WG Zooarchaeolology

Our working group in zooarchaeology is comprised of an international team of scientists focusing on multiple levels of human-environment interactions in the past. It includes basic subsistence-related topics such as hunting strategies, domestication, and herding, as well as larger landscape based questions of environmental reconstructions and the placement of humans within the carnivore guild and past ecosystems. As with all zooarchaeological research, our team operates within a broader network of archaeological sciences, conducting interdisciplinary interactions with researchers specializing in isotope studies, ancient DNA, paleoecology, and paleontology, as well as in cooperation with cultural studies and more “classical” archaeological disciplines. Members of our research team are affiliated with the Senckenberg Center of Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (HEP) group at Tübingen. After the retirement of Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Peter Uerpmann in 2009, Prof. Nicholas J. Conard, Ph.D. has lead the zooarchaeology working group. Dr. Britt M. Starkovich joined the team in 2012 and manages the day-to-day operations of the group.



Currently, our research focuses on three major regions, though we have significant ongoing work elsewhere. The first area is the Paleolithic occupation of the Swabian Alb. Excellent preservation allows for detailed reconstructions of human subsistence behaviors and diachronic change from the Middle Paleolithic through Mesolithic period. Human diets are evaluated within the context of environmental change in order to determine if subsistence shifts are the result of internal cultural or demographic factors, or larger environmental changes. Issues of site formation processes and taphonomic studies are also addressed. We work closely on these projects with other researchers from the University of Tübingen, including Drs. Hervé Bocherens and Dorothée Drucker (Biogeologie) and Dr. Madelaine Böhme (Terrestrische Paläoklimatologie).

The second main research area is Southwest Asia. Ongoing excavation projects in Syria and Iran have yielded stratified faunal assemblages from the Middle Paleolithic to Neolithic. This work has improved our understanding of local chronologies and developed a picture of human-animal interactions in the region. Of special interest are human and animal dispersal events through the Levant and Arabia, and the origins of animal domestication. Much of the faunal data from these sites are interpreted in conjunction with botanical results from the Archaeobotany research group at Tübingen, led by Dr. Simone Riehl.

The most recent area added to the Zooarchaeology research group is in southern Greece. Faunal analyses are currently underway on three Greek Paleolithic sites in Peloponnese that span from the Middle Paleolithic through Mesolithic. This work is providing an unprecedented look at hominin subsistence change and environmental interactions in a historically understudied region. This research complements the work of Dr. Katerina Harvati’s PaGE project (Paleoanthropology, Tübingen). Additional work is conducted on a Bronze Age through Hellenistic sacrificial altar site, in cooperation with Dr. Susan Mentzer (Geoarchaeology, Tübingen).

In addition to these major areas, substantial research is also being conducted elsewhere in Germany (Schöningen), France (Germolles), South Africa (Sibudu Cave), Armenia, and Georgia. Recent results from Schöningen address the skill of Lower Paleolithic butchers and place hominins at the site in direct competition with large Pleistocene carnivores such as saber-toothed cats. These projects are part of larger Tübingen excavations and involve multiple members from other research groups, as well as ROCEEH (the role of culture in early expansion of humans) team.



Institute for Archaeological Sciences
Work group: Archaeozoology
Ruemelinstr. 23
72070 Tuebingen



Dr. Britt Starkovich

Tel: +49-(0)7071-29-77113



Secretary (Burgsteige 11, Schloss Hohentübingen):

Frau Mima Batalovic

Tel: +49-(0)7071-29-76457

Fax: +49-(0)7071-29-5714

Mo. 08:00-12:00 Uhr
Mi - Fr. 08:00-12:30 Uhr