Marine Simon: Comparisons as a Method in Geography Textbooks: Results from an International Comparative Analysis

by Marine Simon,
University of Cologne

Although comparing tasks are widely used in geography classes, there is neither a framework for their implementation nor a scientific study of their precise use. This presentation aims to present the theoretical framework, the methods and the first results of an international study of 20 textbooks form Germany, France and England. 

In this study, we develop a reliable typology and a framework for the categorisation of comparison tasks’ objectives that can contribute to transform comparison tasks into meaningful tasks aiming at enhancing pupils’ autonomous and critical thinking as well as geographical skills and methods.

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Event Information:

Date, Time:13/01/2020, 14:30 h – 15:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Claire Rambeau: What peat can tell: Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in arid Southern Levant

by Claire Rambeau,
University of Freiburg,

Wetlands are important archives of environmental change, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where sediment or proxy preservation is frequently low. This contribution explores the potential of a small wetland located on the northeastern edge of the Dead Sea, Jordan, in a region presently receiving less than 150 mm/year average rainfall, to record past climate and environmental change. This “desert wetland” probably developed due to the presence of tectonic fractures crossing a local aquifer and allowing its waters to reach the surface. It preserves sediments with various amounts of organic matter – products of in-situ vegetation decomposition – and allogenic (detrital input) / authigenic minerals, resulting in a sometimes complex geochemistry. The main points considered in this contribution are: what are the constraints and potential solutions to establish a reliable age-depth model using radiocarbon dating for such an archive; and how the combination of pollen, charcoal and geochemical data helps us unravel environmental changes for the past ca. 8’000 years in arid/semi-arid Southern Jordan, as well as their potential impact on societies.

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:16/12/2019, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Elham Ghasidian: Southern Caspian Corridor: a biogeographical hominin expansion route

by Elham Ghasidian,
Neanderthal Museum

Recent research on the phylogeny of Neanderthals recognises a division within Neanderthal groups around 150ka suggesting a population turnover is likely to have occurred in the Caucasus. For instance, Neanderthal remains dated ca. 100ka associated with fully fledged Levallois lithic industry were confirmed in the Azokh 1 Cave, at the Lesser Caucasus. This exciting finding, however, raises the questions of whether the Neanderthals impacted on the Southern Caspian Corridor (SCC), which is a geo-ecological continuum of the Caucasus? What role did this SSC play in the world of hominin expansion?

In his expedition to Iran during 1960s, McBurney considered SCC provided the closest and fastest route connecting Europe and Caucasus to the Central Asia and Siberia and any hominin movement from the west might be expected to pass this region en route to the east. In his excavation at Ke’Aram Cave located in SCC he documented Middle Palaeolithic artefacts reminiscent of the Zagros Mousterian which are seen to be closely related to the lithics from Teshik-Tash Cave in Central Asia. McBurney’s conclusion provides grounding for this research project to hypothesize that the SCC, with the dual role of biogeographical corridor of expansion and habitat, witnessed a series of human evolutionary events that occurred at least in MIS 5 and 4 and it aims to go further to suggest the SCC as a potential place of admixture of Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Humans. The exceptional physiogeographic condition of the SCC provided a milder climatic condition making this region highly attractive as a glacial refugium during the cold episodes of MIS 5 and 4 for different hominins, thereby this research also hypothesizes that contemporaneous MP assemblages from western- and eastern-most areas of the corridor represent a high degree of cultural affinity.

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:02/12/2019, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Jonathan Schoenenberg: Geopal – Reconstructing Upper Palaeolithic Land Use Pattern

by Jonathan Schoenenberg,
University of Cologne

Based on the methodology of landform-based biodiversity modelling, which was developed in the project “GIS-based reconstructions of Late Palaeolithic land use patterns of the Northeast-Bavarian low mountain range”, this research aims to the analysis of organic resource potential in the territories of Upper Palaeolithic sites on a European scale. By the synchronous and diachronic comparison of the economic conditions and the landscape-accessibility throughout the Upper Palaeolithic, regional patterns can be identified and insights into the respective land use pattern can be gained. An important role plays the accessibility of the site’s periphery. It is strongly determined by the local topography and ground cover and profoundly influences the economic opportunities that can be exploited by hunter-gatherer groups. A Further aspect of the research is the comparison of European time slices and cultures with the Early Ahmarian in the Levant, to track anatomically modern humans on their way to Europe.

 

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:02/12/2019, 14:45 h – 15:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Elaine Turner: A place for the living or a home for the dead? 100,000 years of Stone Age occupation at Taforalt Cave, Morocco

by Elaine Turner,
Monrepos Archaeological research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution,

With its unparalleled sequence of human occupation spanning well over 100ka, the cave site of Grotte des Pigeons, close to Taforalt in north-east Morocco, plays an important role in our understanding of human evolution and behavioural development. Ongoing investigations at this site have already produced groundbreaking results, such as evidence of the early use of personal adornment at 82ka, high precision AMS dates for the Late Pleistocene Maghreb and the first appearance of the Iberomaurusian as well as details of Iberomaurusian human mortuary behaviour in the remains of perhaps one of the earliest and most extensively used Epipalaeolithic cemeteries in North Africa. In my talk, I will give an overview of the results of our excavations, which began in 2003. In particular, I will trace the way in which game was procured and exploited by the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic occupants of the cave and how, during the Iberomaurusian, animal remains played a significant role in human mortuary practices.

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:18/11/2019, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Timon Netzel: Quantitative climate reconstructions

by Timon Netzel,
University of Cologne

In this talk two quantitative climate reconstructions are presented. One of the reconstructions contains several timeslices (17,000 BP – present) and one gridpoint in space (Lake Prespa). The other reconstruction contains one timeslice (mid-Holocene) and several gridpoints in space (Europe). Both reconstructions are based on several proxies (pollen, macrofossils and speleothems) and new transfer functions. 

 

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:18/11/2019, 14:00 h – 15:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Sebastian Szyja: Mind the Gap – The Westphalian Basin within the context of the resettlement of Europe after the LGM

by Sebastian Szyja,
University of Cologne

The Westphalian Basin lacks evidence of human presence during the Late Upper Palaeolithic (c. 18-14 ka cal BP), which stands in clear contrast to its neighboring regions. To the North, the Hamburgian is present from c. 15 ka cal BP, while the Magdalenian is well known from the Rhine-Meuse and the Elbe-Saale area from around 16 ka cal BP. 

The existence of this “No Man’s Land” between the Magdalenian and Hamburgian settlement zones has been argued before but the different factors, which might have led to this situation have never been critically evaluated. Using data from the two bordering Magdalenian settlement zones (Rhine-Meuse & Elbe-Saale), GIS-based predictive archaeological modeling will be applied to investigate the potential for a Magdalenian occupation in Westphalia according to the topographic and economic conditions. It will then be possible to compare the suitability of the region with the inhabited areas and to answer the question if Magdalenian hunter-gatherers avoided the Westphalian Basin because it was less attractive for them then the surrounding regions.  

Other factors may also be responsible for the fact that no sites from this time period could be found in Westphalia. Therefore, the occurrence of postsedimentary processes like modern land use, sedimentation/erosion and activity of avocational collectors in each region will be evaluated and compared with the predictive archaeological model. These source-filters may dramatically influence site-visibility and skew the archaeological record in the region. By comparison of both settlement pattern analysis and source-filtering we hope to be able to provide better models for explaining the archaeological record visible today. 

 

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:18/11/2019, 14:00 h – 15:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Ron Pinhasi: Progress and new directions in ancient DNA genomics


by Ron Pinhasi,
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna

Ancient DNA has revolutionized the study of migrations and the interactions between past populations. During the past 4  years there was a major increase in the number of genome-wide human aDNA studies, some of which  now provide paleogenomic data for 100s of prehistoric individuals from numerous archaeological cultures. However, the predominant focus of most studies on Eurasian prehistoric cultures has left certain temporal and geographic gaps. There is also a growing concern regarding the damage is caused by most current bone sampling methods to various skeletal collections. The talk will report address these aspects by discussing the following : (1) new sampling methods which minimize damage to skeletal collections and/or optimize ancient DNA yields, (2) studies of prehistoric cultures from non-temperate world regions,  and (3) our new results on the genetic legacy of the Roman Empire.

 

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:04/11/2019, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Markus Fischer: Between Deserts and Lakes in southern Ethiopia – Modelling Environmental Dynamics for the African Humid Period

by Markus Fischer,
Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Section Geosciences, AG Mikropalaeoontology

The Ethiopian rift in eastern Africa is known for its diverse landscape, ranging from arid and semi-arid savannahs to high and lush mountainous regions, where anatomically modern humans were present since at least 195 ka BP. Lacustrine sediments and paleo-shorelines near-by modern shallow lakes in the rift indicate that lakes have fluctuated dramatically in the past between deep fresh water lakes, to shallow highly alkaline lakes, down to completely desiccated lakes and thus moisture availability was not constant over time. In order to understand the impact and feedback of different paleoenvironmental changes due to a changing climate (e.g. vegetation, lake sizes) in southern Ethiopia, we here present a comprehensive study that focuses on the time between 15,000 and 5,000 years, a well-known time called the last African Humid Period (AHP). This time period was not only climatically completely different to today, also a big cultural shift occurred during this time. Here we present an interdisciplinary approach that links environmental modelling with lacustrine sediment analysis. This includes a comprehensive hydro-balance modelling approach of multiple rift lakes from the southern Ethiopian Rift (Abaya, Chamo, Chew Bahir) providing insights into paleo-precipitation conditions and lake dynamics.  This model is supported by the use of Sr-Isotopes measured on microfossils from drill core sediments to reconstruct water connectivity between the investigated lakes and to backtrack annual precipitation amounts. The model outcome is then used to model paleo-vegetation dynamics using remote sensing based boosted regression trees under different assumptions of paleo-seasonality changes. This model is supported by phytolith analysis from the drill core sediments. The results suggest that an increase in precipitation of 20-30% throughout the whole Southern Ethiopian Rift was necessary to fill quickly the deepest of the investigated lakes, Lake Chew Bahir, to its overflow level, but also small changes in the water budget allowed the lake to disappear within decades. This study highlights a) the sensitivity of the rift lakes to even moderate climate changes, b) that slight seasonal precipitation changes can have a huge impact, and c) that hydrological connection plays an important role.

 

 

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Event Information:

Date, Time:21/10/2019, 16:00 h – 17:30 h

Location: Hörsaal Geologie (310/EG/030), Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Winter term 2019/2020


Summer term 2019