2018, Sun, May 06

Neolithic (R)Evolution – on the topicality of an epoch-making theory

Talk with Joachim Burger and Johannes Müller

The yearning for the “primordial,” which burgeoned around 1930 amid the upheavals of modernity, was also demonstrated in the enthusiasm for the young discipline of archeology. In 1936, the archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe coined the term “Neolithic Revolution” to describe an epoch-making theory of humankind’s transition from hunter-gatherers to sedentary farmers and livestock breeders. Even today, new studies on Neolithic conditions are not only received with interest by a broad public, but it seems they are above all also interpreted in terms of their cultural and political implications for our time.
In their research, Joachim Burger and Johannes Müller approach the Neolithic Period using the latest scientific methods. They provide a critical update to the theory of the “Neolithic Revolution” from different points of view.

Joachim Burger is an anthropologist and population geneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. His research focuses on the biological and cultural being and becoming of humans. He explores human history over the past ten thousand years using statistical genomics and relies on genome data obtained directly from prehistoric skeletons. Burger is considered the founder of Palaeopopulation genetics. In 2005, he and his team published the first Neolithic population genetic study and in 2016 the first Neolithic genome.

Johannes Müller is an expert on the Neolithic period who has carried out field research on social aspects and environmental questions in particular and published numerous books and articles. His excavation activities focus on Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe, including megalithic structures, settlement mounds, and large settlements. In addition, he does ethno-archaeological research, for example in Nagaland of northeastern India. Johannes Müller is director of the Archaeological Institute of Kiel University, director of the Johanna Mestorf Academy Kiel and spokesperson for various collaborative projects, including the Graduate School of Human Development in Landscapes and the Collaborative Research Center on Scales of Transformation: Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies.