Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) Members

Magdalena BLANZ

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS), where I work on stable isotope ratios of bioarchaeological remains. Originally trained as an environmental analytical chemist, my interests have always been in analysing archaeological remains. For my PhD I focussed on the identification and interpretation of seaweed consumption by terrestrial mammals in archaeological contexts. During my postdoc, I am researching the first introductions of domesticated animals and plants into Europe, focussing on dietary patterns and plant growth conditions. I am particularly interested in method development and acquiring modern reference data for stable isotope ratio studies.

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Call for Paper for p-XRF conference – deadline on 7th of June

The Call for Papers for the upcoming conference on Methodological Innovations in p-XRF Studies, hosted by the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) and sponsored by HEAS, closes in just a couple of days on the 7th of June! The conference will provide a platform for presenting cutting-edge methods and strategies for p-XRF data acquisition, processing, and interpretation. We invite 20-minute presentations from all fields utilizing p-XRF, with a focus on practical and software innovations, handling techniques, and new applications across diverse materials. Key details: Abstract Submission Deadline: June 7th, 2024 (max. 250 words) Conference Registration Deadline: August 11th, 2024 Conference Date: September 24th, 2024 Ice-breaker Event: September 23rd, 2024 Location: VIAS and NHM Conference Proceedings: Will be published Participation: Free of charge For more information, please refer to the Conference_pXRF_CfP or visit the conference website: https://vias.univie.ac.at/projekte/conference-methodological-innovations-in-p-xrf-studies/ This conference is being organised by HEAS Member Michaela Schauer  

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HEAS UXO workshop

Workshop on Explosive ordnance identification for archaeologists Archaeological fieldwork often takes place in areas that were the scene of historical conflicts. This increases the probability of encountering explosive ordnance during excavations. It can be assumed that on average 10% of all explosive devices fired in conflicts did not explode. These unexploded ordnance (UXO) pose a risk to the safety of excavating archaeologists. Currently, many lack the necessary awareness and training to identify and properly handle ordnance found during fieldwork. This workshop aims to raise risk awareness and to close knowledge gaps in order to increase safety. Participants should be able to recognise potentially dangerous explosive ordnance, ammunition and ammunition parts during field work and react appropriately. This workshop is funded by the HEAS research network and supported by the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science, the Institute for Prehistory and Historical Archaeology, and the Austrian Archaeological Institute. Date and location: Saturday June 8th 2024, 9:30 until ca. 15:00, Franz-Klein-Gasse 1, HS7, 1190 Vienna Speaker: Vice-Lieutenant Jürgen Zeitlhofer Workshop language:  German For registrations please email immo.trinks@univie.ac.at   Download flyer  

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HEAS Member Verena Schuenemann Publishes Research on How Leprosy Spread Between Red Squirrels And People in Medieval England

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that continues to sicken 200,000 people each year in many places around the world, according to the World Health Organization, spread through close contact over months with someone who has untreated leprosy. But new evidence from archaeological sites in the medieval English city of Winchester reported in Current Biology on May 3, 2024, shows that English red squirrels once served as an important host for the Mycobacterium leprae strains responsible for leprosy in people. The findings may have implications for understanding the spread of leprosy today, including why it has not been successfully eradicated, according to the researchers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also highlight the importance of a collaborative One Health approach for understanding infectious diseases and health outcomes more broadly. One Health refers to an approach that recognizes that the health of people is closely linked to the health of animals and the environment.   Read Press Release Link to article

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HEAS Member wins Poster Price

HEAS Member Michelle Haemmerle recently won a poster prize for her work on the 'Monkeypox virus in museum samples of orangutans' at the VDSEE Symposium in the University of Vienna Biology Building (UBB). The publication the poster was based on was published earlier this month.

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Ancient mitogenomes from Pre-Pottery Neolithic Central Anatolia and the effects of a Late Neolithic bottleneck in sheep (Ovis aries)

Sandoval-Castellanos, E., Hare, A.J., Lin, A.T., Dimopoulos, E.A., Daly, K.G., Geiger, S., Mullin, V.E., Wiechmann, I., Mattiangeli, V., Lühken, G., Zinovieva, N.A., Zidarov, P., Çakırlar, C., Stoddart, S., Orton, D., Bulatović, J., Mashkour, M., Sauer, E.W., Horwitz, L.K., Horejs, B., Atici, L., Özkaya, V., Mullville, J., Parker Pearson, M., Mainland, I., Card, N., Brown, L., Sharples, N., Griffiths, D., Allen, D., Arbuckle, B., Abell, J.T., Duru, G., Mentzer, S.M., Munro, N.D., Uzdurum, M., Gülçur, S., Buitenhuis, H., Gladyr, E., Stiner, M.C., Pöllath, N., Özbaşaran, M., Krebs, S., Burger, J., Frantz, L., Medugorac, I., Bradley, D.G., Peters, J., 2024. Ancient mitogenomes from Pre-Pottery Neolithic Central Anatolia and the effects of a Late Neolithic bottleneck in sheep (Ovis aries). Science Advances 10, eadj0954. read more

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HEAS Hosted ‘Archaeology for Kids’ Workshop at the NHM

On the 6th February 2024 HEAS hosted a group of children from children from around Vienna for a workshop on 'Archaeology for Kids' at the HEAS partner the Natural History Museum. The children learnt about the main prehistoric and historical eras with interactive examples of representative sites, monuments, and objects. We hope this hands on experience sparked an interest for the children in ancient cultures and the modern scientific methods used to study them. To learn more about the workshop and other work by Dr. Alexandra Dolea please see her blog post below: https://www.ilovearchaeology.com/post/archaeology-for-kids-workshop

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HEAS Member Martin Fieder publishes new US textbook

HEAS Member Martin Fieder has published a new US textbook on social status, number of children in modern societies, confirming evolutionary assumptions on social status and reproduction. This is the first book to fully examine, from an evolutionary perspective, the relationship between social status and fertility in human societies before, during, and after the demographic transition. In most non-human social species, social status or relative rank in a social group is positively associated with the number of offspring, with high-status individuals typically having more offspring than low-status individuals. Humans, however, appear to be different. As societies have become richer, fertility has fallen to unprecedented lows, with some developed societies now at or below replacement fertility. Within rich societies, women in higher-income families often have fewer children than women in lower-income families. Evolutionary theory suggests that the relationship between social status and fertility is likely to be somewhat different for men and women, so it is important to examine this relationship for men and women separately. When this is done, the positive association between individual SES and fertility is often clear in less developed, pre-transition societies, especially for men. Once the demographic transition begins, it is elite families, and especially the women of elite families, who lead the way in fertility decline. Post-transition, the evidence from a wide range of developed…

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Allgemein Publications

The 10,000-year biocultural history of fallow deer and its implications for conservation policy

Baker, K.H., Miller, H., Doherty, S., Gray, H.W.I., Daujat, J., Çakırlar, C., Spassov, N., Trantalidou, K., Madgwick, R., Lamb, A.L., Ameen, C., Atici, L., Baker, P., Beglane, F., Benkert, H., Bendrey, R., Binois-Roman, A., Carden, R.F., Curci, A., De Cupere, B., Detry, C., Gál, E., Genies, C., Kunst, G.K., Liddiard, R., Nicholson, R., Perdikaris, S., Peters, J., Pigière, F., Pluskowski, A.G., Sadler, P., Sicard, S., Strid, L., Sudds, J., Symmons, R., Tardio, K., Valenzuela, A., van Veen, M., Vuković, S., Weinstock, J., Wilkens, B., Wilson, R.J.A., Evans, J.A., Hoelzel, A.R., Sykes, N., 2024. The 10,000-year biocultural history of fallow deer and its implications for conservation policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 121, e2310051121. read more

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Stable population structure in Europe since the Iron Age, despite high mobility

Margaret L Antonio, Clemens L Weiß, Ziyue Gao, Susanna Sawyer, Victoria Oberreiter, Hannah M Moots, Jeffrey P Spence, Olivia Cheronet, Brina Zagorc, Elisa Praxmarer, Kadir Toykan Özdoğan, Lea Demetz, Pere Gelabert, Daniel Fernandes, Michaela Lucci, Timka Alihodžić, Selma Amrani, Pavel Avetisyan, Christèle Baillif-Ducros, Željka Bedić, Audrey Bertrand, Maja Bilić, Luca Bondioli, Paulina Borówka, Emmanuel Botte, Josip Burmaz, Domagoj Bužanić, Francesca Candilio, Mirna Cvetko, Daniela De Angelis, Ivan Drnić, Kristián Elschek, Mounir Fantar, Andrej Gaspari, Gabriella Gasperetti, Francesco Genchi, Snežana Golubović, Zuzana Hukeľová, Rimantas Jankauskas, Kristina Jelinčić Vučković, Gordana Jeremić, Iva Kaić, Kevin Kazek, Hamazasp Khachatryan, Anahit Khudaverdyan, Sylvia Kirchengast, Miomir Korać, Valérie Kozlowski, Mária Krošláková, Dora Kušan Špalj, Francesco La Pastina, Marie Laguardia, Sandra Legrand, Tino Leleković, Tamara Leskovar, Wiesław Lorkiewicz, Dženi Los, Ana Maria Silva, Rene Masaryk, Vinka Matijević, Yahia Mehdi Seddik Cherifi, Nicolas Meyer, Ilija Mikić, Nataša Miladinović-Radmilović, Branka Milošević Zakić, Lina Nacouzi, Magdalena Natuniewicz-Sekuła, Alessia Nava, Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, Jan Nováček, Anna Osterholtz, Julianne Paige, Lujana Paraman, Dominique Pieri, Karol Pieta, Stefan Pop-Lazić, Matej Ruttkay, Mirjana Sanader, Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, Alessandra Sperduti, Tijana Stankovic Pesterac, Maria Teschler-Nicola, Iwona Teul, Domagoj Tončinić, Julien Trapp, Dragana Vulović, Tomasz Waliszewski, Diethard Walter, Miloš Živanović, Mohamed el Mostefa Filah, Morana Čaušević-Bully, Mario Šlaus, Dušan Borić, Mario Novak, Alfredo Coppa, Ron Pinhasi, Jonathan K Pritchard (2024) Stable population structure in Europe since the Iron…

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HEAS Member Peter Steier publishes paper on dating Austria’s Lake Neusiedl

The landscape of present-day Austria was shaped by the ice ages, the last of which ended around 10,000 years ago. Modern scientific methods allow us to gain an insight into these processes long before historical records exist. One controversial question to date has been how long Lake Neusiedl has existed. Because there was no reliable evidence, estimates ranged from thousands to millions of years. In a joint endeavour, scientists from four Austrian universities have now succeeded in narrowing down the age of Lake Neusiedl to around 25,000 years. Stephanie Neuhuber from the Institute of Applied Geology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna, under whose leadership the study was carried out, is surprised by this age, which coincides with the peak of the last ice age, as it was actually particularly dry at that time. The age was determined by radiocarbon dating of carbonate minerals formed in the lake water and deposited in mud on the lake bed. Read more here   Read full paper  

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Early Neolithic pastoral land use at Alsónyék-Bátaszék, Hungary (Starčevo culture): New insights from stable isotope ratios

Blanz, Magdalena, Marie Balasse, Delphine Frémondeau, Erika Gál, Anett Osztás, Anna Zs Biller, Éva Á. Nyerges, Denis Fiorillo, Eszter Bánffy, and Maria Ivanova (2023). "Early Neolithic pastoral land use at Alsónyék-Bátaszék, Hungary (Starčevo culture): New insights from stable isotope ratios." PloS one 18(12): e0295769. read more

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HEAS Member Verena Schünemann has a new paper in Nature on Prehistoric human remains from South-America helping to uncover the origins of treponemal diseases.

The oldest known genome of a bacterium from a family that causes diseases such as syphilis has been identified in prehistoric human remains from Brazil, a Nature paper reveals. The finding helps to shed light on the origins of this disease group. Closely related but distinct subspecies of Treponema pallidum bacteria cause different types of treponemal disease, such as venereal syphilis and a non-sexually transmitted disease known as bejel. The origins of these diseases are debated: some argue that the syphilis epidemic in late 15th century Europe arose after Columbus’ expeditions introduced the bacteria from the Americas. Previous theories of the emergence of these diseases have been based on studies of ancient bone pathology but definitive evidence to identify the causative subspecies has eluded researchers. Verena Schuenemann and colleagues extracted DNA from four individuals from a nearly 2,000-year-old Brazilian burial site and were able to reconstruct the genomes of T. pallidum bacteria that had infected them. Their analysis revealed that the pathogen responsible was most closely related to the modern species that causes bejel. The finding adds strength to previous suggestions that civilizations in the Americas experienced treponemal infections in pre-Columbian times, and that treponemal disease was already present in the New World at least 500 years before Columbus set sail. The study does not shed light on the emergence…

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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology (DEA) Members

Olivia CHERONET

I am a post-doctoral researcher in the department of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Vienna, and the lab manager of Ron Pinhasi's ancient DNA lab. Following an undergraduate training in Paleobiology and a PhD in physical anthropology, I have a particular interest in using this knowledge to improve and optimise ancient DNA sampling methods, by making them more efficient and less destructive to invaluable archaeological skeletons.

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HEAS member Muhammad Bilal Sharif successfully completes PhD. Congratulations Dr. Sharif!

We are pleased to share that a HEAS member, Muhammad Bilal Sharif, has successfully completed his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Elmira Mohandesan and Prof. Katrin Schaefer. He defended his thesis "The Threads of Time in Equine Management: A Genetic Exploration of Iron Age and Roman Equids, and New Zealand's Feral Horses" on January 5th, 2024. Congratulations to Dr. Sharif on this remarkable achievement!

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HEAS Virtual Anthropology Group releases free 3D data of Australopithecus afarensis cranium

The virtual reconstruction of the Ethiopian Australopithecus afarensis specimen A.L. 444-2 from Hadar was now released for free use in the digital@rchive of fossil hominoids https://www.virtual-anthropology.com/3d-data/free-data/   The reconstruction was made in the Virtual Anthropology Lab at University of Vienna by Sascha Senck, Stefano Benazzi, Gerhard Weber, and others. It is described in detail in the supplement of “Ledogar, J. A., Senck, S., Villmoare, B. A., Smith, A. L., Weber, G. W., Richmond, B. G., Dechow, P. C., Ross, C. F., Grosse, I. R., Wright, B. W., Wang, Q., Byron, C., Benazzi, S., Carlson, K. J., Carlson, K. B., McIntosh, L. C., Van Casteren, A., & Strait, D. S. (2022). Mechanical compensation in the evolution of the early hominin feeding apparatus [Article]. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 289(1977), Article 20220711. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2022.0711   The surface file of the reconstructed cranium and the endocast are available.

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A genetic history of the Balkans from Roman frontier to Slavic migrations.

Olalde, I., Carrión, P., Mikić, I., Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Lazaridis, I., Mah, M., Korać, M., Golubović, S., Petković, S., Miladinović-Radmilović, N., Vulović, D., Alihodžić, T., Ash, A., Baeta, M., Bartík, J., Bedić, Ž., Bilić, M., Bonsall, C., Bunčić, M., Bužanić, D., Carić, M., Čataj, L., Cvetko, M., Drnić, I., Dugonjić, A., Đukić, A., Đukić, K., Farkaš, Z., Jelínek, P., Jovanovic, M., Kaić, I., Kalafatić, H., Krmpotić, M., Krznar, S., Leleković, T., M. de Pancorbo, M., Matijević, V., Milošević Zakić, B., Osterholtz, A.J., Paige, J.M., Tresić Pavičić, D., Premužić, Z., Rajić Šikanjić, P., Rapan Papeša, A., Paraman, L., Sanader, M., Radovanović, I., Roksandic, M., Šefčáková, A., Stefanović, S., Teschler-Nicola, M., Tončinić, D., Zagorc, B., Callan, K., Candilio, F., Cheronet, O., Fernandes, D., Kearns, A., Lawson, A.M., Mandl, K., Wagner, A., Zalzala, F., Zettl, A., Tomanović, Ž., Keckarević, D., Novak, M., Harper, K., McCormick, M., Pinhasi, R., Grbić, M., Lalueza-Fox, C., Reich, D., 2023. A genetic history of the Balkans from Roman frontier to Slavic migrations. Cell 186, 5472-5485.e5479. read more

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The Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) Team Leaders

Barbara HOREJS

Deputy Head

I am Professor for Prehistory and Scientific Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, where I am heading the Department for Prehistory & WANA Archaeology. My research focuses on late Pleistocene to Holocene phenomena in Southeast Europe and West Asia with excavations and geoarchaeological surveys to produce, analyse and model new primary data of early communities and their environmental contexts. I enjoy working with interdisciplinary teams of students, ECR’s and experts to gain new insights into neolithization, intensification & centralisation.    

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Identification of constrained sequence elements across 239 primate genomes

Kuderna, L.F.K., Ulirsch, J.C., Rashid, S., Ameen, M., Sundaram, L., Hickey, G., Cox, A.J., Gao, H., Kumar, A., Aguet, F., Christmas, M.J., Clawson, H., Haeussler, M., Janiak, M.C., Kuhlwilm, M., Orkin, J.D., Bataillon, T., Manu, S., Valenzuela, A., Bergman, J., Rouselle, M., Silva, F.E., Agueda, L., Blanc, J., Gut, M., de Vries, D., Goodhead, I., Harris, R.A., Raveendran, M., Jensen, A., Chuma, I.S., Horvath, J.E., Hvilsom, C., Juan, D., Frandsen, P., Schraiber, J.G., de Melo, F.R., Bertuol, F., Byrne, H., Sampaio, I., Farias, I., Valsecchi, J., Messias, M., da Silva, M.N.F., Trivedi, M., Rossi, R., Hrbek, T., Andriaholinirina, N., Rabarivola, C.J., Zaramody, A., Jolly, C.J., Phillips-Conroy, J., Wilkerson, G., Abee, C., Simmons, J.H., Fernandez-Duque, E., Kanthaswamy, S., Shiferaw, F., Wu, D., Zhou, L., Shao, Y., Zhang, G., Keyyu, J.D., Knauf, S., Le, M.D., Lizano, E., Merker, S., Navarro, A., Nadler, T., Khor, C.C., Lee, J., Tan, P., Lim, W.K., Kitchener, A.C., Zinner, D., Gut, I., Melin, A.D., Guschanski, K., Schierup, M.H., Beck, R.M.D., Karakikes, I., Wang, K.C., Umapathy, G., Roos, C., Boubli, J.P., Siepel, A., Kundaje, A., Paten, B., Lindblad-Toh, K., Rogers, J., Marques Bonet, T., Farh, K.K.-H., 2023. Identification of constrained sequence elements across 239 primate genomes. Nature. read more

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Investigating the co-occurrence of Neanderthals and modern humans in Belgium through direct radiocarbon dating of bone implements

Abrams, G., Devièse, T., Pirson, S., De Groote, I., Flas, D., Jungels, C., Jadin, I., Cattelain, P., Bonjean, D., Mathys, A., Semal, P., Higham, T., Di Modica, K., 2024. Investigating the co-occurrence of Neanderthals and modern humans in Belgium through direct radiocarbon dating of bone implements. Journal of Human Evolution 186, 103471.   read more

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HEAS member Mathias Mehofer awarded with a EU-H2020-IPERION grant

Congratulations to VIAS-HEAS Member Mathias MEHOFER on being awarded a standalone EU-H2020-IPERION project titled “Hallmetals-Archaeometallurgical analyses on metals from the famous Iron Age cemetery of Hallstatt, Austria. The discovery of the famous cemetery of Hallstatt, Austria, with its rich and spectacular grave goods gave its name to an entire prehistoric culture – the Hallstatt culture (ca. 8th to the 4th cent. BC). These metal objects, which are nowadays housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (NHM), represent a remarkable and, to date unexplored, (archaeometallurgical) pool to examine the wide-ranging exchange connections of the prehistoric salt miners. As a first step, a set of 130 metals (gold and copper based objects) covering the time span of the 8th to the 4th century BC, will be examined for their chemical composition and metal provenance. For the first time, the generated archaeometallurgical database will allow for in-depth analyses of Iron Age metal exchange to the region over vast distances.   Project partners: Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Karina Grömer, Mag. Dr. Georg Tiefengraber, Mag. Daniel Oberndorfer, Conservator-Restorer, Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna Prof. Dr. Ernst Pernicka, CEZA Mannheim, Germany   More information can be found on the following homepage

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Improved detection of methylation in ancient DNA

Sawyer, S., Gelabert, P., Yakir, B., Lizcano, A.L., Sperduti, A., Bondioli, L., Cheronet, O., Neugebauer-Maresch, C., Teschler-Nicola, M., Novak, M., Pap, I., Szikossy, I., Hajdu, T., Meshorer, E., Carmel, L., Pinhasi, R., 2023. Improved detection of methylation in ancient DNA. bioRxiv, 2023.2010.2031.564722. read more

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