The mission of the ZBSA is to carry out archaeological research spanning many periods and regions in Scandinavia, the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea regions, and the former East Prussia (now part of Poland, Russia and Lithuania). Our aim is a multi-facetted reconstruction of the past in interdisciplinary cooperation with scientists in other fields.

Archaeology within the widespread research area of the ZBSA is characterised by scientifically relevant particularities that are reflected in its various fields of research (Research Priorities) These include:

the late settlement of the area after the end of the last Ice Age; its peripheral location with regard to the cultures of Central and south-eastern Europe and their influence; the strong maritime aspect with the resulting economic and social models, as well as – after the Stone Age – limited access to raw materials, which led to the creation of vital communication routes and networks. As a result, the cultures in the Scandinavian and Baltic regions developed individual, but not isolated, solutions and innovations. Typical, also, are the historically relatively long cultural and settlement continuities, which give rise to their own particular scientific challenges.

The academic content of ZBSA’s activity consists of three Strategic Research Areas: Man and Artefact, Man and Society and Man and Environment The next level, as far as content and methods are concerned, is divided into different Research Priorities, in which research issues common to several projects are discussed. Priorities are assigned to the individual Research Areas, although the contents can overlap. Individual projects are always assigned to a specific Research Area even if they are not part of an official Research Priority, although this is an exception.

The ZBSA is thus committed to a holistic research programme, in which archaeology is considered a methodological bridge linking it to other disciplines in the humanities, cultural, social and natural sciences.