Stymphacore Project (Greece)

photoOne of the key questions to be answered by the project is the relationship between the climate and the historical record in the eastern Mediterranean region with a focus on the Northern Peloponnesus. The aim is to gain sediment records from at least the last 9000 years, i.e. back to the Neolithic. With the combination of different geochemical and geophysical methods we want to reconstruct the spatiotemporal patterns of land use and the effect of climate on the environmental development of the region. Two main questions of the project focus on the balance between sustainability and exploitation: How did the different cultures manage the water resources? And how sustainable was the agricultural land use?

photoClimatically, the region is characterized by the Mediterranean Sea, which represents a relatively large mass of water, and its peculiar geographical location: at mid latitude, on the west side of a large continental area, surrounded by three continents with high mountains ridges, and with a restricted exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. In general the climate exhibits hot and dry summers, and mild and rainy winter seasons. However, within such a small spatial scale there are large climate contrasts as the area includes Alpine regions in the north, with permanent glaciers and relatively high precipitation rates, and subtropical semiarid regions in the south where the extended Atlas mountains ridge also play a major role. Moreover the Mediterranean is a transition zone between midlatitude climate regimes, located at the border of the midlatitude storm tracks, and the tropical climate, located under the descending branch of the Hadley cell. Thus, the Mediterranean is potentially very sensitive to climate change which in turn should be recorded in archives like lake sediments in this region.


  1. project: The environmental history of lake Stymphalia
    Dipl.-Geol. Christian Heymann
    aims to connect climate variability as documented in lacustrine sediment cores with human- and land­scape development in the karst polje of Stymphalia. Settlement activity is known from least the 4th cen­tury BC and described by Pausanias ca. 150 AD. The PhD student establishes time series of climate variables based on detailed 14C dating and different geochemical and geophysical analyses.

  2. project: The environmental history of the Elean coast (Greece)
    Dipl.-Geogr. Elke Hänßler
    aims to connect marine and climate variability as documented in cores from lagoonal lakes and peat bogs with human- and landscape development in the coastal area between Cape Araxos and Pyrgos. Human activity is known since pre-classic times. The PhD student establishes time series of climate variables based on detailed 14C dating and different geochemical and geophysical analyes. Based on the proxies we use it should be possible to detect e.g. periods with increased storminess and sea level fluctuations and to reconstruct the human response to these changes.

  3. project: The literary reception of Stymphalos in Greek and Roman antiquity
    Saskia Hoffmann, M.A. (1st supervisor: Prof. Lutz Käppel)
    deals on the description and perception of the landscape around Stymphalos in the literature of Greek and Roman antiquity. Well known sources are for example Strabo, Pausanias and also Homer. The PhD project accomplishes the interdisciplinary StymphaCore project with the perspective of the humanities. Based on the ancient literary sources, changes in the environment itself and in the use of it by different cultures are sought to be described and possibly even quantified.