Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment

Geoarchaeology Collection

The Geoarchaeology Collection is the largest of its kind worldwide, with more than 15,000 objects. It consists of sediment peels, loose sediment samples, resin-indurated sediment blocks and thin sections, as well as original field documentation and photographs.

The collection is actively growing as research projects conducted by scientists from Senckenberg and Tübingen add samples for archiving.

A large portion of the collection was donated by Prof. Paul Goldberg (Boston University) and Dr. Richard Macphail (University College of London) who were instrumental in establishing micromorphology as a central technique in geoarchaeology. Paul Goldberg’s collection includes material spanning several decades of work in Europe, Africa, the Near East and North America. It includes samples from such key sites as Kebara Cave, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, and Pech de l’Áze. Richard Macphail’s collection contains material from a wide range of time periods and sites, including Lower Paleolithic Boxgrove through Roman-aged London. The collection is currently being digitally archived and documented and thin sections are recorded in plane and cross-polarized light at high resolution using a digital scanner.

The collection serves as a key resource for research, and a number of our active projects employ collection material. The collection also attracts a large number of external researchers who visit the collection to conduct comparative analyses. Additionally, the collection forms the basis for a number of training programs and courses offered through the University of Tübingen.

In addition to archaeological materials, the Geoarchaeology Collection includes a modern reference collection of biological and geological materials in thin section. Of particular note is our large collection of animal coprolites (both extant and extinct species).