombs were not situated in open surroundings in the course of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. From this it can be concluded that megalithic tombs in the region were mainly important for ritual ancestral worship of the social groups of the area. The visibility of megalithic tombs for other groups was only of minor importance or had no significance for the erection of the graves.
Research interests Archaeobotany, vegetation history, vegetation change, human-environments-interaction, nature preservation, pollen, spores, NPPs, macrofossils, charcoal and wood, archaeology, TRB culture, geoarchaeology, modelling and reconstructing ancient environments and landscapes.

Since 2007
Research assistant in the DFG (German Research Council) - project “the Megalithic landscape in the Altmark”.
Associated member of the Graduate School „Human Development in Landscapes“ at the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel.

Visiting student at the National University of Ireland, Galway: archaeology, botany.

2002 - 2007
Studies at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel: pre- and protohistory, anthropology, botany.

2001 - 2002
University of Hamburg: pre- and protohistory, anthropology, cultural anthropology.

Work experience

Since 2007
Research assistant in the DFG-Project “megalithic landscape of the Altmark” at the Institute for pre- and protohistory, CAU Kiel.

Student assistant of the DFG project “Bruszczewo” – an early Bronze Age fortified settlement.

Student assistant of the Institute for pre- and protohistory.

Several excavations and corings.

Selected publications

2009 (in press)
D. Demnick, S. Diers, H.-R. Bork, B. Fritsch, J. Müller, H. Kroll, E. Tafel: Das Großsteingrab Lüdelsen 3 in der westlichen Altmark (Sachsen-Anhalt) - Vorbericht zur Ausgrabung 2007. Jahresschrift Halle 2008 (accepted in July 2008).

2008 (in press)
S. Diers, D. Demnick, B. Fritsch, J. Müller: Megalithlandschaft Altmark – ein neues Projekt zu Großsteingräbern und Siedlungsmustern in der Altmark. In: B. Ramminger (Hrsg.), AG Neolithikum der Altertumsverbände in Schleswig 2007. Varia Neolithica.

2008 (in press)
S. Diers, Feinstratigraphie und Chronologie: Archäologische und palynologische Analysen. Eine Fallstudie zum Fundplatz Bruszczewo 5 in Großpolen. In: Bruszczewo II.

S. Diers, „Zum alten Eisen“ - eine archäologische Ausstellung. Starigard - Jahresbericht des Fördervereins des Instituts für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel 6, 2005, 99-102.