My research focuses on the geoarchaeological investigation of archaeological site formation. I view and analyze sediments, deposits and features as archives of paleoenvironments as well as of human behavior and I study these archives with geoarchaeological means. My main research techniques are micromorphology and (m)FTIR, but I am always interested in expanding my geoarchaeological tool kit with supplementary methods and collaborations. I collaborate with geoarchaeologists performing optically-stimulated luminescence, thermoluminescence and U-series dating, organic petrology, ancient DNA analysis, speleothem analysis, isotopes and chemical analysis.
My archaeological scope is broad with a focus on Hunter Gather sites ranging from the Lower Paleolithic (Bilzingsleben, Schöningen), to Middle, Upper and transitional sites (Ein Qashish, Resava Project, TDASP Project, Satsurblia, Grabow) as well as Middle and Later Stone Age sites in South Africa (Varsche Rivier 003, Mertenhof, Klipfonteinrand, Faraoskop). I am also curious about the geoarchaeological signature of early sedentary life in the Epipaleolithic (Baaz) and early urbanization (Teotihuacan).
I am particularly interested in the following three research areas:
(1) site formation
(2) sediments as artifacts and
(1) Site formation. The reconstruction of cultural, natural and post-depositional site formation processes constitutes the basis of my research. I am mainly concerned with the sedimentary context and the integrity of the archaeological record here.
(2) Sediments as artifacts. Archaeological deposits and features are artifacts, created by human activities and my research is mainly concerned with two artifact categories, construction materials and combustion features. I analyze construction materials, such as floor constructions, to investigate economy and settlement patterns. Regarding combustion features, I am interested in the role fire that played in our evolutionary history. More specifically, I am exploring to what extent combustion features, site maintenance activities and sedimentation can inform us on occupation intensity and, in extension, on mobility and demography.
(3) Human-environment-interactions. I am interested in the question of how and to what extent past environments shaped human behavior and how we can reconstruct their complex interaction. My starting point for this is the microstratigraphic study of archaeological deposits, which preserve evidence for both categories and also link the two. From there I continue to the landscape scale, using speleothems and paleosols as paleoenvironmental archives.