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Rain Brings Artifacts to Light

British archaeologist Kevin Lane is an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at Freie Universität

May 03, 2012

Der britische Archäologe Dr. Kevin John Lane forscht am Prähistorischen Institut der Freien Universität und als Gast von Prof. Dr. Michael Meyer, Topoi-Sprecher der Freien Universität Berlin.
The British archaeologist Dr. Kevin Lane is a researcher at the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology at Freie Universität Berlin. Image Credit: Verena Blindow

Kevin Lane owes his career as an archaeologist to heavy rainfall and a healthy dose of coincidence. Lane made his first discovery at the age of six, in his hometown of Gibraltar: parts of a human skeleton, long buried behind the city wall that had been washed free by heavy rain. Lane, now 40, holds a doctorate in archaeology and is currently doing research as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at Freie Universität Berlin.

For a seasoned archaeologist, making that kind of find at that spot might not have been anything out of the ordinary. After all, in the 19th century, the victims of epidemics were customarily buried in mass graves on the outskirts of the city. But for the young Lane, the adventure marked the start of his archaeological career.

After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees elsewhere in the UK, Lane completed a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, writing his dissertation on the connections between society and the economy in the north of Peru during the era of the Inca culture. Although his research has focused primarily on Peru since then, he is currently concentrating on another country in South America: Argentina.

As an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research fellow, Lane is currently doing research at the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology of Freie Universität Berlin. Together with his host and mentor, Professor Michael Meyer, Lane has developed a research project centering on drawing a fundamental comparison between the Inca Empire and the Roman Empire. The researchers are studying the relationship between native peoples under colonial rule and their independent neighbors.

As one example, Lane mentions the copying of military strategies: “When the Incas started conquering the tribes in the southern part of their empire, other tribes adopted the same strategies of conquest because they saw that they worked.” Lane compares the situation on the Germanic/Roman border on the Rhine and Elbe rivers with the southern boundary of the Inca Empire, in northwestern Argentina. He also hopes that his work will bring scholars from Europe and South America together and boost general interest in the topic.

Lane first came to Berlin in 1994, spending five and a half years working as an archaeologist for various companies. During that period, he learned German and met Professor Michael Meyer – director of the Topoi cluster of excellence since 2011 – who invited him to return to Berlin in 2010. He feels right at home at Freie Universität, Lane says. He hopes to keep in touch with scholars from Freie Universität even after finishing his research project. What’s next after that? “I have a lot of options,” Lane says. “Let’s see what the future holds.”

Further Information

Kevin Lane, Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, Email: