The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History conducts basic research using modern analytical methods with the aim of a multidisciplinary and integrated science of human history. It seeks to bridge the gap between historical disciplines and the natural sciences. Scientists from a range of fields, such as biology, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology and history jointly work on innovative methods, in particular in the fields of cutting-edge genetic and proteomic sequencing, bioinformatics, archaeological science, computational modeling, language databases, and phylogeography. This thoroughly integrated, interdisciplinary approach will address long-standing questions about human history – including some previously deemed difficult, or even completely intractable – as well as novel questions inspired by the new horizons that cutting edge methods open up.

The institute was founded in March 2014. Founding directors are Johannes Krause, who leads the Department of Archaeogenetics,  and Russell Gray, director of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution. A third department, the Department of Archaeology started on 1 August, 2016 under the directorship of Nicole Boivin. In addition the institute hosts two independent Research Groups: Eurasia3angle (Head: Martine Robbeets) funded by the European Research Council and Minds and Traditions (Head: Olivier Morin) funded by the Max Planck Society. About 140 people are currently working for the institute out of which about 120 work as scientists or lab technicians and 20 people are employed in the service groups such as library, IT department, infographics, PR and administration.

With the establishment of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, historical and evolutionary research finds a home where a broad range of biological and cultural questions about human history and development can be addressed using innovative methods, while Jena re-emerges as a global centre for phylogenetic and evolutionary studies [PDF].