Climate Change and the Bronze Age Transition in Northwestern China

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A new dissertation in anthropology by Elizabeth Berger at UNC-Chapel Hill shows how culture and climate change combined to shape the changes in northwestern China’s human society during the Bronze Age transition of the first and second millennia BCE. As the climate became cooler and drier in northern Eurasia, human groups changed in uneven ways. Skeletal analyses of remains from northwestern China show that groups with Bronze Age subsistence systems seem to have better adapted to the colder, more arid climate, while groups with Iron Age subsistence systems suffered poorer health. But because the defining elements of these subsistence systems were not categorically changed over this period, Berger argues that the Bronze Age transition would be better described as “incremental adaptation” rather than a collapse, as it has been previously understood.

Find the full text here

CHN Summer Newsletter Published

Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has published a special Spring and Summer 2017 issue of our Climate History Newsletter. You'll find podcast links, feature article summaries, calls for papers, conference updates, and our usual list of new scholarship. 

Download the issue by clicking here.

CALL FOR PAPERS | Asian Extremes: Climate, Meteorology and Disaster in History | 17-18 May 2018

The weather plays an often underestimated, yet vitally important role in human history. Climate and weather history are still considered emerging fields despite some precedent from the sciences and arguably, studies in this field have disproportionately favoured Northern Europe, in large part because of the greater availability and accessibility of records for this region. There are still many knowledge gaps for Asia, partly because of the paucity of records in comparison to Europe, because many archives have either been restricted or have only relatively recently been opened, but also because regional scholars have overly focused on teleological nationalistic explorations of the past.  The aim of this conference therefore is to explore the role of the weather in the history of Asia. It ties in with current historiographical trends that explore scientific history as a globally linked enterprise, one that crossed different national and imperial borders.

In this conference, we seek to gain a better understanding of the following themes:

  • ·         Asian Extremes: Weather as a Driver of Change
  • ·         Imperial Meteorology: A Global Science
  • ·         Culture, Climate and Weather
  • ·         Weather History and the Modern-Day: Integrating History and Science in the Anthropocene


Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief biography including name, institutional affiliation, and email contact. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. The organizers plan to publish a special issue with selected papers presented in this conference. By participating in the conference you agree to participate in the future publication plans (special issue/journal) of the organizers. The organizers will provide hotel accommodation for three nights and a contribution towards airfare for accepted paper participants (one author per paper).

Please submit your proposal, using the provided proposal template to Dr Fiona Williamson at and Sharon at by 17 October 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 17 November 2017.


Sea Level Rise in Holocene Adriatic Linked to Increased Parasitic Activity

Photo Credit: Scientific Reports

Researchers have found that a rise in parasitic trematodes correlated with rises in sea level during the Holocene in Italy. Studying drill cores taken from the Po River delta in 2014, this group of researchers found an increased number of parasitic infestations in clams at times when sea levels were higher. Because the trematodes left no direct fossil remains, the study used empty pockets in clam shells produced by trematodes as a proxy for their prominence.

These researchers also link rising sea levels in the present and their findings over the course of the Holocene to an expected increased risk of parasites to humans in the future. Thus, the study finds that climate change may adverse impacting human internal health more quickly than previously thought. See the full article here.

Adapted from Sciencedaily