Urgeschichte und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie

Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP), Tübingen

Further information on the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment

As of October 2009, the “Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment” was built and established at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. In May 2017 SHEP became an institute of the Leibniz Association. 

SHEP is comprised of the following seven working groups in the Department of Geosciences:

  • Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology (Prof. Nicholas Conard)
  • Archaeo- and Paleogenetics (Junior-Prof. Cosimo Posth)
  • Biogeology (Prof. Hervé Bocherens)
  • Geoarchaeology (Prof. Christopher Miller)
  • Micropaleontology Dr. Annett Junginger)
  • Paleoanthropology (Prof. Katerina Harvati)
  • Paleontology (Prof. Madelaine Böhme)

Since 2017, the managing director of SHEP has been Prof. Nicholas Conard (deputy director Prof. Hervé Bocherens).

The scientific coordination is conducted by Dr. Sibylle Wolf.

SHEP-Tübingen deals with various aspects of the biological and cultural evolution of humans and apes, as well as with climate and environmental development throughout the Cenozoic. The cooperation between Senckenberg and the University of Tübingen also concerns teaching, as well as the curation of the extensive paleozoological, paleobotanical, archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, and geoarchaeological collections at the University of Tübingen by Senckenberg. These internationally renowned collections are a unique feature of SHEP.

The biological and cultural evolution of humans in their environment is a central issue for humanity. The research of SHEP is based on the assumption that biological and early cultural evolution of humans and their ancestors has been significantly influenced by changes in the paleoenvironment and paleoclimate. Cultural evolution gradually played an increasing roll starting about 2.5 million years ago. Methods such as genetics, isotope geochemistry, geological and geochronological techniques, climate and environmental reconstructions, and the analysis of archaeological artifacts are used to study the interactions between human biology, culture, and the environment.

There is excellent research and teaching infrastructure. Research is field-oriented and numerous excavations take place worldwide. SHEP Tübingen is an internationally unique collection of research expertise in the areas of biogeology, evolutionary anthropology, geoarchaeology, paleobotany, paleogenetics, paleozoology, paleontology, paleoclimatology, and prehistory.

The work of SHEP pursues scientifically and socially relevant research topics, which is internationally unique in its approach and coherence, and enjoys considerable societal attention. 


In 2020, a joint “3D imaging” lab between Senckenberg and the University of Tübingen will be established, which houses a new DFG-funded μCT. In addition to research, the digitalization of the extensive collections will be a priority of the lab.

Last update: November 2020