Archaeologists in the Rhine-Main area form a regional network

The Rhine-Main Archaeology Association (VARM; Verbund Archäologie Rhein-Main) represents an important focus of archaeological work in the Rhine-Main region. This network of archaeologically active institutions was initiated by the three universities in Darmstadt, Frankfurt, and Mainz, the two universities of applied sciences in Mainz and Wiesbaden, and, as non-university research institutions, the Roman-Germanic Central Museum Mainz (RGZM) and the Roman-Germanic Commission (RGK) of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Frankfurt. The regional state departments for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and various museums are also going to participate in the project. Furthermore, representatives of other disciplines related to archaeology are welcome to join the association. The institutions involved wish to create a network of partners that covers an extraordinarily broad spectrum of archaeological work, research, and teaching while also bringing together a wide range of expertise and resources.

Exhibits in the Classical Archaeology Collection at Mainz University (photo: Peter Pulkowski)

"There aren't many regions in Germany that possess this extent of university and non-university know-how in the field of archaeology, all of which makes the Rhine-Main area a very special one," emphasized Professor Friederike Fless, President of the German Archaeology Institute, in her speech at the VARM kick-off event in November 2015. Attended by numerous colleagues from a wide variety of institutions, the event served to provide an introduction to the project and played host to discussions about the potential and opportunities that will result from collaboration. The planned cooperation will focus especially on research, teaching, and the promotion of talented young researchers, the support of existing academic infrastructures, and the further development of communication pathways. The preparation of a wide-ranging joint research project has already commenced and ideas for future projects are currently being drafted and discussed.

With such a broad spectrum of interests united in one body, the cooperating partners are expecting a wealth of valuable input: "Academic collaboration will be easier, and we will be able to more easily access and more effectively share our infrastructures. In the teaching arena we want to put in place new options that the partners on their own simply wouldn't be able to offer. In addition, the association will allow us to more smoothly integrate our numerous international contacts into the Rhine-Main area."

The VARM cooperation partners cover a vast period of time in their research: from the earliest phases of human evolution to the Middle Ages and the early modern era, with a geographical emphasis on Europe, Asia, and Africa. On top of that, the archaeological disciplines possess a broad spectrum of methodologies that will be positively augmented by the natural sciences. "It's great that our institutions complement each other's research and work so well. It's a trump card that we can certainly make the most of in the future," the initiators agreed.