Archaeologists at Freie Universität study changes in body size among humans in early history
“Ötzi the Iceman,” whose 5,300-year-old mummy was discovered in the Alps in 1991, is supposed to have been just 160 cm, or 5’3”, tall. Alexander the Great, king of ancient Macedonia, was even shorter, at 150 cm, or 4’11”. Nowadays, the average height for men in Germany is 1.8 meters (about 5’11”) and for women it is about 1.7 meters (about 5’7”). It is frequently said that technological advances have brought greater prosperity, which in turn has caused people to grow taller. A team headed by archaeologist Dr. Eva Rosenstock is taking this as a point of departure in studying data on people’s height – instead of other indicators of affluence, such as GDP. In their activities, the researchers are studying people’s growth during the prehistoric period – at the dawn of human history.
Interview with political scientist Tanja Börzel, coordinator of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at Freie Universität
“The EU and Its Citizens” is the title of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at Freie Universität. The research institution, which is financed by the European Union, aims to gather the academic expertise on the EU present at the university in one place while also opening up the university’s research on EU-related topics to a broader public audience. An interview to mark the center’s final conference with its coordinator, Professor Tanja Börzel: on the research institution’s work and the current state of affairs in the European Union.
Evolutionary biologist Jens Rolff draws inspiration from nature in his research
After twelve years at the University of Sheffield, Jens Rolff returned to Freie Universität at the start of this year – to the university where he first started his studies, some time ago. Back in the 1990s, Berlin-born Rolff sat in the lecture hall as a student, while now he stands at the podium as a professor. He has brought with him from the UK not only a great deal of creative drive, but also a research award from the European Research Council, a wealth of expertise, and an international team. Evolutionary biologist Rolff is full of energy, with a thirst to do new things: “Around here, there’s a bustling sense of progress and new developments,” Rolff says. His research focuses on substances that insects produce to defend themselves against bacteria and parasites.