Research Network funded through the University of Vienna

Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences (HEAS)

This research network at the University of Vienna. “Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences (HEAS)” is thematically coherent, of considerable size, and combines excellence and outstanding expertise across various scientific disciplines.


HEAS Structure



HEAS is comprised of seven research units across five faculties/centres of UNIVIE.


  • Department of Evolutionary Anthropology (DEA) / Life Sciences / University of Vienna
  • Core Facility for Micro-Computed Tomography (Vienna Micro-CT Lab) / Life Sciences / University of Vienna
  • Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) / Historical and Cultural Studies / University of Vienna
  • Department of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology (IUHA) / Historical and Cultural Studies / University of Vienna
  • Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator (VERA) / Physics / University of Vienna
  • Department of Palaeontology (PAL) / Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy/ University of Vienna
  • Department of Environmental Geosciences (EDGE) / Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science / University of Vienna

External Partners

In June 2022 we were delighted to welcome the NHM (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) as an external partner for HEAS.In 2023 we welcomed the Austrian Academy of Sciences as partners.

Themes and tasks

Human evolution over the last two million years was not defined by genes alone. We have extended our phenotype extensively and occupied a “dedicated cognitive niche”. Biocultural evolution or gene-culture coevolution are the keywords emphasizing the need to study biological and cultural evolution together.

Archaeological sciences and human evolution are closely linked research fields, as both involve strong links to natural sciences (ancient DNA, stable isotope analysis, radiocarbon dating, residue analysis, electron microscopy, micro-CT, 3D shape analysis, etc.).

Thus, our core theme is to study and broaden our knowledge on human evolution, past cultures and societies through close interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of natural scientific methods with archaeological and historical research.

This will entail an emphasis on state-of-the-art knowledge, methods and approaches, including virtual anthropology/geometric morphometrics, evolutionary developmental morphology, palaeogenomics/palaeoproteomics/palaeoepigenomics, digital archaeology, archaeometry, behaviour, body composition, genetics of diseases, demography, stable isotope analysis, radiocarbon dating, geoarchaeology, geophysical prospection and remote sensing, geology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, human-animal studies, ceramology, metallurgy, lithic studies, and experimental archaeology.

HEAS brings together and provides infrastructural support at the University of Vienna, particularly in socially relevant subject areas, in order to create a critical mass.

Central Aims

Academic excellence, internationalisation and collaborative networks

  • Increase world-leading research in Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences at UNIVIE.
  • Create a strong foundation for projects, pilot studies and close collaborations that will promote and provide support for a range of applications and third-party funds.
  • Develop and strengthen international research partnerships, collaborations and knowledge transfer.
  • Integrate existing expertise within UNIVIE to further develop cross-disciplinary links and to establish new research clusters at UNIVIE. Enhance undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment in anthropology, archaeology, genetics and other disciplines
  • Engage with the public via several avenues, including public events, talks, new online presence (website, social media), and strengthening existing relationships across Austria, Europe, and other countries.