Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tuebingen (HEP)

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Climatic and environmental changes had a decisive impact on the evolution of hominins – and the relationship with the environment will continue to play a central role for the future of mankind. The research questions of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen (Senckenberg Center HEP) are therefore highly relevant for today, even if they reach far back into the past: the overarching goal of SHEP is to conduct long-term research concerning the evolution of the bio-cultural diversity of hominins as well as the development of the relationships between different hominin species and their environment. To this end, the scientists at SHEP use modern analytical methods such as genetic and isotopic-geochemical analyses, computertomographical records and geochronological techniques.

The Senckenberg Centre HEP offers excellent conditions to pursue these research questions. Building on a long tradition in Tübingen, the Centre now provides a unique opportunity in Germany that encompasses six different disciplines at a single location that work on the biological and cultural evolution of mankind. Six Professors of the University of Tübingen are affiliated with Senckenberg and preside over the Senckenberg staff members of their respective work group:

  • Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology
  • Archaeo- and Palaeogenetics
  • Biogeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Palaeontology

 In addition, these research units collaborate with Senckenberg work groups in Frankfurt and Weimar.

The underlying idea behind this Centre derives from the long-term project „ROCEEH – The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans“, established in 2008, which is supported by the Heidelberger Academy of Sciences and Humanities and is operated in collaboration with the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung. This project continues to be an important part of the Senckenberg Centre HEP. Furthermore, the Tübingen research on the worldwide unique Palaeolithic site in Schöningen, Lower Saxony, was included as a research project in the portfolio of the Senckenberg Centre HEP since 2016. In addition to the long-term perspectives for research on human evolution, the Senckenberg Centre HEP also contributes to sustainable and diverse teaching as well as the support and further development of the unique palaeontological and archaeological collections at Tübingen. Since July 2017, the "Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura" are part of the UNESCO-World Heritage, which is scientifically based on the work of the Senckenberg Centre HEP.


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