The research methodology will be detailed, mentioning, as much as possible, some milestones. In the elaboration of this section the following aspects will be revealed:
1) Choosing the investigation methods and tools, by relating to the newest approaches in the field and also the way these will be integrated. At the level of the investigation methods, we intend to compare the indicators of evolution of the biodiversity established for the two sequences in order to address the following questions: (1) Were the taxonomic diversity changes induced by the climatic variations: in their magnitude, in their rhythm or in their nature (taxa or ecological niche affected)?; (2) May be used the processed bones as index fossils, meaning that we may identify transformation schemes circumscribed to a type of economy?; (3) Can we subordinate the types of raw materials used in the osseous industry to the type of economy practiced by the community (e.g., the bones of wild species used with preponderance at the communities of hunters-gatherers and the bones of domestic animals and the farmers communities)? The new concepts like niche construction theory (Laland and O’Brien 2010) or eco-cultural niche modelling (Bank et al. 2008) are increasingly used internationally in recent years representing an upward trend in research and we consider the matter proposed in this project as being very topical. These are entirely unique approaches in the landscape of the archaeology and biology studies in the North-Danubian space. In this sense we will use the information offered by several representative archaeological ensembles, especially those from the Iron Gates.
2) A work plan, well scheduled, which will describe the way of organizing and planning the project, related to the proposed objectives. In point of the proposed objectives, the logical succession of this type of project imposes the following activities in the working plan: i) Organizing the activities and drafting the project development plan for the entire team. Represents the main task for the first year (2015), in principal has an organizing and documentary character, in terms of determination of the strategies for approaching the project. It includes the following activities: A1. Setting and determining the calendar for the team’s documentation, the research strategy, work schedule and the workload per member in relation with the goals pursued; A2. The assurance of the infrastructure needed to reach the proposed objectives in this project; A3. The identification of spatial and temporal distribution of all the covered sites, settlements, artifacts, data, materials etc will be taken into account in this project; A4. The realization of instruments and the preliminary data base which presents the accumulated information; A5. Launching of the website of the project. ii) Evaluation of the actual stage of the research in the light of the bibliographic resources, by means of documentation sessions concerning this topic and by means of an analysis of the unpublished materials belonging to this category. It represents the second task of the first year with a character of documentation and it includes 3 activities: A1. Specialized documentation sessions and participation to reunions and workshops of the specialists in this domain, in Romania and abroad; A2. Evaluation of the archaeological collections from different specialized institutions in Romania and abroad from the perspective of this project; A3. Creation of the structure and of the operational databases (online) through the indexation of the available bibliography and of the artifacts from the archaeological collections of certain specialized institutions in Romania and abroad; iii) Realizing research works out in the field and in laboratory and experimental interdisciplinary researches, in order to obtain a maximum of information on the subject under analysis. This represents the last task of the first year, based on an activity of applied research, both in the field (in certain archaeological sites), and in laboratory (archaeological collections of certain specialized institutions). It comprises 4 activities: A1. Realization of support-archaeological researches within certain archaeological sites; A2. Recording the pluri-disciplinary data obtained in the support-archaeological researches from certain archaeological sites; A3. Study in the laboratories of the archaeological collections coming from the archaeological sites in which the members of the project are involved; A4. Going to research institutes and museums, to valorize old archaeological collections; iv) Improving the working tools through the introduction and development of a new method for the pluri- and interdisciplinary archaeological research in Romania, in the operating strategies of the animal environment – represents the first task of the second year (2016), having a methodological-theoretical character, being meant to develop some novel working tools. It includes 4 activities: A1. Elaboration of a typical working sheet for the databases specific for each settlement under analysis; A2. Indexing the information gathered following the documentation activities in the context of the instrument developed following the previous activities; A3. Chronological correlation of the existing data on the basis of absolute 14C dating of specific artifacts; A4. Completing the recording system for all the types of information/data; v) Realizing research works out in the field and in laboratory and experimental interdisciplinary researches – this task continues the activities of the previous year (point iii); vi) Defining paradigms for the evolution of the systems of exploitation of the animal environment, under the impulse of climate changes, in the areas under analysis – this represents the first task of the last year (2017), having mainly the attribute of synthesizing the accumulated data in order to improve the working tools needed, with 4 activities: A1. Processing the data, the information, the samples and the materials gathered by means of the support-archaeological researches undertaken, but also obtained via the laboratory researches on the archaeological collections available in different specialized institutions; A2. Developing and updating the database with further information obtained via the realization of support-archaeological researches; A3. Formulation of working hypotheses concerning the data gathered; A4. Formulation of the interpretative equation concerning the data related to the animal exploitation, both on a practical and on a theoretical level; vii) Valorising and disseminating the results obtained through the project, by means of specific events (conferences, workshops, exhibitions, roundtables, and international congresses) but also by publishing scientific papers. This is a valid task for all the 24 months of the project, allowing the intermediary and afterwards final valorizing of the project results. It takes into account the organization of a round table, on the topic of the project, reuniting specialists of this domain, in order to determine the actual stage of the research, and also in order to establish future research directions, with the purpose of unifying the methodology of analysis and to get the Romanian scientific level on the same level as the European one, followed by the publication of the results of the round table. viii) Finalization of the project – this represents the final task of the project, having an administrative character. It comprises 3 activities: A1. Realization of an external audit; A2. Gathering the necessary documentation for the final settlement of the project; A3. Elaboration of the final scientific report for CNCS.
3) Describing the potential risks and the approaches for mitigation these risks. The identified potential risks are : (i) the economic crisis, the bureaucracy which is specific to state institutions and the governmental politics regarding the scientific research in Romania; (ii) The delay with which may be transferred the amount of budget calculated in the Contract; (iii) the diminishing of the budget for different stages ; (iv) abandoning the doctoral or post-doctoral studies by some of the team members, for different reasons; (v) loss of collections and/or access limitation to some of the collections from different research and museum institutions. How can we limit these risks? The points (i)-(iii) do not depend on the project management. For the point (iv), we try to attract as many young researchers as possible in order to stimulate the competition between them, but also to cover our proposed objectives, even in the case of eventual «loses». Concerning point (v), we will try that specialists from the museum network to be attracted into this project – they will be invited to participate at writing paper and at organizing expositions, workshops etc. The general objectives of the project are realistic and rely on a judicious sharing of the responsibilities. For each stage anticipated in the project, we have included a time interval needed for the feedback from the academic community, in order to go deeper into and critically readjust the intermediate objectives.