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Dr. Martin Schönfelder

Research Interests:

European Iron Age, La Tène period, Celts, cultural contacts, cultural and social practices, urbanisation and centralisation, Oppida, palaeoenvironmental research


Martin Schönfelder is an archaeologist at the "Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)" in Mainz. He studied in Regensburg, Marburg and Oxford and received his Ph.D. in 2000 under Otto-Herman Frey with a thesis on a Late Celtic chariot tomb in France. This was followed by a post-doctoral year in Burgundy, which he spent in the research centre of Bibracte. Martin works on many fields of Iron Age archaeology in Europe (5th to 1st century BC). One focus of his work is in France, where he is also deeply rooted in the Iron Age community. 

For several years he has been working on the phenomena of increasingly complex societies in the pre-Roman Iron Age, especially mobility and migration (Celtic migrations) and Celtic art. The study of large open settlements as focal points for crafts and art is also one of his topics. New archaeological insights into the Battle of Orange in 105 BC now raise the question of a synchronization of Iron Age cultures in Central Europe (La Tène, Jastorf, Przeworsk) and settlement dynamics in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Project Abstract

Looking at the last two centuries BCE, a paradoxical situation has developed in Central and Western Europe. On the one hand, a remarkable unification process of material and cultural phenomena is clearly visible, connecting the three important cultural areas (Northern Germany: Jastorf Circle; Poland: Przeworsk Culture; Center: La Tène Culture). At the same time, a 'Babylonian confusion' (Miron) of chronological concepts has emerged, which prevents us from connecting the developmental phases of the three areas; especially the absolute chronology varies decisively. As a result, no clear statements can be made about the simultaneity of developments or about regional delays and specific temporalities. The mutual quest for synchronization and synchronicity provides us with a fruitful approach to solve this unsatisfactory situation and to achieve a decisive surplus for the cultural interpretation of the achieved developments.

The key to our joint project (with Piotr Luczkiewicz, coordinated by Prof. Michael Meyer) will be the synchronization of chronological systems based on the identification of widely distributed elements of material culture. This requires a critical view of horizontification by consequently asking whether similar objects were in fact contemporary - which will be supported by a critical evaluation of available absolute dates. Since chronological systems can be read as mapping intensities of cultural change, a successful synchronization will subsequently allow us to analyze and interpret the overarching, simultaneous cultural change processes that will become clearly visible.

Within the framework of our project, we will work on this synchronization by evaluating the current state of research for the La Tène (Schönfelder), Przeworsk (Łuczkiewicz), and Jastorf (Meyer) cultures and combining the results into an overarching chronological concept.

Curriculum vitae

Since 2020

Collaboration on the new permanent exhibition at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA), former Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM)


DFG project “Mobilität und Migration in der Eisenzeit (4./3. Jh. v. Chr.). Archäologische und bioarchäometrische Ansätze zum Nachweis von Einheimischen und Zuwanderern“, with Ch. Pare & K.W. Alt


DFG project “Keltische und römische Besiedlung im unmittelbaren Umfeld des Oppidums Bibracte (Burgund, Frankreich)“, with P. Haupt

Since 2005 

Elected member of the commission of the French Iron Age Association AFEAF


Editor in chief of Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt, RGZM edition

Since 2001 

Associated member of UMR 6298 ARTeHIS, Dijon 

Since 2001 

Member of the staff of RGZM research institute, since 2007 Konservator


Postdoc grant of the region of Burgundy, at the Bibracte research center


Ph.D. University Marburg/Lahn; Ph.D. grant of the RGZM research institute


Studies of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Anthropology and Classical Archaeology, universities Marburg, Regensburg, Oxford.

Selected Publications

2021. "Absolute Chronologie der Spätlatènezeit: Fragen und Anregungen aus einem überregionalen Ansatz". In Die Chronologie der Vorrömischen Eisen- und Frühen Kaiserzeit in Mittel- und Südosteuropa: Probleme und Perspektiven, edited by Eugen Sava et al., 115-127. Chişinău, Berlin: Bons.

2019, ed. with St. Fichtl, P. Barral and G. Pierrevelcin. Les agglomérations ouvertes de l’Europe celtique (IIIe-Ier s. av. J.-C). Offene Großsiedlungen im keltischen Europa (3.-1. Jh. v. Chr.). Strasbourg: Association pour la Valorisation de l'Archéologie du Grand Est.

2013, with T. Moore et al. "Oppida, agglomerations and suburbia. The Bibracte environs and new perspectives on Late Iron Age urbanism in central-eastern France". European Journal of Archaeology 16 (3), 491-517.

2008 (2011), with P. Łuczkiewicz. "Untersuchungen zur Ausstattung eines späteisenzeitlichen Reiterkriegers aus dem südlichen Karpathen- oder Balkanraum". Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums 55, 59-210. 

2008, ed. with F. Falkenstein and H. Stäuble. Langfristige Erscheinungen und Brüche von der Bronze- zur Eisenzeit. Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas 51. Langenweißbach: Beier & Beran. 

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