The Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research was founded in 1938. Since then research is focused mainly on the Holocene landscape development of the clay district of the southern North Sea and its Pleistocene hinterland (‘geest’ and mires) as well as on settlement history, settlement structures and economy. The most important factor influencing and shaping the region is the rising sea level and its fluctuations since the end of the last glaciation 11500 years ago whereas the reason for establishing the institute has been the theory of the sinking coast – due to archaeological finds below sea level.
From the beginning until today several disciplines (archaeology, geography, geology and botany) are working together at the institute to reconstruct all aspects of the former environment (landscape archaeology). Large excavations have been conducted in this area with excellent preservation conditions to shed light on the daily life, on husbandry, trade and development of social structures. Pollenanalytical and archaeobotanical studies pinpoint vegetation history in close relation to human activity and climatic changes as well as the history of cultural plants.