Prehistoric Phenomena


(© OREA)

From the Holocene to the beginning of the Metal Ages (c. the 10th to the 3rd millennium BC) crucial changes in human society and lifeways took place in the vast area extending from the Middle East to southeastern Europe. These developments include the profound and long lasting change towards the oldest sedentary agricultural cultures of the Neolithic period and the incipient shaping of the natural environment by humans associated with a fundamental change of communal organisational structures. This process of Neolithisation proceeds regionally differently and starts between c. 9500 and 6000 calBC. The changes of socio-cultural structures of these early farming communities until the formation of early proto-urban communities during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age period reflect a fundamental shift which is evidenced by the appearance of various, simultaneous innovations. The development and adoption of essential technologies is tightly connected with the management of resources whose use again varies regionally. The Metal Ages, defined by regional differences, are related to the phenomena of centralisation, specialisation and new dynamics of mobility. These fundamental processes of the human history are investigated by an interdisciplinary methodological approach on a supra-regional level. The aim is the development of models on the basis of new, primary datasets which are gained by own field investigations.

Area of Investigation


The phenomena of Neolithisation, centralisation, resource management, technologies and innovations are a key focus of a number of research projects. These are, moreover, regionally and supra-regionally contextualised in the framework of communication systems and networks. The civilizational core zones of the Old World are the focus of Prehistoric Phenomena. The individual cultural regions include the Fertile Crescent (Iran, Turkey), the Levant (Lebanon), the Arabian Peninsula (UAE), the Aegean (Greece) and the Balkans (Serbia, FYROM). Besides own field investigations in these regions, individual case studies are imbedded in various cooperations within broad international research projects.

The range of methods includes excavations, surveys and landscape analysis as well as material studies combined with geoarchaeological disciplines (paleogeography, geophysics, and geology), radiocarbon dating, zoology, anthropology, botanics, anthracology, metallurgy, aDNA, petrography/mineralogy, geochemical analyses (i.e. NAA, pXRF, pLA-ICP-MS), and computer simulations/data modelling.

Current field investigations and material studies


At present, field investigations and their analyses take place at the following sites:

  • Turkey
    Çukuriçi Höyük, Arvalya Höyük, Ekşi Höyük, Pergamon and Bakırcay Valley
  • Greece
    Platia Magoula Zarkou, Pheneos, Midea, Paliambela
  • Serbia
    Svinjarička Čuka, Pusta Reka Region
  • Lebanon
    Chekka Region
  • Iran
    Sirvan Valley
  • United Arab Emirates
    Kalba (from January 2019)

Projects