Prehistoric Conflict Research – Bronze Age Hillforts between the Taunus and Carpathian Mountains

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Social models of late Bronze Age societies

The theoretical framework for reconstructing Bronze Age social structures is set by two contemporary discourses in Bronze Age research: One refers to the Aegean Bronze Age as the starting point of a stepwise development of centralization and concentration of power that radiated as far as Europe and finally culminated in the person of a potent autocrat or an ‘elite’. The other discourse that can be labelled as ‘beyond elites’ is directed against an exclusive fixation of traditional Bronze Age research on the members of ‘elites’.


Picture: Petroglyph from the Nordic Bronze Age at Taunum, Bohuslän, Sweden (photograph: R. Krause)

Stuttgarter psalter  146v zugesch neu

Fortifications and warrior groups in the political culture of the Carolingian era

The mediaevel sub-project within the LOEWE focal point has a dual task. On one hand, in common with the sociological sub-project, we serve as a point of contact for the archaeological projects whenever socio-cultural formations are modelled from archaeological finds.


Picture: Stuttgart Psalter (Wurttemberg State Library, Stuttgart, Bibl. Fol. 23), c. 820/20, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, fol. 146v: Illustration on Ps. 127 (Nisi Dominus)

Ipf bronze  und hallstattzeitliche befestigungen gipfelplat 2 1 neu

Excavations and field projects, prospection and remote sensing

Roman forts and medieval castles are still prominent in Europe’s cultural landscapes. It is, however, little known and subject to further scientific investigation that people have been erecting fortified settlements with strong walls ever since the Early Bronze Age. Since the turn of the 17th to the 16th century BC, these fortifications served both as protection against attackers and as nuclei of power from which territories and transport routes could be controlled.

Picture: Summit plateau of Mount Ipf at Bopfingen with fortifications from the Bronze and Iron Age (photograph: R. Krause)

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Vegetation history, Landscape evolution

The focus of palaeoecological studies in the Hessian Uplands is on the reconstruction of vegetation and environment in the periphery of fortified hill settlements. Archaeobotanical investigations will be carried out in the Taunus and Rhön Mountains (Fulda area) in order to reveal changes in landscape structure and land use. In combination with geoarchaeological research the intensity of land use will be reconstructed to understand the economic bases and forms of resource management in the immediate surroundings of the hillforts.

Picture: View from Mount Bleibeskopf into the Rhein-Main plain (photograph: L. Bringemeier)

Events und Workshops