Anthropology and Human Genetics

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Our major concern is the evaluation of the determinants of human population development in time and space, and changing human/environment relationships. The research substrate is mainly made up of archaeological human skeletal finds, where archaeometric analysis of inorganic and organic components are capable of unraveling important aspects of daily history.
Furthermore, a tight cooperation with regard to academic teaching and research has been established with the Institute of Legal Medicine of the LMU since long.

In the following, our research focus will be briefly outlined.

Body relicts:

Bodily relics, mainly skeletal finds, of human individuals from the past constitute an empirical source for the reconstruction of human population development in time and space. Furthermore, they belong to the primary sources for the exploration of human occupation of ecological niches with the result of the genesis of anthropogenic landscapes and even whole anthropogenic ecosystems, the consequences of which are lasting until today.While deciphering these archaeobiological archives, focus is on the search for the netting relationship between man and his biological environment .

Every research on archaeological skeletal finds starts with the identification of each find with regard to the baseline biological data such as age-at-death, sex, and other morphological features (e.g. proportions, robusticity). With regard to questions related to identification problems, a tight cooperation exists with the Institute of Legal Medicine.

Scientific questions and academic teaching:

Each scientific question necessitates its specific methodological approach. Consequently, our academic teaching focusses on the communication of a broad methodological spectrum. Not least, this spectrum is necessary for the accompanying decomposition research, that is the assessment of time and environment specific changes of the molecular and crystalline composition of archaeological skeletal finds. Current research topics are reflected in the subjects of students’ thesis (see “people”).

In addition to the basic education, special lectures are offered concerning Historical Anthropology, Environmental History, Functional Anatomy, and Archaeometry. Seminars are held on diverse aspects of Physical Anthropology and Palaeoanthropology.

Interdisciplinary projects:

Research group “Transalpine mobility and culture transfer” (German Science Foundation, FOR 1670), speaker: Prof. Grupe.

The prehistorical society of Upper Mesopotamia and its subsistence. (German Science Foundation, long term project; with Joris Peters, Institute of Palaeoanatomy and History of Veterinary Medicine, LMU; and Klaus Schmidt, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin).

The Global History of Health Project (with Richard Steckel, Economics Department der Ohio State University, USA)

Our research group is member of the ArchaeoBioCenterLMU (


  • Methodological Spectrum

    Macro- and microscopical inspection, and imaging methods (such as X-raying) permit the establishment of the indispensable biological baseline data and scientific information for the pursuit of questions relating to the diverse aspects of daily life. To answer these, molecular biological methods are applied. The analysis of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in bone collagen, and stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in the bone apatite permit an in-depth reconstruction of palaeoecosystems and their diachronic change. more