Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH)

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The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena was founded in 2014 to target fundamental questions of human history and evolution since the Paleolithic.

From the vantage point of three interdisciplinary research departments – the Department of Archaeogenetics (Dir. Johannes Krause), the Department of Archaeology (Dir. Nicole Boivin), and the Department of Cultural and Linguistic Evolution (Dir. Russell Gray) – the MPI-SHH pursues an integrative approach to the study of human history that bridges the traditional divide between the natural sciences and the humanities. By assembling experts from research areas as diverse as palaeogenetics, proteomics, bioinformatics, anthropology, archaeology, history, and quantitative linguistics, the MPI-SHH seeks to join and advance a broad range of methods, approaches, and datasets to explore big questions of the human past. Using state-of-the-art analytical techniques and technologies, the MPI-SHH tackles these and other topics:  

  • the settlement history of the world through past human migrations and genetic admixture events
  • the spread and diversification of infectious diseases
  • the impact of climatic and environmental change on human subsistence in different world regions
  • human modification of ecosystems
  • the rise of early forms of global trade systems and complex societies
  • the spread and diversification of languages, cultures, and social practices
  • the rise of agriculture
  • the co-evolution of genes and culture

At the Pharmapark site, the institute has high-performance, technologically advanced laboratories for the extraction, reconstruction and analysis of aDNA and ancient proteins from thousands of years-old human remains such as bones or teeth. In addition, the laboratories contain state-of-the-art equipment for the investigation of archaeological findings using mass spectrometry.

Several research projects and independent junior research groups supported by the European Research Council, as well as an international research center with Harvard University, are located at the institute. An International Max Planck Research School in cooperation with FSU Jena is currently being developed.

The institute's campus is located at Kahlaische Straße 10. Beginning in mid-2018, extensive extensions and conversion measures are planned for the campus, including the construction of a new laboratory building.

Further Information is found at www.shh.mpg.deExternal link


Managing director
Prof. Dr. Jonathan Gershenzon
Kahlaische Strasse 10
07745 Jena

Phone: +49 (0)3641 - 686 800

Scientific coordination
Beate KerpenExternal link
Kahlaische Strasse 10
07745 Jena

Phone: +49 (0)3641 - 686 601