In Rome, a Conference on History and Environment in the Ancient Mediterranean (Wed 15-Thu 16 June 2011)

Whether it is climate, or the use and overuse of timber resources, or the extent and effects of urbanization, or a host of other issues, the history of the Mediterranean environment in antiquity is full of unresolved debates. The intention of the conference History and Environment in the Ancient Mediterranean is scarcely to resolve these debates but rather to redefine their terms and to think about what progress we can hope to make in the immediate future. Co-hosting the conference are the American Academy in Rome and the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae. The speakers are environmental scientists, historians and archaeologists from some seven nations; the conference is free and open to the public.

The morning session of the first day (Wednesday 15 June) will take place at the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Villa Lante (Passeggiata del Gianicolo 10), while the afternoon session will take place at the Villa Aurelia of the American Academy in Rome (Largo di Porta San Pancrazio 1). Both sessions of the second day (Thursday 16 June) will take place at the Villa Aurelia. The conference is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and organized by William V. Harris (RAAR’79, ‘81), William R. Shepherd Professor of History at Columbia University. See below for the full program.


FIRST SESSION: Villa Lante, Wednesday 15 June 2011

9:15 a.m. – 9:30: Welcoming remarks: Katariina Mustakallio (IRF), William Harris RAAR’79, ’81 (Columbia University)

Session chair: Katariina Mustakallio (IRF)


9:30-10:00: Paolo Malanima (Napoli), “Energy Consumption: a Quantitative Analysis”

10:00-10:15: discussion

10:15-10:45: William Harris, RAAR’79, ’81 “Deforestation in the Ancient Mediterranean: A Historian’s View”

10:45-11:00: discussion

11:00-11:30: coffee break

11:30-12:00: Lin Foxhall (Leicester), “Farming Out: Greek Agricultural Practices,   Overseas Settlement and Environmental Encounters”

12:00-12:15: discussion

12:15-12:45: Nicholas Purcell (Oxford), “Mountains and the Problem of Scale in Environmental History”

12:45-13:00: discussion.

13:00-15:00 LUNCH BREAK

SECOND SESSION: Villa Aurelia, 15 June 2011

15:30-15:35: Welcoming remarks: Christopher S. Celenza FAAR’94 (AAR)

Session chair: Elio Lo Cascio (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”)


15:30-16:00: Michael McCormick (Harvard), “What We Need to Learn from Climate Scientists to Reconstruct the Roman Climate”

16:00-16:15: discussion

16:15-16:45: Edward Cook (Columbia University), “The Climate of the Late Roman Period in Europe from Millennial-Length Tree-Ring Records: Progress and Needs”

16:45-17:15: coffee break

17:15-17:45: Sturt Manning (Cornell), “Available Macro-climate Contexts for History, and the Potentials for Micro-History from High-Resolution Climate Data, in the Mediterranean”

17:45-18:00: discussion

18:00-18:30: Saskia Hin (Rostock), “Climate Trends under the Roman Empire and their Implications for Mortality”

18:30-18:45: discussion

18:45-19:45: Reception.

THIRD SESSION: Villa Aurelia, Thursday 16 June 2011

Session chair: Corey Brennan FAAR’88 (AAR)


10:00-10:30: Florence Mazier (Toulouse), “Pollen-inferred Quantitative Reconstructions of Holocene Deforestation in NW Europe—First  Results from the Landclim Project”

10:30-10:45: discussion

10:45-11:15: coffee break

11:15-11:45: Brian Campbell (Queen’s University, Belfast), “Fertilissimus amnis: Exploiting Rivers”

11:45-12:00: discussion


12:00-12:30: Paula Kouki (Helsinki), “Problems of Relating Environmental History and Human Settlement in the Classical and Late-classical Periods: the Example of Southern Jordan”

12:30-12:45: discussion

12:45-15:00: LUNCH BREAK

FOURTH SESSION: Villa Aurelia, Thursday 16 June 2011

Session chair: Marco Maiuro (Columbia University)

SITE REPORTS (continued)

15:00-15:30: Elda Russo Ermolli (Naples), “Human-environment  Relationship in the Southern Tyrrhenian Coastal Area: Hypothesis from Neapolis and Elea-Velia”

15:30-15:45: discussion

15:45-16:00: Robyn Veal (Sydney), “Fuelling Ancient Mediterranean Cities: A Case Study from Pompeii ca 3rd c. BC to AD 79”

16:00-16:15: discussion

16:15-16:35: coffee break


16:35-17:05: Lukas Thommen (Basel), “Environmental Terms and their Impact on Human Behaviour in Antiquity”

17:05-17:20: discussion


17:20-18:00: Andrew Wilson (Oxford) and Salvatore Settis (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)


American Academy in Rome: Via Angelo Masina 5, 00153 Roma

Institutum Romanum Finlandiae: Villa Lante, Passeggiata del Gianicolo 10, 00165 Roma

For further information: Anne Coulson: or Kristine Iara:

Images of the Mediterranean 14 June 2002, produced by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment system aboard NASA’s Aqua spacecraft


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