current research

Cave tracking for human spoor is being intensified and broadened in its scope. With the research weeks spent in Aldène and Tuc d’Audoubert in October 2018 rich data on several hundred spoor are available now and many individuals could be followed in their doings in the caves partly over considerable distances. The evidence from these analyses of the trackers will partly be amended through scientific investigations on the same spoor by colleagues who use various methods of scanning and 3D analysis.

Tracking in rock art is a focus of research that is being realised together with a team of Prof. Peter Breunig of the University of Frankfurt. In this project (funded by DFG) the tracking expertise of the indigenous ichnologists is applied to engravings of animal spoor in prehistoric rock art of Namibia (for more details see Field Research 2018/Namibia {LINK}). The research that started with the on-site anamnesis of spoor in September 2018 will now turn to analyses of database of the more than 500 clearly identified track marks. Special focus will be put on the rich spectrum of species of which a fair number are from animals that require a more humid climate than that which prevails in the region nowadays.

Tracking and computational archaeology is a third project in which the traditional knowledge of the San trackers forms the methodological core. This project (funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung) will again lead into the Doro !nawas region in central western Namibia. Research will be based on the archaeological map that has emerged from the research of the University of Frankfurt in this region (with more than 150 archaeological sites). The trackers will start from some of the large sites that were intensely used in the Later Stone Age (identifiable through masses of stone artefacts and rich rock art) for hunting bouts that are based on their traditional method: tracking. There will be a „thick documentation“ of these bouts with data on the terrain, with body data and  data on the decisions taken along the way (why change of direction etc.). After many hunting trips all these fine-grained data will be used to come to algorithms that allow to realistically model the walking paths of hunters in an undisturbed landscape with rich game animals and many archaeological sites.