Map of study sites throughout the  Mediterranean and northeastern Africa Schrägluftaufnahme von Resafa und südliches Umfeld | Foto: Manfred Stephani 1999 Landschaft um die Siedlung von Yeha (Äthiopien). Autorin: Irmgard Wagner, Orient-Abteilung des DAI. Copyright: DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa Temple 300 of the Great Enclosure in the semi desert environment of Musawwarat es-Sufra/Sudan | photo/copyright: Thomas Scheibner Titel: Landschaft in Petra, Autor: Colin Tsoi | Quelle: Colin Tsoi, Flickr | Copyright: CC_BY_ND
This research group investigated the nexus between environmental requirements for settlement spaces, the cultural acquisition of these spaces, and the development of technical knowledge. The central working hypothesis is that the development and shaping of settlement spaces in earlier societies was an important engine for the development of technological skills and technical knowledge.
23 Researchers
9 Research Projects
6 Dissertation Projects
44 Publications
3 Events
24 Cooperating partners

This is most plainly evident in places where settlement plans were confronted with suboptimal environmental conditions. Settling here required particular effort with regard to the development and use of technical knowledge and customized settlement strategies. Due to the location of the archaeological sites, aspects of water management played a central role. However, the project also investigated building material production and usage, as well as the transfer, adaptation and development of new building techniques and related aspects. In each case, research was conducted to determine what space-related knowledge (e.g. topographical knowledge, rainwater runoff characteristics, quality of resources) was available to the groups involved in implementing the settlement plan, and how they translated this knowledge into technical and social strategies. This also included the question why settlements were founded under suboptimal conditions – in the wilderness, in difficult-to-access valleys, in arid regions or places at risk for spring tide flooding – and what requirements and goals were being pursued in such cases.

A three-step analytical approach was applied in each case, taking into account the sociocultural motivation for founding a settlement, the bodies of knowledge mobilized in the process, and the environmental preconditions and environmental impact of the settlement.


Research Projects