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McDonald Annual Lecture 2014

Graeme Barker, (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research , University of Cambridge) - The Archaeology of Climate/People Interactions: Science or Story-Telling?
When Nov 19, 2014
from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Mill Lane Lecture Theatre Room 3
Contact Name
Attendees All welcome
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The academic literature and popular media are full of stories of climate change driving cultural change in the past, whether for ‘good’ (such as driving hunters to become farmers, or encouraging farmers to ‘green’ deserts) or ‘ill’ (causing ancient civilisations to collapse).  An inevitable reaction to this kind of environmental determinism has been a retreat in much of the recent archaeological literature from any discussion of climate change as a potential forcing factor, with humans living out their complex lives on a stage where climate and environment were just a muted-coloured backdrop. One of the problems with trying to move the debate forward is that we often have excellent data about climate change in one place, and excellent data on human activities in another, but not together, so robust comparisons of equally strong datasets are all too few. The lecture will use examples from different regions and times, and from societies of different scales and complexities, to explore how inter-disciplinary studies of past human-climate interactions are both possible and informative in terms of present-day debates about our own interactions with climate.

The lecture will be followed by a reception in the McDonald Institute Courtyard Building, Ground Floor.


An Oral History of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research