Project Announcement: COREX

Kristian Kristiansen (University of Gothenburg), Kurt Kjær (Copenhagen University) and Mark G. Thomas (University College London)

Prehistory has no boundaries, therefore neither should the way we research it. Researchers in the fields of archaeology, genetics, linguistics, history and archaeometry are blurring the lines delimiting their respective fields, and working in increasingly collaborative efforts to understand how and why prehistory unfolded in the way that it did. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a need for new and explicit explanatory models which integrate both micro- and macro-level past processes through calling upon diverse types of datasets which each bring different aspects of the past into focus. COREX approaches this challenge by applying novel modelling approaches allowing us to move from correlations to explanations, thereby addressing how changes have been shaped by the dynamic interaction of cultural innovation, ecological change, migration, admixture, population growth and collapse, landscape transformation, dietary change, biological adaptation, social structure, and the emergence of new diseases. To achieve this overall goal the project will include and examine data covering Europe from Scandinavia to the Alps and from Iberia to the Urals during the period from 6000-500 BC. Its four founding pillars are:

  • To create a database for 14C, cultural and subsistence (including isotope) data, aDNA, fossil pollen datasets and strontium samples
  • To identify and characterize environmental DNA (eDNA) and high- resolution local environments,
  • To conduct exploratory analyses and create discriminative models that identify patterns in the different data sets and relate them to one another.
  • To build generative models of how humans interact with each other, with their cultural traditions and with their environments, as explanations of past patterns of genetic and cultural variation.

More specifically, COREX’s findings will serve to determine what impact the movement of people had on the European landscape on multiple scales simultaneously, thereby providing a research program which defies the boundaries of archaeology, genetics, ecology and mathematical modelling. Thus, by identifying prehistoric regularities in the interactions of human biology, social and economic organisation, ecology and demography we will be able to compare them to anthropological and historical models of such processes in recent times. In this way, we will form a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of migration, integration and cultural change, then and now.

Research questions

  1. To what extent do changing patterns in the archaeological record indicative of changes in transmitted traditions, for example, those governing burial practices, correspond to changing patterns in gene flow indicated by data from ancient genomes? Conversely, did adaptation to new environmental conditions lead to changes in economy/subsistence and cultural traditions, irrespective of gene flow?
  2. How did patterns of mobility change over time? Do different types and scales of migration/mobility lead to different forms of genetic, cultural and socio-economic change?
  3. How do we explain fluctuations in regional populations? Did decreases in regional demographic density lead to large-scale gene flow from elsewhere (via migration that then resulted in renewed population growth?). Or were increases in population due to inherent growth (perhaps as a result of increased resource availability through changed climate conditions or technological developments, including new crop varieties)?
  4. What are the relations between genetic factors (ancestry, frequencies of disease-associated alleles and haplotypes), environmental factors (climate, ecozones, subsistence strategy and the presence of pathogens) and population responses?
  5. How can we explain the emergence of large-scale phenomena such as the sharing of material culture traditions in some domains but not others over wide geographic regions, or extensive population movements and replacements, on the basis of local-scale processes such as cultural transmission, identity creation, contact networks and trade?


The development of methods to sequence ancient genomic DNA and the publication of ever-increasing numbers of ancient genomes has created the greatest revolution in archaeology since the introduction of radiocarbon dating in the 1960s. Like that revolution it has removed a major burden of archaeological interpretation, as we have moved from invoking migrations based solely on archaeological evidence to an independent information source, ancient DNA. This resolves the problem of circular reasoning, and implies that we no longer have to discuss if migrations took place, but can instead focus on causes and processes. However, many archaeologists remain skeptical of the implications of this new revolution. This is because genetic studies to date have not been leveraged to systematically explain the patterns that archaeologists identify in material culture data. Also, there are cases where there has been significant material culture change with little change in ancestry, for example, the origin of the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK) in the Carpathian Basin with continuing overwhelmingly high proportions of Anatolian farmer ancestry, or the Bell Beaker complex where a Bell Beaker culture package from Iberia was adopted by Corded Ware groups without significant genetic admixture.

The Challenge

These major advances in understanding the population demographic history of western Eurasia have run far in advance of our capacity to relate them to the empirical archaeological record, except in the vaguest and most general terms. The key challenge that this project will address will be the integration of these revolutionary genomic findings with new archaeological contextual data, detailed environmental DNA reconstructions and quantified palaeo-vegetation data. These high-resolution contextual analyses will then be linked via innovative integrated model-based approaches that can correlate the commonalities and differences among different times and places. We then seek to explain those relationships using generative models by considering how local processes lead to global, continent-wide phenomena. Central to the project, and arguably the single most important challenge in archaeology today, is the ability to handle, integrate and interpret all the new genetic data with archaeological and environmental data, so that we can compare the cultural relationships with those apparent in the ancient genomes and assess the extent to which genes and cultural information were or were not transmitted in parallel, before going on to model the processes that might have produced the relationships and processes inferred.

Our Solution

By bringing together three PIs and four senior researchers with a unique combination of complementary disciplinary backgrounds and skills we propose to create a novel, and thus far never attempted synergistic understanding of the demographic, social, cultural, ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped European prehistory from the introduction of farming to the end of the Bronze Age. Such an endeavour is well beyond the capacity of any of them individually. Key processes to be considered include demographic ones relating to population growth and decline. At the same time as the explosion in ancient genome research, there has been major growth in the collation of large databases of radiocarbon dates and the use of summed date probabilities and related measures to infer past population size changes. These have been accompanied by statistical methods to evaluate the validity of the inferences being made and to correlate them with other proxies, such as anthropogenic impacts on the environment and past vegetation change.

COREX is a six-year Synergy Grant awarded to Kristian Kristiansen, Kurt Kjær and Mark G. Thomas by the European Research Council, which is slated to run from 2021-2027. Institutions involved include University Gothenburg, University College London, Copenhagen University, University of Plymouth and the National Museum of Denmark. To find out more about the project, please visit the project webpage.

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Project Announcement: ArchaeologyHub-CSIC

Xosé-Lois Armada (ArchaeologyHub, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Heritage Sciences (INCIPIT-CSIC), Silvia Valenzuela-Lamas (ArchaeologyHub, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institution Milá y Fontanals of Research in Humanities (IMF-CSIC) and Jaime Almansa-Sánchez (ArchaeologyHub, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Heritage Sciences (INCIPIT-CSIC)

In the context of peri-pandemic restrictions and interpersonal distancing, 2021 saw the birth of a new initiative from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) to connect research and technical staff working in archaeology: ArchaeologyHub-CSIC. So far, the initiative integrates 212 people from 20 research centers and 41 research groups and units.

ArchaeologyHub-CSIC belongs to a wider strategy to adapt the priorities and needs of research for the coming decades (CSIC Scientific Challenges: Towards 2030), aiming for a more sustainable future. This has materialized in 14 white books that frame out the Institution’s general scientific strategy. Due to its fundamental interdisciplinary nature, archaeology appears in eight of these books, and has thus become a connecting force throughout the process.

Given the wide range of topics covered by archaeology, as well as the broad temporal and spatial extent of the discipline, archaeologists often work isolated from each other, missing out on potential insights, ideas and findings from outside our individual specialisms. ArchaeologyHub-CSIC aims to foster collaboration and improve the capabilities of its network members, utilizing the high expertise and multiple infrastructures already available at CSIC.

In addition to strengthening internal collaboration between CSIC Institutes, the network also aims to create a research environment that attracts talent, supports Early career researchers (ECRs) and promotes the internationalization of research as well as its effective communication to society.

Indeed, archaeology has a key role in addressing some of the most relevant challenges faced by modern society. Through our research we can help to understand many social processes and deal with diverse critical issues such as climate change and social inequality (see the EAA Statements for further examples).

Other than the actions oriented towards internal synergies – support for research, collaboration and staff mobility, especially for ECRs with lesser access to resources – two key aspects of the network go beyond the Institution. The first is a focus on training and capacity building that is open to external colleagues and students (e.g. small training grants and research placements). The second is an active emphasis on strengthening the internationalization of our work. CSIC is one of the largest public research institutions in the world, and we aim to highlight the relevance of archaeology within this wider structure.

One of the first actions the network undertook was to become a Corporate Member of the EAA. As such, this short presentation is also aimed at offering our network to the wider community that represents the EAA. If you are interested in a supportive and competent community of partners with integrity and diverse expertise for your prospective projects, ArchaeologyHub-CSIC can help!

For more information or contact You can also follow our social media: @ArchHubCSIC, or visit ArchaeologyHub-CSIC online.

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The European Archaeological Heritage Prize 2022

Call for nominations

The European Association of Archaeologists instituted the European Archaeological Heritage Prize in 1999. An independent Committee awards the Prize annually for an outstanding contribution to the generation of archaeological heritage knowledge and its dissemination, and to the protection, presentation and enhancement of the European archaeological heritage.

As of 2018, nominations for the Prize are received in either of two categories:

  • Individual category for an outstanding scholarly contribution or personal involvement,
  • Institutional category for local, regional, national or international initiatives, long- or short-term, which contribute to the preservation and presentation of European archaeological heritage beyond the normal duties of the institution.

The same nomination form is used for both categories, with a different emphasis in the evaluated criteria.

The major evaluation criteria – recommended to be addressed in the application form – are as follows:

  1. Scholarly (academic contribution)
  2. Societal (contribution to generation of community values based on heritage)
  3. Heritage (achievements within heritage protection / management / conceptual development)
  4. Political (political level impact to further the standing of archaeological heritage)
The Committee will discuss all serious proposals for the Prize. No self-nominations are accepted. Nominations may be made by any of the following:
  • Members of the Association (all membership categories)
  • Professors and heads of departments of archaeology at European universities and institutes
  • Directors of governmental heritage management organisations and agencies in European countries (members of the Council of Europe)
  • Non-governmental archaeological, heritage, and professional organisations in European countries.

The 2022 European Archaeological Heritage Prize will be awarded during the Opening Ceremony of the 28th EAA Annual Meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on 31 August 2022. The awarded candidate(s) are expected to attend the Ceremony in person and to give a very brief presentation of their work (up to 5 minutes). Up to two honorary mentions could also be announced for each category at the Opening Ceremony of the 28th EAA Annual Meeting and will receive the same publicity as the winner(s). 

Please fill in the form, print it as a pdf file and send it with relevant appendices to EAA Secretariat by email to before 1 June 2022.

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Heritage Prize form
(Microsoft Word Document)