Aarhus University Seal

Keynote abstract

Keynote Beatrice de Cardi Lecture (sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries, London)

By Professor Adrian G. Parker
Human Origins and Palaeoenvironments Research Group, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford, UK

Arabian Palaeoenvironments and climate change during the Arabian Bronze Age (3500-1000 BC)

The climate of Arabia is complex and results from the dynamic interplay between a number of major atmospheric as well as oceanic systems across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Throughout the Holocene, Arabia has been highly sensitive to climate variability, with pronounced and often geographically variable environmental responses to global, regional and local shifts in climate which have at times had profound as well as more subtle impacts on the landscape. Understanding how and why landscapes evolve and change through time and space are important factors when considering the archaeological record with respect to local and regional contexts, especially across a region as diverse as Arabia. A wide range of palaeoenvironmental approaches are currently used to address these questions. Understanding how different palaeoarchives can be analysed (including lakes, dunes, palaeosols, fluvial, alluvial, colluvial systems, speleothems and marine records), what these records show, their chronological resolution/constraints/limitations, and how climatic interpretations can be inferred are key to interpreting records.

Unsurprisingly for the arid Arabian region, climate change usually constitutes the principal component in archaeological models for cultural and socioeconomic change. As such some long held assumptions about Bronze Age (3500-1500 BC) Arabia may, however, be ripe for revision or adjustment because knowledge on the environmental and climatic developments has increased considerably in recent decades. If we are to obtain an informed picture of the causes driving change in the Bronze Age, it is imperative that new palaeoenvironmental insights are integrated with archaeological models. A growing body of evidence suggests widespread, abrupt, and rapid centennial-scale shifts in Arabian climates during the Bronze Age. Are these changes ubiquitous across the region or are there regional and local differences? To what extent does climate and environment shape the landscape across Arabia during the Bronze Age? Can linking climate events to the push and pull factors of human behaviour at regional and local scales be used when testing notions of cultural and socioeconomic change?

It is likely that societal resilience to climate change, the severity and rate of any change, how this translates to local water availability and how widely climate may or may not have influenced trade/social networks, creates complexity in understanding archaeological records in relation to societal change. To address this well-informed and updated surveys of the proxy data and regional models are needed to assess pivotal developments in the Arabian Bronze Age to better understand the role, if any, of climate change in the dynamics of Arabian Bronze Age societies.

Time: 16:15-17:15 local time (GMT+2)
Place: Main auditorium at Moesgaard Museum, Moesgaard Allé 15, 8370 Hoejbjerg,
Zoom: a Zoom link will be made available
The Keynote will be followed 17:20 - 19:40 by the “Meet the Pioneers” wine and Carlsberg party.