WG Soil and archaeology

C. Ahl

WG Soil and archaeology


Extensive earthwork operations take place every day during all kinds of construction works. Archaeological monuments are often affected, which means that they are documented during  archaeological excavations. These excavations are conducted under the guidance of archaeological heritage offices of the respective federal states, which can rarely offer expertise in soil science. The same applies to universities that also carry out excavations as part of research projects. On almost all of these archaeological excavations, whether in the countryside or in the city, archaeologists are asked questions that require such pedological expertise. On the other hand, excavations create excellent soil exposures, which enable soil scientists to study current soil formation, (pre-)historic soil conditions, pedogenetic processes and anthropogenic influences in a larger context.


Top left: Profile sections in the Profen opencast mine, Saxony-Anhalt; top right: step profile in the Garzweiler opencast mine, Rhineland. Bottom left: Neolithic findings in a gas pipeline trench near Aachen, Rhineland; bottom right: Bronze Age trenches on the ICE route near Oechlitz, Saxony-Anhalt

Photos: R. Gerlach, LVR


Excavations often reveal pedological findings that are not mentioned in any textbook, and that raise new questions about pedogenesis and human-environment interactions with a possible focus both on archaeological and pedological research. The first scientific goal of the working group is, therefore, to reconstruct the status of prehistoric soils since the Neolithic based on the comprehensive characterization of archaeological soil remains from archaeological findings. To reach this goal, we apply field work, micromorphology, soil chemical and physical methods, in professional exchange with archaeology, archaeobotany and anthropology and other disciplines.

 Our activities include:

• Participation in DBG meetings

• Participation in archaeological conferences

• Annual meetings at a current archaeological excavation (excavation excursion)

• Initiation and publication of archaeological and soil science research projects

• Discussion forum on archaeopedological questions


The Soil and Archeology working group meets alternately at a soil science or an archaeological conference. We are also represented at conferences and workshops on archaeopedological topics.


29.11.-01.12.2023: International Colloquium "Reading the Soil in Archaeology: Field Practice and Interdisciplinary Perspectives", Tours (France).


02.-08.09.2023: DBG conference, Halle, joint session of the Soil and Archeology Working Group and the Palaeopedology Working Group.


23.-24.02.2023: Workshop on the black earth complex in Straubing, organized by Prof. Jörg Völkel (TUM) and Prof. Günther Moosbauer (Gäubodenmuseum Straubing).



Prof. Dr. Renate Gerlach


LVR-Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland

Endenicher Str. 133, 53115 Bonn


Dr. Mechthild Klamm 


Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt

Richard-Wagner-Str. 9, 06114 Halle


Prof. Dr. Eileen Eckmeier


Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Institut für Ökosystemforschung

Olshausenstr. 75, 24118 Kiel

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