Overcoming reductionism when linking climate variability with human history

Overcoming reductionism when linking climate variability with human history

2017-04-10 08:00 - 2017-04-14 17:00
Krasnoyarsk, Russia - Krasnoyarsk
Krai, Russia
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Although there is increasing awareness of the role climate may have played in shaping human history, it is evident that paleo-environmental insights must be supplemented with multifactor analyses to overcome deterministic, reductionist or monocausal explanations. As a cultural, ecological and paleoclimatological hot spot, the greater Altai region constitutes an ideal opportunity to further enhance the appreciation of environmental conditions under which historical events may have occurred and affected past societies in both Europe and Asia.

In this regard, we are convinced that the advantages deriving from a joint analysis of historical and paleoclimatological data are especially relevant to the reconstruction of a more articulate and richer context, rather than to the construction of causal chains. Further information should be produced, if available, from archaeological and other disciplines, including both natural sciences and the humanities. It would be, for instance, extremely important to examine the archaeological remains in the greater Altai region.

Studies on first millennium hydrological fluctuations of this part of Central Asia would also appear extremely relevant. Moreover, the extent to which war, devastation and famine impacted the local population may also surface through epidemiological studies, coupled with isotopic analysis to investigate dietary changes, for instance. Finally, the extraction of aDNA would inform us of the extent to which nomadic movements and exchanges altered the genetic makeup of the ancient inhabitants of the Altai and its surrounding regions. While caution must be exercised when extrapolating complex mechanisms of human-environment interaction over space and time, the LALIA constitutes an excellent, though perhaps still preliminary, example to explore the role that environmental factors may have played on socio-cultural, political and economic phenomena. The example of the LALIA also stresses the benefits of creating a science-informed and data-rich context for seeking explanations of historical events.

Workshop type

An international and cross-disciplinary workshop for paleoclimatologists focusing on both high-resolution proxy reconstructions and model simulations, as well as for archaeologists, ecologists and historians, with all of them having recognized experience and eminent interest in Eurasia (spatially) and the last three millennia (temporally). Although rather broad in scope, the overlap between all participants will be given by the greater Altai region in central Asia (see details below).

Workshop topic

Using carefully selected case studies (from the Altai and the last three millennia) to clearly move beyond what has recently been achieved at the emerging interface of paleoclimatology and history, and was recently published by Büntgen et al. for the Euro-Med2k group in Nature Geosciences.

Timescale covered

The last millennia with a distinct aim of placing the recently obtained paleoclimatological and -ecological as well as historical evidence of the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA; 6-8th century) into a longer context (the last three millennia) and broader perspective (no limits).

Products planned

1) A multi-proxy database of natural (mainly re-cycling parts from the PAGES 2k initiative) and anthropogenic (archaeological and historical sources) archives.
2) A cross-disciplinary review paper for submission either to Earth-Science Reviews, Quaternary Science Reviews or (depending on the foci of the individual contributions even to) Journal of Interdisciplinary History, well as a much more condensed high-impact paper for submission ideally to Science/Nature.
3) A strong follow-up proposal.
4) A workshop report following PAGES criteria.


Registration deadline: 31 October 2016
If you wish to attend, please email organizers Ulf Büntgen: ulf.buentgen@wsl.ch and Alex Kirdyanov: kirdyanov@ksc.krasn.ru


All Dates

  • From 2017-04-10 08:00 to 2017-04-14 17:00

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