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Navigating the North Atlantic Past through Archaeology, History and the Environmental Humanities

Thu, March 30, 3:30 to 5:00pm, The Drake Hotel, Astor

Session Submission Type: Panel


This panel presents for discussion a number of ongoing projects focused on the analysis of human ecodynamics in the North Atlantic Region from the Medieval through the Early Modern Periods. This region and these time periods bound a number of important cases having to do with human causation and navigation of rapid environmental and climate change; specifically issues such as the management of natural resources, climate change, insecurity and violence, and anthropogenic landscape change will be discussed. This region contains a diverse set of source data that can be used to investigate these issues such as a wide variety of well dated paleoclimate and paleoenvironment proxies, a deep archaeological record, and a rich documentary record. Each of the projects discussed will emphasize how historical data can be mobilized to address contemporary environmental change issues. The paper on the Sagas for Sustainability Project will discuss the intersection between archaeology and literary/ecocriticism in the context of interdisciplinary environmental humanities in order to better understand the environmental dynamics of the medieval Norse colonization of the North Atlantic. A further paper will present work on the archaeology of the medieval and early modern fish trade in Iceland and its place in the development of both pre and post-Columbian economies and trade networks. The Ocean’s Past Initiative, a collaboration between historians, archaeologists, marine biologists and oceanographers, focuses on how to use historical data to inform present day maritime resource managers and will present a case study of North Atlantic fisheries c 1400-1700. Finally a discussion of climate and violence in medieval Scotland will round out this panel. The Chair of this panel, Dr. George Hambrecht is an Archaeologist in the Anthropology Department, University of Maryland, College Park while the discussant, Dr. Dagomar Degroot is located at the History Department, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

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