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 Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tuebingen (Senckenberg Centre HEP) are therefore highly relevant for today, even if they reach far back into the past: the overarching goal of HEP 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 HEP 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 Tuebingen, the Centre now provides a unique opportunity in Germany that encompasses seven different disciplines at a single location that work on the biological and cultural evolution of mankind. Seven Professors of the University of Tuebingen are affiliated with Senckenberg and preside over the Senckenberg staff members of their respective work group:

  • Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology
  • Biogeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Micropalaeontology
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Palaeogenetics
  • 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 Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and is operated in collaboration with the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen and the Senckenberg Gesellschaft fuer Naturforschung. This project continues to be an important part of the Senckenberg Centre HEP. Furthermore, the Tuebingen research on the worldwide unique Palaeolithic site in Schoeningen, 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 Tuebingen. Since July 2017, the “Caves of the Oldest Ice Age Art” on the Swabian Jura are part of the UNESCO World Heritage, which is scientifically based on the work of the Senckenberg Centre HEP.

Questions?     Dr. Sibylle Wolf       +49 7071 29-75420
Updated 16/09/2021 3:57pm

At a Glance

  • The seven work groups of the Centre work on the biological and cultural evolution of humans – the focus lies on migration processes and cultural change.
  • The Senckenberg Centre HEP is part of the Leibniz Association since 2017. The institute in Tuebingen is one of the seven Senckenberg institutes in Germany.
  • The research is, among other examples, part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage “Caves of the Oldest Ice Age Art” on the Swabian Jura.
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