Environmental History and Archives

Photo core drilling on tidal land, Pellworm

As well as being a part of nature, man stands in a relationship of exchanges with nature. Environmental history concerns itself with this relationship and its role throughout the course of human history. An extension of this definition would include man's perception and interpretations of nature that have varied according to epoch. Man finds himself in a state of tension between Nature, of which he is a product, and Culture, which is the product of his own thinking and behavior. Environmental history probes this tension, impelling itself by means of investigative questions arising between the natural sciences and the humanities.

Photo fieldwork, Pellworm

In order to reconstruct environmental histories of the highly varied regions of the earth, the reference point for the junior research groups lies quite clearly in the natural sciences. A prominent role is played by radiometric C14 dating, especially for age-depth-models of sediment bodies and for chronology modeling of cultural phases. High resolution C14-dating is a basic principle for correlating environmental data (lake sediment cores or alluvial terraces, for example) with historical sources (written records, maps, or paintings) that often provide very precise dating. Another methodical focus lies in high resolution, geochemical methods of analysis, in XRF-scans of sediment cores, for example.

Geographically, the group is concentrating on the eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, and on South America.


Members of the Department

The research group together with colleagues of the Peloponnese-Project
The research group together with colleagues of the Peloponnese-Project


Master Thesis (open positions)

  • Investigating the quaternary palaeoenvironment of the northern Peloponnesus (Greece) more
  • The Enviornmental History of Alpine micro bogs

Master Thesis (running/completed)

  • Sebastian Block Munguia: Where are the fossils? Modelling the distribution of the Late Pleistocene Sahul fauna. (completed: 2015)
  • Sina Danehl: Anthropogenic interference in the marine ecosystem of the Galápagos – Conflicts and apporaches with focus on fisheries (completed: 2014)
  • Thomas Dünwald: The influence of the fungicide use in soils and aquatic sediments. Case study the Aetoliko Lagoon, Western Greece (completed: 2016)
  • Scott Fick: A Field Guide to the Quaternary Environment of the Northern Peloponnese (completed: 2016)
  • Michael Follath: Climate experience – Experience climate: A holistic approach within the framework of the 'Sylter Klimatage 2015' to contribute to the continuation of the UN-decade education for sustainable development (completed: 2015)
  • Joshua Kiesel: Comparing total and diffusive oxygen uptake rates of shelf and deep sea sediments from the Arctic Ocean. (abgeschlossen 2016)
  • Theresa Warnk: Microbogs as palaeo-environmental archives of the central Alps (completed: 2015)
  • Tim Zapletan: The Holocene develpoment of Lake Winderatter See and the Kielstau Catchment (completed: 2016)


  • Peloponnese
    Transformations in Early Greek Societies and Landscapes (SFB1266-TP-E1). more
  • Alps
    Climate, Environment and Human impact in the Central Alps during the Holocene. more
  • Paddysoil
    14C AMS as a tracer to study carbon dynamics resulting from paddy management. more