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Research groups

Hidden landscapes Contact Person: Mads Kähler Holst
This research group will explore hidden landscapes of the past. This will involve basic material-scientific investigations of climatic, economic, agricultural and spatial conditions of landscape consumption. It will also involve cultural analyses of how past landscapes became charged with a range of cultural properties and culture-analytical assessments of the degrees to which these were shared and how they framed particular activities. Likewise, the process will be investigated from ritual or otherwise lived landscapes of the past to cultural heritage of the present.

War, ritual and society Contact Person: Mads Kähler Holst
In a historic perspective managing warfare and conflict and handling the effects of war has constituted a major challenge of human societies. In this respect a strong ritualization of war and the closing of war is, both historically and in a cross-cultural contemporary perspective, a central and in part understudied aspect. It draws upon basic psychological properties of our experience of and response to war and it, it provides a cosmological integration of the disruptive effects of war, and it provides an important aspect to the understanding of the incentives and institutions of war. The research unit of War, ritual and society explores the social institutions and effects of war and the ritualization of war and war closure in prehistory. It builds on previous research efforts at AU, primarily the Research program War and Society and the Iron Age war sacrifice projects at Moesgård Museum, and it includes new external research projects such as the Carlsberg-funded project War and post-war ritual in the Early Iron Ages.

Mobility & Transculturality Contact Person: Helle Vandkilde
The aim of this research unit is to investigate the cultural mobility of people, goods, technologies and ideas both past and present. It builds on the results of the AAL research unit ‘Travelling Cultures’ and the EC project ‘Forging Identities’. The main area of interest is the investigation of archaeological relics which give clues to traffic by land and sea, the channels through which culture travels, movement-related technological, social and ideological changes and the bio-flows of humans, plants and animals. Travel affects both the traveller and the people to which he/she exposes himself. An additional focus of our research group will be upon the patterns of reception of foreign ideas in those areas that are associated with movement and migration in the past. Archaeology is the core discipline of this research unit, however, but participants from other disciplines are invited in order to create a lively, multidisciplinary research environment.

LaPaDiS – Laboratory for Past Disaster Science Contact Person: Felix Riede
The LaPaDiS Research Unit functions as a historical laboratory for investigating archaeological, anthropological and other aspects of past disasters, with an initial focus on the interaction between a) volcanic eruptions and b) sea-level rise and the societies these processes affected. Financed by FKK and Sapere Aude grants, LaPaDiS serves as an experimental analytic and educational space and network for humanists, social and natural scientists. Its aim is to facilitate the build-up of local competencies in tephra (=volcanic ash) analysis, and to stimulate synthetic knowledge creation and junior colleague nurture through involvement and recruitment of students at all levels. LaPaDiS project partners link AU Archaeology locally to Moesgård Museum (Conservation and Oriental Depts.), as well as to AU Anthropology, Old Norse, Theology, and Geoscience. The research group also includes external partners at the Universities of Cambridge and Aberystwyth, and is associated with the INTAV and VOGRIPA networks of tephrochronology and global risk and vulnerability assessment respectively.

Evolution cognition and deep history Contact Person: Peter C. Kjærgaard
This research unit approaches the question of what makes us human from an interdisciplinary perspective focusing on culture, interaction and technology by combining insights from biology, history, archaeology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Embracing what we see as effectively supplementary disciplinary perspectives, we work to identify and discuss the wide spectra of evolutionary, historical and cultural factors that make possible distinctly human forms of, for instance, actor interaction, causal and normative cognition, social information transmission, social organization, subsistence economy and technology transfer. The concept of deep history is used to combine biological and cultural perspective on what makes us human, and to understand the discussions of this question in their historical and contemporary contexts.  

The para-Historical Bronze Age Contact Person: Helle Vandkilde
In the Bronze Age societies across Europe and Asia became linked in historically unique ways with the innovation, production, exchange and creative exploration of the new pliable alloy: bronze! Relations between local and macro-scale processes of change seem to have coincided with increased mobility in different forms and domains. There is still a patchy understanding of how it all began, were elaborated on and maintained for more than a thousand years. A certain focus on the Scandinavian region is unequivocal albeit as a player in a much larger oikomene. The Bronze Age is still very much part of identity-making in the present through the visibility of burial mounds and singular items such as the sun chariot from Trundholm, a national as well as European icon symbolising ‘the first golden age’ in Europe.

Viking Age studies Contact Person: Andres Dobat
The Viking Age (the history of the Scandinavian societies during the second half of the first Millennium AD) is studied through archaeological and written sources. Viking Age research is per se an interdisciplinary study area, involving a broad span of academic disciplines. As an open forum, based on a number of already running or planned research projects at ARTS, the research unit will constitute the framework for future research into various central research problems of the Viking age in an interdisciplinary perspective, aiming at:
- the study of the development of states and centralized political power, international trading networks and communication and towns- study of the Viking Age with focus on the religious, social and textual aspects concerning the Viking period
- the promotion of interdisciplinary studies involving other research environments at AU, Denmark and abroad
- attract further external funding for Viking Age research

The Living House Contact Person: Mette Svart Kristiansen
A house is matter, architecture, a roof over the head; it is a home, a reflection, keeper and creator of lived life and human imagination, mini cosmos and society. Its physicality encapsulates and represents transformation as well as duration and so it points towards the future and the past. This fundamental understanding of the material world as multi-temporal and the ever interlinked relationships of the house, human life and society constitutes the outset for exploring new readings of houses and homes from the Middle Ages to the present. Combining a broad range of academic fields this research unit aims to explore the material agency and temporality of different representations of house and home and their interaction with human life in a period of profound changes in society.

Cultural Heritage Resources Contact Person: Andres Dobat
In its immense diversity of forms cultural heritage is a major challenge for present and future generations on a national and global scale and an important research area. The research unit will meet the national and global demands for interdisciplinary research within this increasingly important field, which for a long time has been characterized by the conceptual divide between a relativistic approach to cultural heritage as social construction and the understanding of cultural heritage as historical ‘reality’ and its material remains. Focusing on the latter concept of cultural heritage as material-cultural phenomenon, the research unit aims to provide the framework for studying all aspects of this broad and multifaceted theme, bringing together the various disciplines and environments working with the subject or related areas, including also the new Moesgård Museum.Themes include the constant threat to, and ongoing often damaging transformation of, cultural heritage inside and outside conflict zones.

Digital Research Infrastructures and eScience in Archaeology & Heritage Contact Person: Jens Andresen
Archaeological data, information, and knowledge is increasingly recorded, stored, managed, processed, and disseminated on digital media as its primary carrier. This development constitutes both a challenge and opens new avenues of possibilities for the discipline. Only through inter-disciplinary corporation satisfactory solutions can be accomplished. On both EU (www.dariah.eu) and national level (DIGHUMLAB) research initiatives have been launched to facilitate seamless work-flows and long-term storage solutions for digital data. In order to identify research areas in arts and humanities, initiatives related to the mention have been launched. The research unit participates in the EU funded NeDiMAH network, which focuses on space and time modelling, dimensions which are of central importance in archaeological reasoning. Other key research areas are: 3D visualization & modelling, remote sensing, predictive modelling, digital heritage management, excavation recording, the semantic web, user / community participation.