BioarcCaucasus : Mobility, migration and demographic change in the Bronze Age of North Caucasia
Third-party funded project
Project title BioarcCaucasus : Mobility, migration and demographic change in the Bronze Age of North Caucasia
Principal Investigator(s) Pichler, Sandra
Project Members Gerling, Claudia
Siliezar, Alicia
Berger, Raphael
Berezina, Natalia
Alt, Kurt
Organisation / Research unit Departement Umweltwissenschaften / Integrative Prähistorische und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (IPNA)
Project start 01.04.2016
Probable end 31.03.2018
Status Active

From the 19th century onwards, the Indo-European expansion has been a grand historical narrative telling that during the 3rd millennium BC pastoral nomads migrated in several waves from the Pontic steppes into the West. The image of highly mobile groups riding on horses, using wagons pulled by oxen, and burying their dead in monumental mounds is supported by the virtual absence of settlements in the pre-Caucasian steppe. It is, however, also biased by the knowledge of impressive historical invasions and 20th century political conflicts. The objective of the proposed study is to critically review the expansionist image of the Eurasian Bronze Age and to challenge its central paradigm – the existence of large scale migrations in the pre-Caucasian steppe. An international team of scholars from Russia, Germany, and Switzerland will conduct interdisciplinary research at the borderline of the humanities and sciences. The study will integrate archaeological investigations and modern bioarchaeological research on skeletal remains including stable isotope analyses of strontium, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen in human teeth and bones and anthropological procedures, such as palaeopathology and the analysis of skeletal activity markers. The proposed research will be conducted using a huge collection of well documented skeletal series, excavated and stored according to modern standards by the department of antiquities GUP „Nasledie“ in the Stavropol' Region, Russia. Their quantity and excellent preservation will ensure a representative selection based on archaeological and environmental criteria. Moreover, the study will draw on archaeological and modern specimens to establish isotope ratio comparative maps (isoscapes) of the chemical elements under investigation. The project will foster international collaboration, method development and disclose past mobility patterns using evidence that is independent of burial rituals, ideologies, and images derived from modern history.

Keywords Bronze Age, Indo European expansion, Migration, Dietary reconstruction, Stabe isotope analyses, Caucasus region
Financed by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Cooperations ()

  ID Kreditinhaber Kooperationspartner Institution Laufzeit - von Laufzeit - bis
3571716  Pichler, Sandra  Hansen, Svend Prof. Dr.  DAI Berlin - Eurasia Department  01.04.2016  31.03.2018 
3571717  Pichler, Sandra  Buzhilova, Alexandra Prof. Dr.  Lomonosov University Moscow - Anuchin Research Institute  01.04.2016  31.03.2018 
3491821  Pichler, Sandra  Knipper, Corina, Dr.  Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie Mannheim  01.10.2015  31.03.2018 
3227138  Pichler, Sandra  Krause, Johannes, Prof. Dr.  Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte Jena  01.01.2015  31.03.2018 
3703496  Pichler, Sandra  Belinsky, Andrej Dr. Head of GUP Nasledie  Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Stavropol  01.04.2016  31.03.2018 

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