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2nd Archaeological Conference of Central Germany

 The Archaeological Conference of Central Germany is organised by the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt. The archaeological conference will take place annually from 2008 and discuss current topics in various lectures. The theme of the 2nd Archaeological conference of Central Germany     is "Anthropology, isotopy and DNA - biographical approach to anonymous prehistoric skeletons?"  from 8th to 10th October in Halle.

 

Anthropology, isotopy and molecular genetics are key subjects for archaeology. Increasingly almost biographical approaches towards prehistoric skeletons are possible. Thus archaeological discoveries in a way become like criminal cases, which through circumstantial evidence can be cleared up more and more completely. This permits detailed incidents to be traced - even for single individuals - as in the case of the Eulau family graves. The results, as in this example, are so exciting and of such general interest, that they gain worldwide attention. Thus TIME magazine voted the Eulau graves amongst the ten most important scientific discoveries of the year 2008.

Various scientific methods were used in the investigation of these skeletons. Through DNA analyses the family relationships could be resolved and so for the first time a nuclear family from the end of the Neolithic verified. Furthermore through oxygen, strontium and nitrogen isotope analyses detailed statements about nutrition habits and regions of origin of the individuals could be gained. Such detailed information on the biography of individual people and family members is unique for the Neolithic.

Methods of this kind have so far not found common use in archaeology. They have quite the potential to revolutionize archaeological research in parts as did dendrochronology or radiocarbon dating before, but one has to reckon with similar initial difficulties. The Eulau graves are an example for the possibilities offered by such investigations for archaeology and therefore are the reason to make these scientific methods the topic of the 2nd Archaeological Conference of Central Germany.

The aim of this three day conference is to discuss, using concrete examples, experiences gained in international research with isotope and DNA analyses. A critical debate on the implementation and interpretation of these research methods shall be thematized and the possibilities, problems and limits for archaeology more strongly defined. Problems of the different scientific fields shall be discussed in interdisciplinary discourse to avoid possible sources of error.