P33
Interweaving narratives: combining written sources, scientific data and material culture to understand past human ecodynamics

Convenors:
Anke Marsh (University College, London)
Eva Jobbova (University College London)
Discussant:
Prof Elizabeth Graham
Format:
Panels
Location:
British Museum - Sackler B
Start time:
29 May, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel will focus on how written sources and ethnographic studies combined with environmental data and material culture can clarify the socio-ecological relationship between human societies and their environments and how this drives cultural change.

Long abstract:

Despite extensive research, the relationship between climate change and human societies is still not well understood, especially with respect to how and to what extent climate change can be considered a primary driver in the cultural trajectory of a particular region. Although there are new analytical opportunities provided by methodological developments in various disciplines, little is known about the short- or long-term dynamics of past human-environment relationships. Reasons for this include a lack of integration between relevant fields, such as archaeology, anthropology, epigraphy, geology, palaeoclimatology and palaeoecology. This panel will explore how integrating datasets from different disciplines can lead to a better understanding of the socio-ecological relationship between societies and their environments and if/how this drives cultural change. Specifically, the panel will focus on how different perspectives, derived from written sources and/or ethnographic studies in the relevant region, combined with scientific data collected from sediments, microfossils, speleothems and other proxies, as well as material culture, can elucidate the complex human decision-making process occurring in different and/or changing environmental conditions and the ramifications for cultural change. Panel is open both geographically and temporally and comparative research is strongly encouraged. Papers could consider (but are not limited to) how modern ethnographic studies and geoarchaeological methods contribute to our understanding of past human ecodynamics, how integrated methods can clarify spatial/temporal relationships between climate events and cultural change or how multidisciplinary approaches inform us about people's choices in response to environmental change (relocation, introduction of religious practices...).