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Mareike Cordula Stahlschmidt

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Evolution
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: 0049 (0) 341 3550 368
fax: 0049 (0) 341 3550 399
e-mail:  mareike_stahlschmidteva.mpgde

Research Interests
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

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
(3) human-environment-interactions.

(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.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Information

Current Position
2017-presentPost-Doctoral Researcher
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Previous Positions
2015-2017Post-Doctoral Researcher
University College Dublin
2010-2015Doctoral Student, Researcher and Lecturer
University of Tübingen


2014 Dr. rer. nat.
Institute for Archaeological Sciences,
University of Tübingen, Germany
thesis title: ”Micromorphological analyses and site formation processes at the archaeological sites Schöningen, Grabow, Blätterhöhle, Germany, and Varsche Rivier 003, South Africa”
2010Magistra Artium
Institute of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, University of Tübingen, and Hohenheim University, Germany;
Major Archaeology, Minors Soil Science and Paleoanthropology;
thesis title: “Site formation and a prehistoric floor construction in Baaz, southwest Syria”
2007Undergraduate studies of Prehistory and Soil Science
at Hamburg University, Germany.

Organized Symposia/ Sessions

2018 Mallol, C.E. Miller, M.C. Stahlschmidt. Fire as an artifact: Advances in Paleolithic Combustion Structure Studies. Session at the XVIII UISPP Meeting in Paris, France
2017Organizing committee. Irish Quaternary Association Spring Meeting. Dublin, Ireland.
2014M. C. Stahlschmidt, C.E. Miller. The Archaeology of Early Fire Use. Session at the XVII UISPP Meeting in Burgos, Spain.

Awards and Grants

2017 Seed Funding - Dissemination and Outputs,
University College Dublin
2016 Young Micromorphologist Publication Award,
International Union of Soil Sciences
2016-2017 New Interdisciplinary Initiative Fund grant,
University College Dublin
2015-2017 Irish Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship,
University College Dublin
2013-2015 Athene-Programm,
University of Tübingen

Media Coverage

2016 Interview in Hahn, P. 2016.
Spears of the Ancient Huntsman.
Popular Archaeology.
2014Interview in Balter, M. 2014.
The killing ground.
Science 344, 6188, 1080-1083.


  • Arbeitskreis Geoarchäologie (Geoarchaeology working group)
  • European Society for the Study of Human Evolution
  • Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte (GfU - Society for Prehistory)
  • Hugo-Obermaier-Gesellschaft für Erforschung des Eiszeitalters und der Steinzeit e.V. – (Society for the Study of the Glacial Age and Stone Age)
  • Society for African Archaeologists
  • Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques
  • Working Group for archaeological soil micromorphology


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