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Participants and collaborators

Core team members

Mette Løvschal is PI in ANTHEA and Associate Professor at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University and Moesgaard Museum. She studies deep time changes in landscape organization and social forms, including commoning and processes of enclosure in the grasslands and heathlands of northern Europe in late prehistoric times and in modern-day Kenya. AU homepage

Zachary Adam Caple is postdoc in ANTHEA and co-responsible for WP3. He studies domestication trajectories, geographies of practical anthropogenic disturbances as well as the longue-durée social reproduction and the capacity of heathlands to rebound from extraction-oriented disturbances. AU homepage

Mark Haughton is postdoc in ANTHEA and co-responsible for WP4. He studies the spatial organisation of heathland management responsible for their emergence and extremely long-term persistence. He will be working with these issues across multiple scales, from the spatial organisation of settlement and funerary sites as well as “off-site patterns” to large-scale spatial organisational patterns such as population fluctuations and areal colonization/- abandonment. AU homepage.

Jesper Borre is research assistant with ANTHEA and is helping with the planning of the 2024 Heathland conference. AU homepage

Karen Grønneberg is co-editor on the digital Heathland publication. 

Mia Korsbæk is project administrator in ANTHEA, AU homepage.

External experts and collaborators

Anne Birgitte Nielsen is external expert in ANTHEA and senior lecturer in Quarternary Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. She is expert on quantitative reconstructions of past land cover and vegetation composition in a wider North European perspective and the impact of historical and prehistoric management practices. Personal webpage

Maria José De Abreu is external expert in ANTHEA and assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, the United States of America. She engages with anthropological and philosophical debates on temporality, spaces of tension, medium theory, and political and ecological exhaustion and revitalisation and will be investigating the role of anthropogenic fire in heathland rejuvenation. Personal webpage

Jianbo Gao is external expert in ANTHEA and Distinguished Professor, Institute of Complexity Science and Big Data Technology, Guangxi University, China. He develops new approaches for interdisciplinary applications of complexity science, and is expert on quantitative research and nonlinear dynamics in big data, occurrence patterns, and modelling time scales.

Anna Varga is collaborator in ANTHEA and a postdoc research fellow at the Environmental Humanities Research Group, the Department of European Ethnology – Cultural Anthropology, University of Pécs, Hungary. She focuses on forest and pasture commons and enclosures in the 18-19th century and their short- and long-term impacts on the social-ecological systems. Personal webpage

Affiliated scholars & projects

Grazing regimes and pastoral land use in late prehistoric times
Niels Algreen Møller & Mette Løvschal

This project aims to develop a method for identifying and analyzing animal husbandry and grazing regimes in late prehistoric Denmark. We have identified a number of case study areas in Western and northern Jutland for further analysis. Based on archaeological studies of extensive land use patterns in other northern European areas (e.g. Carlie 1994) and with the inclusion of ethnographic and historical material (e.g. Fridriksson 1972), activities and activity traces that are characteristic of pastoral activities are identified. Against this background, archaeological sites from Northwest Jutland are analyzed in terms of activity traces associated with extensive land use practices and animal husbandry, such as cooking pit sites, animal folds, temporary housing structures such as shelters and cabins, etc. Finally, material and regions suitable for further analysis of prehistoric grazing regimes are identified on the basis of the large archaeological data set from the national cultural-historical database, finds and ancient monuments, available regional pollen diagrams and the identified sites with traces of pastoral activities. 

Niels Algreen Møller is affiliated scholar in ANTHEA and museum curator at Museum Thy. Personal webpage

Uses of the past in present day herding
Emmy Laura Perez Fjalland & Mette Løvschal

Danish heathlands have a rich and deep cultural history as prehistoric remnants such as megaliths and round barrows are still visible in the landscape. A distinct plant and animal life are also part of what makes heathlands worth conserving and protection by national and international policies. Heathland landscapes have historically been maintained through fire management, deforestation and grazing livestock. Sheep grazing held a large role in maintaining heathlands, as sheep helped keep invasive plant species at a low; however herding practices disappeared as a widespread practice in the 19th century, coinciding with the radical national program of turning heathlands into agricultural land. In the past twenty years, shepherdesses in Western Jutland have reinvigorated this practice in present heathland management regimes, suggesting a paradoxical resurrection of past practices in the present, a “living biocultural heritage”, at a time where heathlands are drastically diminishing and where there no longer exists a fundamental socio-economic foundation for this management form. We will be conducting interviews and fieldwork in western Jutland Denmark following shepherdesses as they herd sheep on heathlands; in order to obtain in-depth knowledge of how the past is used as they herd sheep on Danish heathlands. 
The work has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 853356) and Uses of the Past (https://usesofthepast.au.dk).

Emmy Laura Perez Fjalland is affiliated scholar in ANTHEA and lecturer in geography and planning at Roskilde University, Denmark. She is engaged with landscaping and agricultural practices, and works with critical thinking, environmental storytelling, and regenerative and ecological practices. Personal webpage

Heathland resilience
Christian F. Damgaard & Mette Løvschal

Heathland is a particular form of non-stable plagioclimax ecosystem, dependent on disturbances to make heather achieve an advantage over competing species such as grasses and trees and stay put. Its deep time history one of shifting dependencies of and manipulations by multispecies activities. However, we know little about the actual span of heathland vegetational (in)stability and its dependence on particular drivers and conditions, e.g., anthropogenic, climatic, and geological conditions. Therefore, it is vital to know the nature, magnitude, and frequency of such disturbance and the (shifting) importance of different heathland persistence drivers to quantify their initial instability and ultimately dependency on humans. In this subproject, we develop a model for studying the instability span in heathland vegetation: what kinds of, how much, and how frequent disturbance do heathlands need across southern Scandinavia to stay put?

Christian F. Damgaard is Professor in Bioscience, Aarhus University, and expert on mathematical and statistical modelling of plant abundances as well as ecological and evolutionary processes. Personal webpage


Heathland as refuge
David Mehlsen & Mette Løvschal

David Mehlsen is affiliated scholar in ANTHEA; he is a Masters level student in Anthropology at Aarhus University and doing his internship in the project. He studies multispecies entanglements and possibilities for social life in the unruly era of the Anthropocene by attending to questions of relationality, politics and temporality. In particular, he explores how concepts of care and refuge articulate in Danish inland heaths.


Ellen Martine Heuser

Ellen Martine Heuser (*1990, Copenhagen) lives and works in Berlin. She graduated from Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in 2018. Her artistic practice explores the hidden potentials of Sculpture through sculptural installations, excavations and performative works. Her work is an artistic quest to get in touch with sculpture as a phenomenon and not as an object: to experience and overcome the aesthetic-political body of sculpture.

Ellen Martine Heuser contributes to the research project ANTHEA with a new work based on her portfolio of sculptural 'earthworks'. The work is intended to be a site-specific heathwork that exposes the processes or layers of soil (e.g. “allag” or the root system of the heather) that are not visible to the human eye. The motivation is to let the heath itself be the material of a sculpture that takes place. A sculpture that takes shape precisely by virtue of a human intervention, which is a precondition for the maintenance of the heath.

In addition, the project seeks to enter into dialogue with some of the fundamental human practices and disturbances on the heath by (turf-)digging or burning a specific material form; a sculpture or memorial, on the heath. The work is intended to be carried out as a site-specific excavation, turf-digging or burning in Denmark or Germany.

The earthwork ‘Mindesmærke der synliggør sin væren i Heden’ (2023) (eng: Memorial which makes its being visible in the Heath) has received two grants for the production from Danish Arts Foundation (30.000 DKK) and Grosserer L. F. Foghts Fond (37.000 DKK). 

Furthermore the work will be realized with support from Naturstyrelsen, Læsø Artist in Residence / Læsø Kunst og Kultur and Hvolris Jernalderlandsby - Viborg Museum.


Human-animal relations in the Danish Single Grave Culture

Emilie Bregendahl was an intern with ANTHEA and has now finished her MA in Archaeology at AU with top grades. She collected data on non-human osteological remains from Single Grave Culture locations in the Danish heathland to provide a larger perspective on human-animal relations of this period. You can read more about that project here


Modelling heathlands

Willem Koster, University of St. Andrews, was affiliated to ANTHEA for a one-month sprint in spring 2023 to produce a map series of the early heathland expansion in western Jutland, Denmark, based on already available (pollen) data. The map will provide a coarse starting point for identifying areas of further interest for follow-up studies and sampling, as well as potential heathland sites, including heathland farms.


Havananda Ombashi has ended her contract as postdoc in ANTHEA. She studied grazing and anthropogenic pressure through pollen, NPPs and charcoal dust and uses age/depth modelling of lake sediments, pollen/vegetation modeling and statistical analysis to reconstruct heathland management practices. AU homepage.


Previous research assisants with ANTHEA


Kirstine Stæhr Gregersen 

Victoria Lyder Tissot 

Johan Sandvang Larsen