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Durham University

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Mr Raphael Kahlenberg, BA, MA

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I studied Prehistory and Protohistory, Archaeology of the Ancient Near East as well as Classical Archaeology in Heidelberg, Germany, where I focused on the Bronze Age Mediterranean and the Early Middle Ages. The preparation of my undergraduate thesis about a Mycenaean river diversion near the palatial site of Tiryns (Greece) aroused my interest in geoarchaeology and socio-environmental systems. My long-term involvement in the Tiryns project also offered me the opportunity to receive training in microarchaeological methods, including infrared spectroscopy, phytolith analysis and soil micromorphology at the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science and the University of Haifa. In my Master’s thesis about Mycenaean domestic hearths, I made use of these techniques to study individual and group identities expressed by practices related to foodways. Before I started my PhD project in Durham, I worked at the University of Salzburg for a project on Aegina Kolonna (Greece), where I was responsible for the development of a new site database and Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry.

Current Research Topic

Lindisfarne Landscapes: Geoarchaeological Approaches to Human-Environment-Relations


The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a small tidal island on the coast of Northumberland in northeast England. It has an eventful history, both in terms of cultural changes and landscape evolution. During the periods that are best attested in the archaeological and historical records, from the Anglo-Saxon period (5th to 11th centuries AD) onwards, it has seen cycles in the intensities of economic, political and religious importance. Previous studies suggest that at the same time, profound changes in vegetation cover, hydrology and dune development took place. However, while current archaeological excavations in the South of the island provide invaluable new insights in the development of habitation and ecclesiastical history, patterns of land use and misuse, as well as the influence of climatic factors remain mostly unknown. This project aims at reconstructing the Holocene landscape evolution of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, focusing on the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods and at understanding human-environmental-relations. It will make use of extensive and intensive soil and sediment surveys and a suite of analytical methods, including thin-section micromorphology, foraminifera and phytolith analyses as well as OSL and radiocarbon dating.
My PhD project is accompanied by a CASE placement with community archaeology company DigVentures, which collaborates with Durham University to study the area of the presumed location of the Anglo-Saxon monastery since 2016.

Scholarships and Grants

 • 2020-2022/23: German Academic Scholarship Foundation: doctoral scholarship maintenance grant for 2+1 years (depending on the project’s progress)
 • 2020-2023: NERC IAPETUS2 Doctoral Studentship, covering tuition fees
 • 2020-2023: NERC IAPETUS2 Research and Training Support Grant (£9460)
 • 2021: Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland Research Grant 

External Supervision

 • Dr Jeremy Lloyd (Department of Geography)
 • Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito (Newcastle University)


Journal Article

  • Prijatelj, Agni, Kahlenberg, Raphael & Milek, Karen (2020). Geoarchaeological Investigations at Lindisfarne, Northumberland: Soil Survey and Assessment in 2018 and 2019. Medieval Settlement Research 35: 93-99.
  • Kahlenberg, Raphael & Shahack-Gross, Ruth (2016). Microarchaeological Studies of Hearths in the Northwestern Lower Town of Tiryns. Archäologischer Anzeiger (2): 82-86.

Conference Paper

  • Kahlenberg, Raphael (2021), Lindisfarne Landscapes: Geoarchaeological Approaches to Human‐Environment Interactions on Holy Island (Northumberland, United Kingdom), European Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting. Kiel, Germany.


  • Kahlenberg, Raphael (2020). Geoarchaeological Research on Holy Island. Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, Newsletter 32.

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