Past event

The Environments of Ancient Mediterranean City-States: Experience and Resilience Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies (CAES) Conference

The urgency of modern environmental crises has led to growing interest in past human-environment interactions. A fundamental truth about effective responses to ecological pressures, today as in the past, is that they often require communal, not simply individual, action. Our relationship with the environment, therefore, operates in significant ways at the level of the community or state.

City-states have long rested at the heart of ancient Mediterranean studies, but it can be particularly challenging to understand how ecological dynamics operated at the scale of these polities. Paleoenvironmental evidence often attests either to conditions within a small area (an archaeological site) or a very large area (extensive regions or continents). At the same time, scientific analyses of human-environment interactions often elide localised social and cultural variation, viewing broader regions as home to largely homogeneous societies whose inhabitants would have had similar perceptions of and reactions to environmental change. As such, the study of both how city-state communities inflected their experiences of local environments and how environmental phenomena had discrepant physical impacts on microregions has emerged as a central desideratum of ancient environmental studies.

This conference aims to examine the dynamics of human-environment interaction through the lens of the city-state in the first millennium BCE Mediterranean world. Key questions include the following:

– How did the perception and experience of city-state environments (including both urban centres and their rural hinterlands) vary, and how did such variations influence local identities?
– What role did civic institutions play in managing environmental risk and building resilience within city-states, and where was their involvement absent?
– What impact did the interaction between household and civic structures have on the relationship between humans and their local environments?
– How did ecological challenges and resilience manifest similarly or differently in city-states across the Mediterranean?

To register for this event please email [email protected] Quoting CAES conference and stating whether you wish to participate in-person or online.

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