The Center for Advanced Studies hosts annual symposia, bringing together international scholars working in the fields of archaeology, genetics, linguistics, and paleoanthropology. In order to create a stimulating environment for inter-disciplinary discussion, symposia are small meetings that feature a limited amount of invited speakers.

2023 Eighth annual Symposium: Phenotype-Genotype interactions

The eighth annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen was held between 14th-15th Dec.

The topic of this symposium was “Phenotype-Genotype interactions” with an emphasis on recent major advances in defining the interaction between genes and observable traits. Several recent studies are providing quantitative insights into how the human genome affects phenotypic variation. At the same time, innovative computational techniques are being developed to reveal signatures of biological adaptation through the investigation of natural selection in response to environmental changes, admixture, and archaic introgression, among others. This symposium focused on contributions dealing with extant and extinct hominins for which both present-day and ancient DNA data are available, considered alongside morphological and linguistic records with the aim to help shed light on the evolutionary processes leading to major transformations such as (self)-domestication, the evolution of speech and human cognition. The goal of this symposium was to foster scientific exchange towards a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms affecting past and current morphological, developmental, metabolic, and behavioural characteristics.

2022 Seventh annual Symposium: Evolutionary Perspectives on Tool Manipulation and Gestural Communication

The seventh annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany was held as a hybrid event from the 13rd to 14th of October 2022. 

Emerging evidence in anthropology and linguistics suggests that the use and transmission of stone tool technology in early hominin life may have played a role in the evolution of language. At first sight, tool use may seem to have little to do with vocal language as most of us know it. However, if we turn our attention to the role of the hands – both in the creation and use of stone tools and in the use of linguistic gestures – the possibility of a link starts to become clearer. The aim of this symposium is to provide an interdisciplinary forum to shed light on the complex interplay of factors which shaped early hominin communication.
To this end, we have invited experts from diverse disciplines such as linguistics, primatology, paleoneurology, and cognitive science in order to synthesize recent evidence on the role of gestures, and the hands more broadly, in the evolution of hominin cognitive and linguistic capabilities. 

2021 Sixth annual Symposium: Biocultural Implications

The sixth annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany was held as an hybrid event from the 3rd to 4th of December 2021. 

The course of human evolution is defined by a multifaceted interplay of biological and cultural factors, which comprise the focus of a diverse spectrum of scientific fields, including cultural archaeology, biological anthropology, biomechanics, linguistics, and paleogenetics. Without interdisciplinary frameworks, a compelete and reliable approach to various complex aspects of biocultural evolution would be impossible. Therefore, the symposium intended to build bridges between the different disciplines and to open a forum of discussion on integrative approaches. In order to do so, the symposium included one session on “Theoretical considerations in reconstructions of human behavior”, which envisioned to enable a critical discussion of various hypotheses and / or interdisciplinary methods used to approach aspects of bio-cultural evolution and lifestyle in the past (with a special emphasis on tool use and physical activity). The second session focused on “Biocultural Implications in Language Evolution and Diffusion”, where the combination of cultural, genetic, and social aspects with linguistic components provided new insights in the evolution of languages, their diversity and contact scenarios.

In order to open up a forum of discussion to gain new insights in the biocultural coevolution of the different scientific fields, we invited several recognized scientists who are specialists in their field of research. We experienced two days full of new insights, interdisciplinary exchanges, and interesting discussions.

2019 Fifth annual Symposium: Maritime Connections

The fifth annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany was held from the 12th to 14th of December 2019. The symposium entitled “Maritime Connections” focused on the (pre)history of Island Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. Research in this part of the world has intensified over the last years, with archaeological and paleontological findings pointing to previously unknown hominin populations and new species, as well as evidence for modern human occupation in the region at time periods earlier than previously documented. In addition, the region remains as one of the most linguistically and ecologically diverse in the world, with biological and cultural connections by sea that likely extend into deep, prehistoric time periods. As such, the symposium aimed to consolidate the current knowledge of human occupation in the region and to discuss the mechanisms and dynamics leading to the diversity of languages and peoples living there today.

2018 Fourth annual Symposium: Ancient Connections in Eurasia

The fourth annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany held 13th to 16th of December 2018. The title of this symposium was Ancient Connections in Eurasia, exploring the antiquity and continuity of cultural traditions and linguistic areas since the Paleolithic. It featured talks and discussions by scholars working in the fields of archaeology, genomics, linguistics and evolutionary anthropology.

2017 Third annual Symposium: Modern human origins and dispersal

The third annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies highlighted the theme of modern human origins and dispersal, with a focus on novel, multi-disciplinary research from East Africa. Drawing from the on-going investigations by the Junior Research Group led by Dr. Yonatan Sahle, as well as the collaborative research of the Center’s team and visiting fellows, the symposium provided a venue for discussing the biological and cultural origins and evolution of modern humans, their dispersal within and outside of Africa, and insights from archaeogenetics and historical linguistics. Speakers ofthe symposium presented new and continuing research from field and laboratory work. Symposium proceedings 'Modern Human Origins and Dispersal' is now avaliable on Kerns Verlag Tübingen.

2016 Second annual symposium: New perspectives on the peopling of the Americas

The second annual symposium of the DFG Center for Advanced Studies focused on the peopling of the Americas. Drawing from the success of Dr. Kurt Rademarker’s archaeological field season in Peru as DFG Center fellow in 2015, as well as the on-going research by current long-term fellow Dr. Lumila Menéndez, the symposium aimed to discuss the progress and prospect of integrated, multidisciplinary approaches for reconstructing the peopling of the Americas. Research on the topic has intensified in recent years, with some previously proposed models challenged by new data. Speakers of this symposium presented on new and on-going research on the topic, with dedicated time for discussion on points of convergence and disagreement by the different disciplines.

2015 Inaugural symposium: Words, Bones, Genes, Tools

The inaugural symposium, held in 2015, highlighted the progress and prospect of integrated, multidisciplinary approaches for reconstructing the human past.