A new Durham University research project on science, society, and environmental change in the First Millennium CE led by academics from its History and Archaeology Departments has been selected for a €2m European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant.
The study investigates how humans responded to environmental and climatic change between 1 and 1000 CE by integrating textual, archaeological, and environmental evidence across the Mediterranean.
The grant will fund three postdoctoral fellows and two Ph.D. students, alongside the core team of four researchers working across the disciplines of history, archaeology, and environmental/climate science. This will allow the project to produce a large number of publications that will be made available to the public and the scholarly community via open access.
Durham University research project
The research team, which also comprises scholars from Ebergard Karls Universtät and the University of Basel, will collaborate to investigate short- and long-term environmental and climatic changes in the First Millennium CE, such as those caused by floods, volcanic activity, and longer periods of warming or cooling.
The collaborative large-scale approach and the development of critical interdisciplinary methodologies allow the project team to investigate the full complexity of experience, perceptions, knowledge, and behavior in past societies.
They will examine how people in the Mediterranean societies responded to the environmental changes intellectually and socially. Key themes to be explored include resilience and sustainability, such as how well people adapted to environmental changes, and the transfer of knowledge, especially how different kinds of scientific, religious, social, and practical knowledge connected with environmental change were communicated across the Mediterranean.
“This is an amazing opportunity to address important research questions about how people think about and respond to environmental and climatic variability. I am absolutely delighted that the ERC has chosen to fund this project,” said Principal Investigator of the project, Dr. Helen Foxhall Forbes of Durham University.
ERC funding supports researchers
The ERC funding is aimed at supporting mid-career researchers and helping them consolidate their teams and conduct pioneering research.
This research addresses questions that have significance for the study of human relationships with climate and the environment in ancient and medieval societies.
It also has clear potential relevance for the modern world given the pressing significance of the climate crisis and the need to identify and develop strategies of resilience, based both on new technologies and on traditional sustainable practices.