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

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

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 ariwfc@nus.edu.sg and Sharon at arios@nus.edu.sg 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

Call for Papers: “An Environmental History of Wars in Central Europe”

Call for journal articles

The Hungarian Historical Review invites submissions for its third issue in 2018, the theme of which will be “An environmental history of wars in Central Europe”

The deadline for the submission of abstracts: September 30, 2017 The deadline for the accepted papers: January 31, 2018

 

The environmental changes of the last millennium in East Central Europe have been studied for decades, and historians, archaeologists, and natural scientists have made substantial contributions to a more nuanced understanding of the relationships between the environment on the one hand and cultural and political history on the other. Historical processes can hardly be grasped in their complexity without some understanding of the changes that have taken place in the natural environment, and yet for the most part environmental history has remained a marginal topic or perspective in the study of the history of East Central Europe. Indeed, in many countries of the region it is still regarded as an auxiliary discipline of importance primarily simply because it adds an interdisciplinary angle to more traditional historical inquiries.

Environmental history does not have a single agenda. It is neither a turn nor a paradigm in historiography. There are many ways to write environmental history. For their part, archaeologists, geologists, geographers, biologists, palynologists, climatologists etc. have made important contributions, but their work and methodologies have not yet been organized systematically to produce a holistic picture precisely because of the absence of a synthetic historical approach. Furthermore, sometimes these scientists have neglected one another’s work, and some of the different disciplines continue to arrive at contradictory findings.

In Western European and U.S. scholarship, one of the problems which has drawn significant interest is environmental change brought about by military conflicts. The environmental legacy of wars has been intensely studied in the last two decades, in part in connection with the visible destruction and environmental impact of the two World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. Dozens of major works have focused on the environmental transformation of landscapes in regions affected by war. However, most of these works addressed the problem of the environmental footprint of wars in modern times and, in particular, the twentieth century. Very few studies examined how military tactics in medieval or early modern times transformed the environment in various parts of Central Europe. The Hungarian Historical Review seeks contributions that will enrich our understanding of the environmental history of wars, broadly understood. The questions the articles should address may include but are not limited to:

- the impact of periods of war on landscape;

- changes in landscapes after wars;

- military industry and its impact on historical environments;

- landscapes of peace;

- the roles of weather and climate in military campaigns;

- the roles of landscapes in determining military tactics

 

The long-range goal is to summarize the related efforts in order to enhance communication among different fields of the sciences and foster exchanges among researchers of different nationalities. The short-term goal is to present a general, overall picture of our knowledge of environmental changes brought about by wars.

 

We invite the submission of abstracts on the questions and topics raised above.

Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short biographical sketch with a selected list of the author’s five most important publications (we do not accept full CVs).

The editors will ask the authors of selected abstracts to submit their final articles (max. 10,000 words) no later than January 31, 2018. The articles will be published after a double blind peer-review process. We provide proofreading for contributors who are not native speakers of English.

All articles must conform to our submission guidelines: http://hunghist.org/index.php/for-authors

 

The deadline for the submission of abstracts: September 30, 2017.

Proposals should be submitted by email: hunghist@btk.mta.hu

 

The Hungarian Historical Review is a peer-reviewed international quarterly of the social sciences and humanities the geographical focus of which is Hungary and East-Central Europe. For additional information, including submission guidelines, please visit the journal’s website: www.hunghist.org

Weather Markets: Accounting for Climate in Early American Agri-business

In a blog post on historicalclimatology.com, Dr. Josh MacFadyen of Arizona State University outlines how the Archer-Daniels Midland Linseed Company (ADM) made climate data into a commodity during the early 20th century. ADM provided reports for their customers detailing real-time weather conditions in major flax-producing areas in Canada, the northern U.S. plains, and Argentine Pampas. Because crop yields were most tied to weather conditions during summer months, this information helped ADM’s clients make purchases on the futures market – evidence that these commodity systems were more rooted in the natural world than some scholars have allowed. Notably, ADM’s climate data was collected and distributed independent of the growing network of meteorologists and climate scientists, suggesting that early private sector interest in climate data had a distinct history from early climate science.

See the full article here.