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Prehistory focuses on human history from the Lower Palaeolithic (c. 2.5 million years ago) until the first occurence of written documents. By archaeological excavation, finds and features are secured and documented and used for the reconstruction of cultural evolution. The Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Cologne teaches the different Methods and Theories of Prehistoric Archaeology including relevant scientific approaches. The Institute covers the fields of "Palaeolithic", "Neolithic" and "Metal Ages". These fields are complemented by the Research Centre for African Archaeology as well as the laboratories for Archaeobotany, Dendroarchaeology and Carbon Dating.


The Palaeolithic focusses on the earliest phase of human history, which beginns about 2.5 million years ago. It covers the entire Pleistocene and ends at the transition to the Holocene about 12,000 years ago. Critically to Palaeolithic research are the cultural remains of early hominins in Eurasia and Africa. Research foci are postglcaial hunter-gatehrer-societies, lithic assemblages, palaeodemography, cultural evolution and human-environment-relationships.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Richter


Research on the Neolithic focusses on the transition from hunter-gatherer-societies to pastoral and farming communities. The so-called "Neolithic Revolution" covers sedentism, farming and herding, as well as first evidences of domesticated plants and animals. Central fields of research are innovation transfers in prehistoric societies, the european Neolithic, lithic tools and technologies as well as prehistoric land-use in the Rhenisch opencast mine area.

Prof. Dr. Silviane Scharl

Metal Ages

The Metal Ages cover the prehistoric phases of the Chalcolithic (or "Copper Age"), the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Metallurgy forms one important focus of research. Furthermore, societal structures, tell-settlements and landscape-archaeology, as well as archaeological theories are in the scope of research. At the institute, the field is closely linked to Archaeobotany and focusses on the research of bronze age tell-settlements in Eastern Europe using geophysical methodologies.

Prof. Dr. Tobias L. Kienlin

Professorship for environment and cultural evolution of early humans

The resarch fo the professorship for environment and cultural evolution of early humans are:

  • Culrural Evolution
  • Human-Environment-Relationships in the Palaeolithic
  • Upper Palaeolithic in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Palaeodemography

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Maier