Welcome to the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard (SoHP)

We are creating a supra-departmental, cross-divisional and inter-school network that brings historians and archaeologists together with other scholars and scientists to chart bold new answers to the age-old question: what is history? SoHP serves as a center for scholarly programming and innovative new courses and will network new research collaborations across departments and disciplines. We hope to develop a certificate program and/or an undergraduate major or minor as well as postgraduate degree programs that will attract students interested in redrawing the map of the human past with the tools of 21st-century science and history.

Announcing ... the Max Planck Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM)


Analysis of DNA extracted from ancient remains has since 2010 had a transformative effect on studies of the human past.  However, the insights from these studies have for the most part been restricted to “pre-history” – the period prior to the time of writing – and to northern regions where DNA preserves better. These methods are only beginning to be applied in warm climates, and to time periods corresponding to the rise of civilization in the Ancient Mediterranean.


The Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard (SoHP) is delighted to announce the formation of a major new center for the study of the Ancient Mediterranean using ancient DNA and other related scientific methods (e.g., isotopic, spatial, radiocarbon, paleoenvironmental approaches). The Max Planck Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM) is a platform to engage and involve interested colleagues and students towards discovering new data which will provoke us to re-think and revise many of our contemporary perspectives on cultural engagement, migration and human health history.  The main research sites for MHAAM are the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany (Johannes Krause’s group), and Harvard University with the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, and several research groups including those of Michael McCormick, Nick Patterson, David Reich and Noreen Tuross.


Following the initial Harvard Town Hall meeting about the new program earlier this year,  MHAAM announces an Inaugural Meeting of the MHAAM  at Harvard University to present initial results of ongoing research and to mark the signing of the agreement between the Max Planck Society and SoHP on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Details will follow.


For more information, contact Lisa Ransom Lubarr at llubarr@fas.harvard.edu

Steering Committee

Chair: Michael McCormick (FAS, History)

SoHP Student Blog