Katharina Benkhoff

Title: The anthropological study of the Únětice population from Reiser/ Ammern, Thuringia, with emphasis on recording selected measurements of postcranial robusticity

70 skeletons and other skeletal elements from Reiser and Ammern, Thuringia, were provided by the Thuringian State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology. The skeletons were excavated between 2017 and 2019. They are predominantly dated to the European Early Bronze Age (2200 – 1600 BC), but some to the Corded Ware Culture (around 2500 BC) and to the Middle/ Late Bronze Age (up to 800 BC).
The finds in Reiser/ Ammern are a stroke of luck, because skeletons from the Early Bronze Age are rare. Additionally, the historical period has aroused interest with the discovery of the Nebra Sky Disc. The creators of the disc are known as Únětice – a prosperous civilisation with a strict social hierarchy. The skeletal remains excavated at Reiser/ Ammern provides an opportunity to further explore this society.
In this master´s thesis, in addition to basic individual data such as biological sex, age-at-death, body size, and pathologies, selected indicators of the robustness of the postcranial skeleton will be recorded. For this purpose, humerus, radius, ulna, femur, and tibia will be measured and their calculated robustness indices will be compared between sexes. As shown in the Únětice populations Großbrembach and Schloßvippach, little sexual dimorphism in the robustness of the postcranial skeleton can be expected. Regardless of whether significant dimorphism is detected, the results are compared with other European Bronze Age populations (Großbrembach, Schloßvippach, and the Lichtensteinhöhle).
It will be investigated how sexual dimorphism develops in relation to robustness during the Bronze Age. It is known from cremation studies that dimorphism decreases significantly in the diachronic course from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age.
A complementary genetic study is being randomly sampled to explore the state of preservation of DNA in the bones of the Reiser/ Ammern individuals, which will serve as the basis for further molecular genetic studies.


  • Flux AL, Euskirchen A, Benkhoff K, Mazanec J, Grosskopf B (im Druck) Die Oldenburger Familienlinie - Weiterführende molekulargenetische Untersuchungen an Skelettmaterial aus der St. Lamberti Kirche. In: Oldenburger Forschungen, Isensee Verlag.