This the website of the zukunft.niedersachsen project “Climate Change and Early Humans in the North” (CCEHN). For more information on it, please read below.
All the material published on this site belongs to the authors and cannot be used without permission, unless otherwise indicated.

The CCEHN Project

The current human-made climate change affects all spheres of our society and its impact on the planet’s ecosystems is yet unknown. By exploring past human-environment-climate relationships, we can infer socio-behavioural responses to climatic and environmental shifts. Furthermore, palaeo-climate modelling and the reconstruction of palaeo-landscape can provide important insights into natural climate shifts.

The aim of our project is to investigate the evolutionary roots of human adaptation to climatic and palaeoenvironmental shifts at the northern limit of their former distribution area. Here, the glacial/ interglacial cycles led to enormous climatic and environmental changes. The archaeological record of Lower Saxony, with several outstanding sites, shows that early humans inhabited this area since about 300.000 years, but it is unclear whether this happened mostly during the temperate phases, or also during colder periods. To better understand human adaptational behaviour, we propose to: (1) study the palaeoenvironment, palaeo-climate change, and landscape evolution on a macro, meso and micro scale, (2) link the resulting data to the archaeological record and (3) finally establish a high-resolution chronological framework for the period from c. 300.000 years to 40.000 years ago (Marine Isotope Stage 9 to 3).

Lower Saxony is an excellent study area for this research approach: Due to its rich Palaeolithic record that is preserved in open air sites and caves, its sediment archives documenting the advance- and retreat of Pleistocene glaciers, as well as periglacial conditions and warm-climate periods of the past, the relationship between climatic shifts, concomitant changes of landscape and ecosystems, and the presence of early humans can be unravelled.

In our project design, we bring together archaeology, zooarchaeology, geology and sedimentology, geophysics, palaeobotany, GIS-applications as well as aDNA-analysis in a multifaceted approach. We integrate the research expertise, ranging from archaeology and geo- biosciences in Lower Saxony and beyond, with the goal to establish a research cluster in the field of human-environment-climate-adaptations. We also aim to promote early career scientists and to develop research of high international visibility based in Lower Saxony.

This project will contribute to the aims of the UNESCO Global Geopark Harz and strongly support the Research Museum Schöningen. It will be used as a laboratory for research and for the transfer of knowledge on climate change and past to future human-environment relationships into society. Results will be presented not only in scientific publications, but also in equal measure to the general public, including school classes and in a special exhibition content.

financed by the Lower Saxony MWK with funds from the zukunft.niedersachsen program of the VolkswagenStiftung

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