Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann

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Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann

On the following sections, I would like to give an overview of my past and present research activities. If the results or partial results of these projects have already been presented at a conference or published, it is also mentioned. In addition, if there was some funding, the funds are listed in the project descriptions as well.

Past and present research activities

My research interests can be describes as the topics lifeworlds, gender roles, identity and diversity; visual representations and images of the past; the archaeology of diversity; gender archaeology; the archaeology of death and burial; mass graves; the Justinian plaque; aDNA and archaeology; rural settlements in social perspective; chronology; statistical methods and databases in archaeology; communicating archaeology; public archaeology and perception of cultural heritage; didactics in archaeology; research on study programs; scholarship of teaching and learning and the times and areas Iron Age Scandinavia; Roman Period; Migration Period; Merovingian Period; Viking Age; with focus on middle and northern Europe

Mass graves in diachronic perspective

in cooperation with the Russian Academy of St. Petersburg, the Berlin Excellence Cluster Topoi and the University of Basel.

In 2014, unknown mass graves from the 18th century were discovered during construction work at the corner Sytninskaja- and Kronwerskaja street in the center of St. Petersburg. Morphological age and sex determination of the skeleton showed, that only men were buried there, and no individual was younger than 10-12 years. As the skeletons showed no traces of lacerations or bullet wounds, but injuries that indicated hard work and a life full of privations, the buried men were interpreted as some of the forced laborers who built St. Petersburg. To learn more about the living conditions of those men, isotopic analyses were conducted at 25 selected individuals; further analyses are planed. Mass graves are on the one hand finds that recieve much attention, especially in the public, but on the other hand there is surprisingly few literarure on the archaeological basics and the theoretical background: Each mass grave is usually be seen as a single find. But, similar to e.g. battlefields, we know enough examples from different times and regions by now s that it would be possible to compare them and to work on commons, differences, and theoretical approaches.

This project and first results from the isotopic analyses were discussed at the Russian Academy of St. Petersburg, 08.02.0219, and at the Eisenzeitkolloquium at Freie Universität Berlin, 16.01.2019.


with C. Gerling / V. A. Lapshin / V. G. Moiseyev / I. G. Shirobokov / S. L. Solov’ev / E. N. Uchaneva / A. V. Zubova / M. Meyer, Some insights into the lives of builders of early Saint Petersburg. Prähistorische Zeitschrift 2020, ahead of print, DOI: 10.1515/pz-2020-0020 peer reviewed

The plague in interdisciplinary and diachronic perspective

Diseases have both a biological as well as a social dimension. To address their biological dimension, research from disciplines as modern medicine, physical anthropology as well as paleogenetic, which became more and more important over past years, are needed. To address their social component, it is needed to examine such aspects as popular perception and response as well as the effects that the disease had through disciplines like archaeology, history or cultural anthropology. To get the best view on diseases in the past and how people dealt with them, interdisciplinary research and exchange is crucial. Furthermore, modern perceptions of how a disease should be handled, have to be made explicit, to avoid unreflected transformations of modern views to the past.

Here, I would like to discuss the different dimensions of diseases and how different disciplines percept and interpret them at the example of the plague. The plague, caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis, is on the one hand a disease, that is still present today and causes several dozens to hundred of deaths worldwide every year, but it is also a disease that was researched at least since the 1830ies. First, research on the plague was conducted by historians of medicine and mainly from written evidence they had from the past. From written evidence, two main plague events were identified in the past: First the so called Justinianic Plague in late antique and early middle ages, and second the so called Black Death at the end of the middle ages. But this first research was also conducted in a special historical and political setting and had a very contemporary aim: to create awareness of epidemics in contemporary European politics. Since then, the modern perception of historical plague events was shaped as catastrophic epidemic outbreak.

In recent times, archaeology and paleogenetic were able to contribute to the history of the plague, and could show, that on the one hand the Justinianic Plague was not the first time, when past populations had to deal with the plague, but the history of the plague goes back at least to the late neolithics/early bronze age. On the other hand, the archaeological record proves different and diverse handlings of plague victims in the past, which often contradict the modern assumption of past plagues equalling epidemic outbreaks and catastrophic events.

Presentations to this topic were given at Freie Universität Berlin, 18.7.2018, as habilitation lecture, at University of Leipzig, 07.11.2018, and at Museum Herxheim, 05.04.2019 as evening lecture, and at a conference on medicine in antiquity, Berkheim-Bonlanden, 08.-10.11.2018.

Publications are in preparation.

An archaeology of diversity?

Here, I would like to discuss the topics „gender“ and „diversity“ critically, and from different perspectives.

New results on this research were presented at the 85th Annual Meeting of the West- und Süddeutscher Verband für Altertumsforschung (WSVA), 01.-05.04.2019, Würzburg and at the Research Day of Insitute of Prehistoric Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin, 15.12.2017


Research on archaeology study programs

Study programs are the foundation of a discipline, as all future collegaues have to start with a study program. Therefore, study programs have great influence on how future professionals are shaped, which questions are asked, and which perspectives are taken. Surprisingly, there is little scientific research on teaching and learning in archaeology, on how archaeology study programs are designed, and what effects the desing of study programs has to gender and diversity of the subject. By combining my two professions - archaeology and higher education - I started to evaluate German study programs in various perspectives.

New results on this research were presented at Focus: Museum, 15.-17.04.2019, Archaeological Museum Brandenburg, at the 85th Annual Meeting of the West- und Süddeutscher Verband für Altertumsforschung (WSVA), 01.-05.04.2019, Würzburg, at the 24th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, 05.-09.09.2018, Barcelona, Spain, at the Annual Meeting of the Mittel- und Ostdeutscher Verband für Altertumsforschung (MOVA) and the West- und Süddeutscher Verband für Altertumsforschung (WSVA), 19.- 22.03.2018, Halle (Saale), and at the conference Gender transformations in prehistoric and archaic societies, 08.–10.03.2018, Kiel.


  • Wie lassen sich neue Inhalte schnell in die Lehre in Bachelor- und Masterstudiengänge einbringen? Einige Anmerkungen zu Problemen und Umsetzungsmöglichkeiten in modularisierten Studiengängen am Beispiel des Kulturgüterschutzes aus studiengangsorganisatorischer und didaktischer Sicht. Archäologische Informationen 42, 2019, Early View. [translated title: The preservation of cultural heritage as part of university teaching. Some notes to problems and possibilities of realization in the context of study program organization and didactic.] peer reviewed
  • Beitrag in einer formalisierten Debatte bzw. im Debattierclub. In: J. Gerick/A. Sommer/G. Zimmermann (eds.): 50 Prüfungsformate für die Hochschullehre. Kompetent Prüfungen gestalten (Münster 2017) 25-29. [translated title: Formalized debate as exam.]
  • Gendered and diversified fieldwork classes in prehistoric archaeology? An examination of and a perspective on Bachelor study programs of German universities. In: Julia K. Koch/Wiebke Kirleis (Hrsg.), Gender Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies. Scales of Transformation 6 (Leiden 2019) 65-92. peer reviewed
  • in preparation for printing: Gender und Diversity in Bachelorstudiengängen der Prähistorischen Archäologie. [translated title: Gender and Diversity in undergraduate study programs on prehistorical archaeology.]

Continuity and change of lifeworlds in regional and diachronic comparison during late antiquity

(english description will follow)

Der zeitliche Rahmen, in welchem sich das Projekt bewegt, wird im Titel mit dem Begriff „Spätantike“ umschrieben. Historisch-politisch soll die Spätantike als die Zeit von Diokletian (284-305) bis Justinian (527-565) verstanden werden. Archäologisch gesehen umfasst dies einen Großteil der jüngeren römischen Kaiserzeit, die Völkerwanderungszeit und Teile der älteren Merowingerzeit. Damit umfasst der Untersuchungszeitraum sowohl Perioden politischer und wirtschaftlicher Stabilität als auch von Umbrüchen geprägte Zeiten, und ist gut dazu geeignet, Kontinuität und Wandel von Lebenswelten unter unterschiedlichen Voraussetzungen und Rahmenbedingungen zu untersuchen.

Im Rahmen des Projektes sollen mit Hilfe von soziologischen und philosophischen Konzepten zu Lebenswelten und sozialen Rollen sowie mit Hilfe des Habituskonzepts die theoretischen und methodischen Grundlagen erarbeitet werden, um Lebenswelten anhand von Siedungs- und Grabfunden erforschen zu können. Im Laufe der Arbeiten sollen diese anhand von konkreten Fallbeispielen und Fundstellen verfeinert werden. Hierzu sollen Kontinuität und Wandel von Lebenswelten der Spätantike in gewählten Beispielregionen untersucht und die Ergebnisse der einzelnen Regionen diachron miteinander verglichen werden. Ausgangspunkt der Untersuchungen bilden dabei archäologische Quellen, die je nach Verfügbarkeit weiterer Quellen um solche aus Nachbarwissenschaften ergänzt werden. Dabei zeichnen sich die gewählten Beispielregionen durch einen guten Stand der Quellenerschließung und -edition aus. Sie verfügen über unterschiedliche naturräumliche Gegebenheiten und sind eingebunden in unterschiedliche politische Räume. Im Verlauf der Spätantike sind die Gebiete unterschiedlichen Ereignissen und Veränderungen unterworfen, daher ist es reizvoll, sie gegen einander zu kontrastieren.

New results on this research were presented in an evening lecture at the Insitute of Prehistoric Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin, at 03.05.2016, at a workshop of the German Archaeological Institute, 07.-10.09.2016, DAI Rom, Italy, and at the 21th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, 02.-05.09.2015, Glasgow, UK.

Funding: Maria von Linden Frauenförderprogramm


  • Studien zu Lebenswelten der Spätantike und des Frühmittelalters. Eine vergleichende sozialarchäologische Betrachtung von Grab- und Siedlungsfunden aus Westskandinavien und der Münchner Schotterebene. [translated title: Late antique and early medieval lifeworlds in Western Scandinavia and the Munich Gravel Plain.] Habilitation thesis, currently in preparation for printing.
  • Individual lifeworlds and social structured societies in Merovingian settlements of the Munich Gravel Plain. In: L. H. Dommasnes/D. Gutsmiedl-Schümann/A. T. Hommedal (eds.): The Farm as a Social Arena (Münster 2016), 105-125.
  • Akteure in überregionalen Beziehungen Westskandinaviens: Zur Aussage von Grabfunden mit Metallgefäßen der Jüngeren Römischen Kaiserzeit. In: Chr. Later/M. Helmbrecht/U. Jecklin-Tischhauser (eds.): Infrastruktur und Distribution zwischen Spätantike und Frühmittelalter. Tagungsbeiträge der Arbeitsgemeinschaf Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 8 (Hamburg 2015), 229-248. [translated title: Actors in supra-regional relations of Western Scandinavia according to metal vessels of the Younger Roman Age.]

The Justinian plague in early medieval Bavaria

in cooperation with the Bavarian State Collection of Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy, Munich and the University of Munich, Institute for pre- and early historical archaeology

„Plague, as any disease, is both a biological as well as a social entity. To address its social component, we need to examine such aspects as popular perception and response as well as the effects that the pandemic had.“ (cited after Dionysios Stathakopoulos 2007). This is also the case in case of the so called „Justinianic Plaque“, which first appeared in the middle of the 6th century AD in the Mediterranean and spread from there within a few years through the at that time known world. So far, only few non-written sources had been taken into account, when the effects of Justinian Plague to the societies were discussed. One is the merowingian cemetery of Aschheim-Bajuwarenring (see below), where physical anthropologists could detect DNA of ancient yersinia pestis in some double and multiple burials, another one is the merowingian cemetery of Altenerding, approx. 25 km away from Aschheim.

New results from this research was presented at the conference Reihengräber - Nutzen wir doch die Quellenfülle!, 17.-20.02.2015, Mannheim, at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, 31.08.-03.09.2016, Vilnius, Lithuania (video-recording of the paper:, at the conference Unwated Cargo: Disseases along the silk road, 06.-07.06.2016, University of Nottingham, UK, and at the 69th International Sachsensymposion, 15.-19.09.2018, Stockholm, Sweden.


  • with M. Harbeck: Neues zur Aschheimer Pest: Kulturgeschichtliche Implikationen alter DNA. In: U. Koch (ed.): Reihengräber des frühen Mittelalters: Nutzen wir doch die Quellenfülle! (Remshalden 2016), 235-242. [translated title: News on the early medieval plague in Aschheim.]
  • with M. Harbeck: Auch von der Pest nicht verschont. Archäologie in Deutschland 3/2015, 30-31. [translated title: The plague didn’t spare them.]
  • Die Pest im frühen Mittelalter in Aschheim. In: Jahresschrift des Bajuwarenhofs Kirchheim 2004 (Kirchheim 2005), 112-116. [translated title: The pestilence in the Early Middle Ages in Aschheim.]
  • Die justinianische Pest nördlich der Alpen? Zum Doppelgrab 166/167 aus dem frühmittelalterlichen Reihengräberfeld von Aschheim-Bajuwarenring. In: B. Päffgen/E. Pohl/M. Schmauder (Hrsg.): Cum grano salis. Beiträge zur europäischen Vor- und Frühgeschichte. Festschrift für Volker Bierbrauer zum 65. Geburtstag (Friedberg 2005), 199-208. [translated title: The Justinian plague north of the Alps? The double-burial 166/167 of the Early Medieval cemetery of Aschheim-Bajuwarenring.]

Images of the Past: Gender and its representations

Visual representations of gender throughout prehistory and history are seen in museum displays, reconstructions, movies, children’s books, comics, living history or similar. With this book we propose to have a critical look on visual presentations of the past, and to reveal the gender concepts behind them. As „a picture is worth a thousand words“, these visual presentations have great influence on the observer’s view on the past and several aspects of the present – especially when the images are used in communication with the public. The book shall illustrate

  1. by whom and how images of the past and past gender are produced
  2. what the (hidden) aims of designers, scientists, artists, curators or actors are when depicting (pre)historic humans
  3. how conscious and unconscious concepts of (prehistoric) gender influence illustrations, models, drawings, movies, children’s books, and TV series
  4. how images of the past influence the ideas of readers’ and visitors’ concepts of (contemporary) gender
  5. what visual presentations of the past tell about archaeologists or archaeology as a profession

Images of the past: Gender and its representations was a session at the 20th Annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, 10.-14.09.2014, Istanbul, Turkey.

Funding: Frauenfördermittel des Fachbereichs Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin


J. E. Fries, D. Gutsmiedl-Schümann, J.Z.B. Matias and U. Rambuscheck: Images of the past: Gender and its representations. Frauen – Forschung – Archäologie 13 (Münster 2017).

In 2018, the topic visual representations of the past = images of the past was chosen for a lecture and a seminar at Freie Universität Berlin. As the students who participarted in the seminar gave very impressive papers and rised new research questions, the papers of this seminar are currently transferred into a edited volume.

Early female archaeologists

In the book project Ausgräberinnen, Forscherinnen, Pionierinnen. Ausgewählte Portraits früher Archäologinnen im Kontext ihrer Zeit [translated title: archaeologists, researchers, pioneers. Selected portraits of early female archaeologists in the context of their time], selected examples of women are presented who made in the early days of archeology and archaeological research their way into this new science. These women are, however, shown not only in their professional activities and their carrer, but also in their private lives.

In individual portraits female archaeologists are shown in their social, professional and contemporary environment. What did it mean for women, to be professional archaeologist or to be active in archeology? How were they seen in their profession by their family and their social environment? Were they encouraged by their environment? Had they been resprected by the scientific world? Could they combine their work and family responsibilities, and how?

Funding: Maria von Linden Frauenförderprogramm, Deutscher Akademikerinnenbund, Gerda-Weiler-Stiftung


J. E. Fries and D. Gutsmiedl-Schümann: Ausgräberinnen, Forscherinnen, Pionierinnen. Ausgewählte Portraits früher Archäologinnen im Kontext ihrer Zeit. Frauen – Forschung – Archäologie 10 (Münster 2013). [translated title: Archaeologists, researchers, pioneers. Selected portraits of early female archaeologists in the context of her time]

Gender roles? Role Models and Lifeworlds of men and women in Roman and Migration Period Western Scandinavia based on archaeological evidence

(english description will follow)

Innerhalb ihres sozialen Umfelds wird eine Person mit unterschiedlichen Rollenvorstellungen und Rollenerwartungen konfrontiert, je nachdem, mit wem bzw. welchem Gegenüber das Individuum imkonkreten Fall interagiert. Beispiele für diese Rollenvorstellungen, die auf eine Person übertragen werden können, wären geschlechts- oder familienspezifische Rollen, arbeits- oder berufsspezifische Rollen, religiöse Rollen oder altersabhängige Rollen. Die Lebenswelt einer Person steht und entsteht im Spannungsfeld der unterschiedlichen Rollenerwartungen, die das Individuum gegenüber der Gesellschaft zu erfüllen hat, den Freiräumen, die die einzelne Person bei der Ausgestaltung der ihr zugedachten sozialen Rollen hat, und dem Alltagsleben des Einzelnen, das vor allem durch wiederkehrende Tätigkeiten und Handlungsabläufe geprägt ist. Innerhalb dieses Spannungsfeldeswerden in einem kommunikativen Prozess soziale Position und Lebenswelt einer Person bestimmt. Die soziale Position und die ihr innewohnenden unterschiedlichen sozialen Rollen werden in vielen Fällen durch äußere Zeichen, beispielsweise durch spezifische Kleidung oder das Tragen oder den Gebrauch bestimmter Gegenstände sichtbar gemacht. Damit lassen sie sich in der materiellen Kultur und im archäologischen Befund erfassen. Ziel des Projektes ist daher, Gräber und Grabausstattungen Westskandinaviens innerhalb eines Zeitraumes zwischen verschiedenen Regionen, und innerhalb einer Region zwischen verschiedenen Zeiträumen zu vergleichen, um so Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten in der Repräsentation sozialer Rollen und der Lebenswelten der Menschen zunächst im Grab, und in einem zweiten Schritt dann auch in der zeitgleichen Siedlung herauszuarbeiten.

Hierzu werden beigabenführende Gräber der Jüngeren Römischen Kaiserzeit und Völkerwanderungszeit aus Norwegen zeitlich und nach Regionen gegliedert quantitativen und qualitativen Grabanalysen unterzogen. Quantitative, mit statistischen Methoden durchgeführte Grabanalysen werden getrennt an Männer- und Frauengräbern durchgeführt. Sie dienen dazu, Gemeinsamkeiten, Unterschiede und Untergruppen innerhalb einer Gruppe von Gräbern zu finden. Qualitative Grabanalysen hingegen haben das einzelne, gut ausgestattete und dokumentierte Grab im Blick. Vor dem Hintergrund der zuvor anhand von qualitativen Grabanalysen erzielten Ergebnisse sollen hier einzelne Grabfunde hinsichtlich ihrer Übereinstimmung und ihrer Abweichungen von den typischen Grabausstattungen ihrer Zeit und ihrer Region betrachtet und mit Blick auf die Lebenswelt der dem einzelnen Grab zuzuweisenden Person interpretiert werden. Durch eine differenzierte Auswertung von Gräbern und Grabfunden werden typische Ausstattungsmuster von Männer- und Frauen, nach Regionen und Zeiten getrennt, herausgearbeitet. Die Ergebnisse dieser Untersuchungen werden hinsichtlichihrer Aussage zu Rollenvorstellungen und Lebenswelten von Männern und Frauen in der Jüngeren Römischen Kaiserzeit und Völkerwanderungszeit Westskandinaviens ausgewertet. Auf diese Weise können typische Aspekte der Lebenswelten beider Geschlechter herausgearbeitet werden.

Results of this research were presented at the 17th Annual Meeting der European Association of Archaeologists, 14.-18.09.2011, Oslo, at the 62th Sachsensymposion, 24.-28.09.2011, Hannover, and at the VarI-Kolloquium, 26.11.2011, Cologne, Germany.

Funding: Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung


  • Akteure in überregionalen Beziehungen Westskandinaviens: Zur Aussage von Grabfunden mit Metallgefäßen der Jüngeren Römischen Kaiserzeit. In: Chr. Later/M. Helmbrecht/U. Jecklin-Tischhauser (eds.): Infrastruktur und Distribution zwischen Spätantike und Frühmittelalter. Tagungsbeiträge der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 8 (Hamburg 2015), 229-248. [translated title: Actors in supra-regional relations of Western Scandinavia according to metal vessels of the Younger Roman Age.]
  • Rollenvorstellungen und Lebenswelten der Völkerwanderungszeit am Beispiel von Grabfunden aus ausgewählten Regionen West- und Nordwestnorwegens. In: Individual and Individuality? Approaches towards an Archaeology of Personhood in the First Millennium AD. Neue Studien zur Sachsenforschung 4 (Stuttgart 2013), 27-34. [translated title: Role models and lifeworlds of the Migration Period using the example of graves from selected regions of Western and Northwestern Norway.]

Other publications are in preparation.

Archaeology of Female Lifeworlds of Western Scandinavia in the Context of Continental Relations from the Roman to the Migration Period

For many historic periods graves and grave finds offer the best, in some cases the only possible approach to re-discover the individuals and their ever changing environment behind archaeological records and finds due to the direct relationship between the architecture of a certain grave, its inventory and the individual who is buried in said grave. The finds of extensively endowed women’s burials in Norway dating from the Roman and Migration Period will first be classified by integrating them into a chronological and regional context, which will allow studying how such finds define social standing, typical activities, and role models of the women as well as how these concepts changed and developed during the covered periods.

Based on these results non-local grave goods, which are part of the Norwegian inventory, will be matched to Norwegian grave gifts found in England and all over Europe to investigate the interregional contacts and relationships of the western Scandinavian population and to evaluate their geographical and chronological depths. Thus, the Norwegian find complexes will render new insights in the political development of the Roman and Migration Period in Europe from a historical point of view, with specific regard to the role women played in these interregional contacts. At the core of the research idea herein presented are those western Scandinavian inhumation burials of the Roman and Migration Period that contain typical features of the female lifeworld such as brooches and beads, and thus are commonly appointed women’s burial sites. To investigate important aspects these graves and their inventory will be recorded comprehensively and evaluated regarding their meaning to the life of the elite of Scandinavian women.

In the first centuries AD a small part of the western Scandinavian populace performed a major change in their burial rites. Instead of burying their dead in simple cremations, mostly lacking grave gifts, as they used to do, this prosperous group begins to bury their deceased unburnt in elaborate and richly endowed graves. Although some of the graves show individual decorations to some extent these burials match each other in their main features. So they can be easily subsumed into their own category. Furthermore, they can be found up to the 6th century AD in all of western Scandinavia, thus covering the whole period to be investigated in the proposed research.

In this project, women’s graves from the said period and from the Norwegian districts were collected. For the current project the districts of Hordaland, Rogaland, Vest-Adger, Nord-Trondelag and Nordland had been choosen as examples. The study itself focus on the significance of the graves and the objects they contain regarding the life of the western Scandinavian women and their respective role models during the Roman and Migration Period. Special attention is paid to the non-local objects that made their way from the continent and the British Isles into the graves of Norway. These objects then will be utilized to investigate the interregional and international relationships of the western Scandinavian population more closely from a female perspective.

Results from this project were presented at the 60th Sachsensymposion, 19th-23rd September 2009, Maastricht, Netherlands, and in two guest lectures at the universities of Trondheim and Bergen.

Funding: Norwegian Research Council, Yggdrasil grants for research stays in Norway


  • Akteure in überregionalen Beziehungen Westskandinaviens: Zur Aussage von Grabfunden mit Metallgefäßen der Jüngeren Römischen Kaiserzeit. In: Chr. Later/M. Helmbrecht/U. Jecklin-Tischhauser (eds.): Infrastruktur und Distribution zwischen Spätantike und Frühmittelalter. Tagungsbeiträge der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 8 (Hamburg 2015), 229-248. [translated title: Actors in supra-regional relations of Western Scandinavia according to metal vessels of the Younger Roman Age.]
  • Rollenvorstellungen und Lebenswelten der Völkerwanderungszeit am Beispiel von Grabfunden aus ausgewählten Regionen West- und Nordwestnorwegens. In: Individual and Individuality? Approaches towards an Archaeology of Personhood in the First Millennium AD. Neue Studien zur Sachsenforschung 4 (Stuttgart 2013), 27-34. [translated title: Role models and lifeworlds of the Migration Period using the example of graves from selected regions of Western and Northwestern Norway.]

Other publications are in preparation.

A Roman Age settlement with a wooden fountain at Wiefelstede-Borbeck, Lower Saxonia

During a rescue excavation in the community of Wiefelstede finds and features from the Roman Period were excavated. The site consists of three houses, a bigger one and three smaller ones, several pits and a wooden fountain. The ceramic material dates the settlement in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and the wood of the fountain provides dendrochronological dates at the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It is also remarkable that fragments of briquetage were found at this site.

This site was presented at the Annual meeting of the Archaeology Commission for Lower Saxony, 23.-25.06.2011, Vechta, and the colloquium Archaeology in Weser-Ems, 26.-27.06.2010, Oldenburg, Germany.


Eine kaiserzeitliche Siedlungsstelle mit dendrodatiertem Brunnen aus Wiefelstede-Borbeck. Nachrichten aus Niedersachens Urgeschichte 83, 2014, 87-105. [translated title: A Roman Age settlement with a dendrodated wooden fountain from Wiefelstede-Borbeck].

Pre- and early historical archaeology in schools

The working group Archäologie im Schulbuch is located at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ur- und Frühgeschichte (DGUF), and is concerned with the presentation of archaeological, especially preand protohistoric archaeological contents in school textbooks and in school lessons. The main aim of this working group is to promote a long-term improvement of the quality of archaeological topicstaught in German schools, which is conducted by reviewing school textbooks and school curricula, by publishing a bibliography of archaeological publications that are easy to understand for teachers, textbook writers and interested non-archaeologist and by building a forum for discussions between archaeologist, teachers, and textbook writers.

As chair of the working group Archäologie im Schulbuch co-organiser of the DGUF annual conference Archäologie, Schule und Museum im Spannungsfeld kultureller Bildung 17.-20.5.2012, Dresden, Germany.


  • with P. Degenkolb: Archäologie, Schule und Museum im Spannungsfeld Kultureller Bildung. Einführung in das Tagungsthema und kurze Bilanz der Tagung. Archäologische Informationen 35, 2012, 89-92.
  • P. Degenkolb, D. Gutsmiedl-Schümann, S. Scharl, M. Sénécheau and S. Suhrbier: Literaturempfehlungen zur Archäologie. Fachliteratur, Sachbücher, Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Hrsg. v. Arbeitskreis Archäologie im Schulbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Ur- und Frühgeschichte. Archäologische Berichte 21, 2. überarbeitete Auflage 2012. [translated title: Recommendations to archaeological literature. Specialised books, nonfictional books, literature for children]
  • D. Gutsmiedl-Schümann and I. Engelien-Schmidt: Ur- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie im gymnasialen Geschichtsunterricht. In: GWU - Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 63, Heft 3/4, 2012, 157-172. [translated title: Pre- and protohistorical archaeology in high school history lessons.]
  • P. Degenkolb, D. Gutsmiedl, S. Scharl, M. Sénécheau and S. Suhrbier: Ur- und Frühgeschichte in aktuellen Lehrplänen für den Geschichtsunterricht. In: Archäologische Informationen 31/1&2, 2008, 103-118. [translated title: Prehistoric Archaeology in current curricula for history lessons.]

Social archaeology in the merovingian graves of the Munich Gravel Plain

Out of my dissertation project (see below) emerged further questions regarding social archaeology in the merovingian graves of the Munich Gravel Plain. For these, I took more merowingian cemeteries that were examinated archaeological and anthropological as well into account.

Results from this work were presented at the 4th meeting of the working group Gender archaeology at the 79th conference of the Northwest-German Association for Archaeology, 31.08.-01.09.2009, Detmold, Germany, at the X Nordic TAG, 26.-29.05.2009, Stiklestad, Norway and at the 19th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeology, 04.-08.09.2013, Pilsen, Czech Republic.

Funding: Maria von Linden Frauenförderprogramm; DAAD Kongress- und Vortragsreisenprogramm


  • Vom kleinen Mädchen zur jungen Frau. Rekonstruktionen von Lebensabschnitten weiblicher subadulter Individuen auf Grund von archäologischen Funden aus merowingerzeitlichen Gräbern der Münchner Schotterebene. In: S. Moraw/A. Kieburg (Hrsg.), Mädchen im Altertum/Girls in Antiquity. Frauen - Forschung - Archäologie 11 (Münster 2014), 417-430. [translated title: From Little Girl to Young Woman. Reconstructing the Life Course of Female Subadult Individuals Based on Archaeological Finds from Merovingian Graves of the Munich Gravel Plain.] peer reviewed
  • Merovingian Men – fulltime warriors? Weapon graves of the continental Merovingian Period of the Munich Gravel Plain and the social and age structure of the contemporary society – a case study In: R. Berge/M. E. Jasinski/K. Sognnes, N-TAG TEN. Proceedings of the 10th Nordic TAG conference at Stiklestad, Norway 2009. BAR International Series 2399 (Oxford 2012), 251-261. peer reviewed
  • Alter- und geschlechtsspezifische Zuweisung von Hand- und Hauswerk im frühen Mittelalter nach Aussage von Werkzeug und Gerät aus Gräbern der Münchner Schotterebene. In: J. E. Fries/U. Rambuscheck (Hrsg.), Von wirtschaftlicher Macht und militärischer Stärke. Beiträge zur archäologischen Geschlechterforschung. Bericht der 4. Sitzung der AG Geschlechterforschung auf der 79. Jahrestagung des Nordwestdeutschen Verbandes für Altertumsforschung e.V. in Detmold 2009. Frauen – Forschung – Archäologie 9 (Münster 2011), 37-74. [translated title: Age- and gender-specific allocation of craft and domestic work in the early Middle Ages according to tools and equipment out of graves of the Munich Gravel Plain.] peer reviewed
  • In print: From the little girl to the young woman. Reconstructions of periods of life of female subadult individuals based on archaeological finds from Merovingian graves of the Munich Gravel Plain. (For publication in the conference proceedings from the EAA session “Children in the Prehistorical and Historical Societes”, edited by Paulina Romanowicz, Polish Academy of Sciences).

A database for early medieval glass beads

First, the database for early medieval glass beads, the Perlendatenbank, was designed and programmed to be used for my dissertation project on the merowingian cemetery of Aschheim-Bajuwarenring (see below). It was then also used by other master- and PhD-students at the department of pre- and early historical archaeology at LMU München/University of Munich, and passed subsequently also to master- and PhD-students from other universities. Currently the database is used by master- and PhD-students from the universities of Munich, Bonn, Jena and Erfurt. Together with the collegaues who are working on early medieval glass beads from Bavarian graves, we are planing to bulid a glass bead-based dating scheme for merowingian Bavaria.

Mid-term it is planned to design and program a free version of this database for early medieval glass beads and to offer it through the website of the department.

The database was presented on the 78th Annual meeting of the West- und Süddeutscher Verband für Altertumskunde, 06.-10.06.2006, Xanten, Germany

The merovingian cemeteries of Aschheim

PhD project in cooperation with the Bavarian State Department for Cultural Heritage, the community and the archaeology & history museum Aschheim and the Bavarian State Collection of Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy

The work on the cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring tried new ways in collaborate work and research of archaeologists, conservators and physical anthropologists. It might be pointed out that only half of the objects that came out of the graves are restaurated; mainly iron objects like swords, shields, knives, simple buckles and so on were conservated and x-rayed, put not or only partly restaurated. But as during the project time conservators and archaeologist worked very close together, it was still able to use all objects for the archaeological investigation. Aschheim-Bajuwarenring was the first cemetery that was treated in this way, but nowadays it is standart in the Bavarian State Department for Cultural Heritage.


The main subject of the dissertation with the translated title The early-medieval cemetery of Aschheim-Bajuwarenring, district Munich. Studies of chronology, burial rites, age distribution and social structure of a Merovingian local cemetery of Munich Gravel Plain is the cemetery of Aschheim- Bajuwarenring. This graveyard contains 444 burials, and was completely excavated in the late 1990s. Soon after the excavation started the restauration of thegravegoods at the Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Munich, as well as the archaeological analysis of the cemetery and an anthropological investigation of the skeletons. The dissertation, that is summarized here, was part of this interdisciplinary cooperation between conservators, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians, who joined as well as the colleagues of the museum of Aschheim, where lots of the results of our work had been presented to a public audience.

The dissertation itself has two main parts: One that deals with the archaeological view on the graves and the gravegoods, and another where the archaeological finds and the anthropological results, especially age, sex and gender of the deceased, are connected to get a better idea of the age structure of the early medieval population of the village Aschheim. parIntroduction: Landscape, historical background and research history

The first chapter of the dissertation gives an overview over the landscape around Aschheim and the geological situation of the area that is located at the north end of the Munich Gravel Plain. In Roman times Aschheim itself was not colonized, but some Roman finds from neighbour villages show the presence of Romans in Roman times. Important for Aschheim are two Roman streets not for away, who had been in use in medieval times as well. The written sources name Aschheim (“aschaim”) in early medieval times in two contexts. One is the “vita haimrani”, where the life and death of St. Emmeram (y 690) is described. Here the church of Aschheim is named as the first buried place of the deceased bishop. The second is the protocol of the “bavarian synod of 756”, that took place in the village of Aschheim.

Archaeological research stated in Aschheim in the 1830s. The first finds had been found by workers of local gravel pits, and had been sent to the archaeological museum in Munich. Soon after that, historians of the museum and other interested people had an eye on the local gravel pits, and rescued some more finds. Unfortunately nearly all objects found in the 19th century had been lost during the two world wars. The cemetery of Aschheim-Bajuwarenring is not I single early medieval site in this area. There are some sites of early medieval houses and settlements nearby, as well as some more finds of early medieval graves and the first church of Aschheim which is dated to the 6th century.

Part One: The archaeological view on graves and gravegoods

In the archaeological analysis of the burials and gravegoods the graves had been divided into mens and womens burials. It was necessary because of the very different objects that had been found in mens and womens graves. Both groups can only with a few object types, like ceramics or simple beltbuckles, be connected with each other. Statistical analysis or combination methods like Seriation on the other hand can only be used with one of the groups, either mens or womans graves. The mens burials can be divided into 5 groups. Each group is represented by a certain belt-type, and a distinct set of weapons and tools. Compared with mens graves from contemporary Merovingian cemeteries the men in Aschheim have more and a more manifold collection of tools in their graves, and less weapons. The gravegoods of the deceased show them more like craftsmen, not so much like warriors.

The womens burials show a very wide range of furnishing. There are very rich burials, with lots of jewelery, gold and silver objects, but there are also very simple graves that contains only a few glass beads and a simple iron buckle. Because of this wide range the glass beads, that can be found in nearly all womens graves, are the only possibility to date the graves with relative chronological and statistical methods. The glass beads divide the womens graves into 7 groups. These groups represent on the one hand chronological groups, they show on the other hand connections to different areas of the Merovingian culture.

The outcome of the chronological analysis of the gravegoods is that the oldest graves of the cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring can be dated to the years 480/490. The first of 5 phases of the graveyard, dated between 480/490 and 525/535, contains only few burials, and they are spread over a wide area.

In the second phase, dated between 525/535 and 565/570, the graves started to concentrate at some points in the area of the cemetery. The graves of one of these concentrations have often similarities that divide them from graves of other spots. That leads to the result that these concentration spots belong to families or communities who lived at one agricultural unit. In the following phases these areal concentrations of burials move in the area of the graveyard, but the graves never again are built such widespread as in phase 1. The 2nd phase is also the phase in which two victims of yersinia pestis, the plague, had been detected from the anthropologists. It is eyecatching that in this phase a large number of double and multible burials, where two or more deceased had been buried in one grave at one time, can be found.

The following 3 phases, dated to 565/570-600, 600-620/630 and 620/630-670/680, show a continuous development of the cemetery. The foundation of the first church in Aschheim around 600 had no noticeable impact to the cemetery, even though there had been a few graves excavated in the churchyard which can be dated to the time around 600 too. It seems that the majority of the population was still using the big cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring.

Part Two: Connecting archaeological finds and anthropological results

Each population can be divided into and each society consists of age groups. To which age group a person belongs can be seen on his or her clothes, jewelry or other attributes of the person: That was the main idea behind the second part of the summarized dissertation. Age and sex of the deceased had been determined by an anthropologist; the gender of the buried people can be seen in their gravegoods and can be determined on archaeological way. In this part the graves also have been divided into two groups: girls and womens graves and boys and mens graves. The morphological age groups infans I (0-6 years old), infans II (7-12 years old), juvenil (13-19 years old), adult (20-39 years old), matur (40-59 years old) and senil (over 60 years old) had been used.

Swords are only found by adult men, often in the age group adult, less in the age groups matur and senil. This is an important point when the contemporary written sources are seen as well: There the notice can be found that a Merovingian boy becomes a man when he is strong enough to fight with a sword. Other objects that are related to only adult men are tweezers and needles. Boys and young were prefer to wear iron belt buckles, older men prefer belt buckles made out of bronze – this could be a sign that different belt buckles are connected with different cloth, and that younger and older men could be differenced by their clothes as well. An interesting point is the burial ritual that can be seen in mens graves. If the buried contains a sword, and the deceased is a young man, under 40 years old, the sword was placed at or over the upper part of the body, near the areas or over the chest, with its tip orientated to the head. If it is a older man, over 40 years old, the sword mostly lies at the bottom part of the body, near or at the lower extremities or the feet, with its tip orientated to the feet as well.

The graves of girls and women differ not that much in the types of objects that had been found in them, but in the variety of the gravegoods and the prefered material. The richest graves can be found in the agegroup between 16 and 25. Highly furnished burials of young women are known from other Merovingian cemeteries as well. A possible reason for the richness of the graves could be that this young women had been brides, promised to the husband but not yet married, and when they died two families, her own and the one of the future husband, were responsible for the burial. Tools for textile craft are also found exclusively in womens graves. So textile work seems to be a female duty. S-shaped brooches are prefered by young women, under 40 years old, while brooches with red inlays like garret are prefered by older women.

In the end, the connection between age, sex, gender and grave goods could only show few significant connections, which can be explained with the fact that the objects found in the graves belong to a very wide variety of combinations. And for lots of object types it can be seen that there are too less examples of one type had been found in the cemetery to allow statistical analysis. But this is the first barbarian Merovingian cemetery where the question for connections between age, sex, gender and gravegoods had been asked, and future archaeological research will set more light on that topic.

Results of the dissertation project were regularily presented in small exhibitions and lectures at the Local History Museum of Aschheim. Besides that, papers on this work were given at the conference Fundmassen. Innovative Strategien zur Auswertung frühmittelalterlicher Quellenbestände, 08.-10.11.2011, Esslingen, at the Runen-Workshop at the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), 03.-04.02.2011, Schleswig, at the 94th Colloquium of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie, 04.03.2010, Mannheim, at the 80th Colloquium of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie, 29.06.2006, Mannheim, at the 1. Münchner Fachschaftskolloquium, 12.-13.02.2005, at the 74th Colloquium of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie, 25.11.2004, Mannheim, at the 77th Tagung des Westund Süddeutschen Verbands für Altertumskunde, 01.-05.06.2004, Amberg and as guest lecture in the Bavarian State Department of Cultural Heritage at 09.02.2009, in Aschheim at the 14.06.2010 in Aschheim and at the Akademikerinnenbund Hamburg at the 20.10.2010.

Funding: Scholarship of Cusanuswerk (archaeology); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (physical anthropology).


  • Das frühmittelalterliche Gräberfeld Aschheim-Bajuwarenring. Materialhefte zur bayerischen Vorgeschichte A 94 (Kallmünz/Opf. 2010). [translated title: The early-medieval cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring.]
  • with A. Pütz: Aschheim: Ein zentraler Ort? Eine Indiziensuche in den archäologischen Funden und Befunden. In: J. Haberstroh I. Heitmeier (eds.): Gründerzeit. Siedlung in Bayern zwischen Spätantike und Frühmittelalter (St. Ottilien 2019) 691-720. [translated title: Aschheim: a central place?]
  • Runenbeschriftete Fibeln und Gräberfeld von Aschheim: Archäologie. In: O. Grimm/A. Pesch (eds.), Archäologie und Runen. Fallstudien zu Inschriften im älteren Futhark (Kiel/Hamburg 2015), 457-473. [translated title: Brooches with runic inscriptions from Aschheim.]
  • Aschheim-Bajuwarenring: Analyse auf Basis von unrestaurierten Funden und Röntgenaufnahmen sowie teilrestaurierten und restaurierten Funden: Ein Erfahrungsbericht. In: S. Brather/D. Krausse (Hrsg.), Fundmassen. Innovative Strategien zur Auswertung frühmittelalterlicher Quellenbestände. Materialhefte zur Archäologie in Baden-Württemberg 97 (Darmstadt 2013), 199-208. [translated title: archaeological examination of the cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring on basis of not restored, partly restored and restored finds.]
  • Das frühmittelalterliche Gräberfeld Aschheim-Bajuwarenring – Einblicke zur Bevölkerung der Merowingerzeit. In: Jahresschrift des Bajuwarenhofs Kirchheim 2011 (Kirchheim 2012), 11-33. [translated title: The early medieval cemetery Aschheim-Bajuwarenring – insights to a merovingian population.]
  • Regionalisierungstendenzen merowingerzeitlicher Perlenmode am Beispiel der Perlen aus dem frühmittelalterlichen Gräberfeld von Aschheim-Bajuwarenring, Lkr. München. In: O. Heinrich-Tamaska/N. Krohn/S. Ristow (Hrsg.), Dunkle Jahrhunderte in Mitteluropa? Tagungsbeiträge der AG Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 1 und 2. Studien zu Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 1 (Hamburg 2009), 183-198. [translated title: Tendencys of regionalization in Merovingian bead’s fashion using the example of the early medieval cemetery of Aschheim, district Munich.]
  • with M. Volpert: Große Landespolitik in Aschheim. Der Aschheimer Raum zur Zeit der ersten bayerischen Landessynode 756. In: ascheim Aschheim. 1250-Jahrfeier der 1. bayerischen Landessynode unter Herzog Tassilo III 756. dornah Dornach. 1150-Jahrfeier der ersten schriftlichen Nennung 856. Ortschronik der Gemeinde Aschheim (Aschheim 2006), 58-63. [translated title: Big regional politics in Aschheim. The Aschheim area at the time of the first Bavarian synod 756 A.D. Published in the Aschheim community’s chronicle.]



researcher - lecturer - archaeologist | prehistorian - university didactic