Monday, October 18, 2010

UIS archaeologist researches Stone Age farm villages in Germany

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology Lynn Fisher has a passion for archeology.

Fisher has spent nearly every summer since 2001 in the Southwestern region of Germany unearthing early farm settlements. Fisher’s research focuses on European Stone Age societies and culture change.

“We research the Stone Age landscapes out of a curiosity, which moves a lot of people. We want to know the history of that landscape and how people have lived and adapted there,” said Fisher.

Fisher has been working with a group of German archeologists from the University of Tübingen as well as local amateur archeologists to explore the history of early farm villages. College students from UIS and other universities in the United States have also been part of the research team.

One area where the group has concentrated their research is the Swabian plateau of southwestern Germany. The plateau was previously considered to be settled only later in time.

“The surprise was we in fact have a early farmer village, which is up on top of this plateau. It’s the highest elevation early farming site in this region and it really raises some new questions about how farmers occupied this area,” she said.

Researchers discovered nearly a dozen long houses, which they believe date back to between 5400 and 5000 B.C. Before the discovery it was thought the early farmers only inhabited nearby valley areas.

“We’re working in an area where people haven’t previously done a lot of research,” said Fisher.

New mapping technologies allowed the team to investigate the area, without too much disruption. They used remote sensing equipment to locate the exact site of houses in the village. They then dug small trenches based on that information.

“Right now, we’ve closed up our field work at the moment and are in the lab studying some of the 10’s of thousands of artifacts weighing over a ton that we’ve recovered from our three excavations over the years,” added Fisher.

Fisher plans to continue her summer trips to Germany as data is analyzed, which could lead to new discoveries.

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