Tagged / IMSET

IMSET Seminar: Modelling land use in the ancient Near East

Thursday 22 April at 4pm 

Modelling land use in the ancient Near East: methodological problems and interpretive potential with Dr. Dan Lawrence, Durham University 

Land use and land cover (LULC) changes have important biophysical and biogeochemical effects on climate via a variety of mechanisms. The PAGES working group LandCover6k aims to produce global reconstructions of land use and land cover based on archaeological data to provide climate modellers with datasets for sensitivity testing. The Ancient Near East has a long history of agricultural and pastoral exploitation, and as such represents a key area for the understanding of human induced landcover change. This paper will discuss the methods through which land use has been reconstructed by the Middle East group of the Landcover6K project. It will also show how these methods can also be used by archaeologists to investigate socio-ecological systems through time, building on datasets collected through the ERC funded Climate, Landscape, Settlement and Society (CLaSS) Project. This project aims to collect all archaeological settlement, zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical data available for the Fertile Crescent over the Holocene. Combining land use modelling with archaeologically derived evidence for past population and subsistence practices has significant interpretive potential. We illustrate this by presenting new results on the impact of the 4.2kya event, a period of drought associated by some with the collapse of the Akkadian empire and widespread population decline. We will also discuss preliminary work on long term trends in social complexity, productivity and resilience. 

Find out more and book your place.  

 

IMSET Seminar: Understanding coastal change

Thursday 18 March at 4pm 

Understanding coastal change: impact and implications global to local scales with Dr Sally Brown, Bournemouth University  

Coastal zones are under multiple threats of natural and anthropogenic change. The impact of these threats are anticipated to worsen with climate change and the effects of sea-level rise. In this presentation, Sally will highlight different elements of her research, including how physical processes and socio-economic change vary throughout time, and demonstrate methods and solutions to adapt to these changes. Examples will be taken from global, regional and local scales from areas that Sally has worked on around the world. 

Sally is a coastal and climate change adaptation scientist. She joined BU in 2018, and as all but six weeks of her time at BU has been part-time or working from home, she is keen to integrate more and work with others in research at BU. Find out more about Sally’s research.  

BU Research Matters: the evolution of research during a global pandemic – joining our research community

Dr Marc Vander Linden - Bournemouth University Staff Profile PagesThis week on the Research Blog, we are exploring how our amazing community of researchers have evolved and adapted their research activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr Marc Vander Linden, who joined BU in March 2020 as part of the creation of the Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions starts the mini-series off. Below, Marc shares his reflections, details how he has adapted and explains why we still need face-to-face interaction: 

“A year ago, I joined Bournemouth University as a senior lecturer within the newly created Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET). Obviously, the prospect of a national lockdown was then looming closer and closer but I never thought that, several months later, I would still be a “virtual colleague”, delivering my – new-ish by now – duties from home and through the 13inch window of my laptop screen. We all have experienced first hand the challenges of the current situation. Being married to an academic and parent of two (very resilient, I must proudly add!) children, it goes without saying that home-schooling has taken its toll on working conditions. These have not been ideal to discover and manage the many administrative and teaching tasks incurred by a new job. In this sense, doing research has been indeed a challenge, but overall less a luxury than a necessary intellectual lifeline.

I am an archaeologist working on past population history, and long-term human-environment interactions, especially the mechanisms and consequences of the introduction and development of early farming techniques across Europe. My research covers multiple facets, each having been affected in different ways by COVID-19. The most-well-known, “romantic” thing about being an archaeologist is the field, in my case digging in caves in Montenegro. Obviously, with travel bans and the local hardships of the pandemic, any form of fieldwork has been impossible to undertake. As I was about to start surveying a new region, the lack of fieldwork not only has an immediate effect upon my research, but will also have negative repercussions felt over several years to come as I cannot dig new sites, identify new research problems and apply for corresponding funding. Yet, this unexpected pause also offered opportunities to revisit and complete older work, and prepare it for final publication thanks to a collective effort involving former post-docs, PhD students, and local Serbian and Montenegrin collaborators.

Another part of my research draws on legacy data, which is assembling, compiling and analysing datasets from published and unpublished literature. This includes, among others, collating information scattered in a multitude of individual reports related to changes in past farming regimes (e.g. presence of certain crops and weeds, or the preference for particular animal domesticates, or the contribution of hunting to the economy). The resulting “big data” not only constitute the empirical baseline for a range of analyses, but these results can also be used by collaborators from disciplines that consider estimates of anthropogenic activity (e.g. anthropogenic land cover models). Such multi-layered work is only possible by being part of an extensive international network of researchers, meeting regularly in a virtual world of Zoom meetings, shared folders, google documents, sometimes spiced up by the pleasure of doodle polls to identify the right meeting slot across multiple time zones. In many respects, the COVID-19 induced familiarity of online platforms and tools has bolstered this dimension of my research and made me more open to new collaborations.

This being said, the picture is not entirely rosy and, in so many ways, I’d say the most difficult part has actually been to become a BU colleague. After all, it is difficult to lose sight, when constantly stuck at home in front of a laptop, that you’re part of a new institution, with rules to follow and timelines to respect. As part of IMSET, “older hands” have provided outstanding support to us newbies, and lots of energy has gone into creating and maintaining contact through weekly – virtual obviously – lab meetings. Though we’ve made huge strides to come together as a group, the biggest drawback still remains to not being able to pop in someone’s office for advice or a simple chat. Online collaboration presents numerous advantages when relying upon and interacting with a huge body of collaborators and, arguably, my research has developed well despite, if not thanks, to the “new normal” imposed by COVID-19.

Yet, I’m desperately craving for the inherent simplicity and spontaneity of unplanned interactions with talented colleagues for diverse scientific horizons, those simple moments which, in my experience, are so essential in generating successful, innovative and fun research”.

 

IMSET Seminar: Exploring the chaîne opératoire of applied long-term human ecodynamics

Thursday 21st January 4pm – 6pm

Exploring the chaîne opératoire of applied long-term human ecodynamics: examples from the human paleocology of Subarctic and Arctic seas.

Book your place in the seminar with Professor Ben Fitzhugh, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington.

Professor Fitzhugh’s research focuses on human-environmental dynamics and archaeological histories of maritime/coastal hunter-gatherers especially in the North Pacific. His research addresses questions of human vulnerability and resilience in remote subarctic environments.

Researchers studying long-term human ecological histories increasingly promote the relevance of this work to contemporary environmental managers, policy makers, and heritage communities. After all, our case studies and comparative insights capture greater ranges of socio-environmental variation and longer temporal sequences than are available to planners tethered to the short observation scales. These longer time-lines and more varied “completed experiments of the past” make it possible to track dynamic relationships and downstream legacies driving more and less sustainable strategies and relationships. This information should help us to avoid the mistakes of the past and to build policy on robust understandings about the capacities of systems for stability and change. Nevertheless, meaningful engagement remains limited. If we are serious about this effort, we owe it to ourselves to examine the practical challenges and paths to solutions to implementation of applied long-term human ecodynamics. For this talk, Professor Fitzhugh will expand on the need for a “chaîne opératoire of applied long-term human ecodynamics.” Chaîne opératoires are the inferred technical steps perceived to govern the production, use and discard of technological objects like stone tools, and his argument here is that we could stand to investigate the impediments and limitations of practice that keep academic work at arms length from management policy. Using climate, marine ecological and archaeological case studies from the subarctic North Pacific, he will explore key steps involved in forming and bringing compelling human ecodynamic scenarios of the past into dialogue with contemporary management science and policy. These steps involve managing data uncertainties, unequal resolutions and relevance, disparate interpretive constructs, and epistemic and ontological asymmetries.

Professor Fitzhugh is currently Director of the Quaternary Research Center at the University of Washington, and in this role, seeks to promote interdisciplinary scholarship in the evolution of the earth surface (and the role of humans in it) over the past two and a half millions years.

https://anthropology.washington.edu/people/ben-fitzhugh

Professor Fitzhugh will speak for approximately 1 hour, followed by Q&A.

Book a place at this seminar via eventbrite.

Virtual Coffee with IMSET

Thank you to those who attended the IMSET launch last week. We hope that you now have a better idea of who we are and what we are aiming to do.

As a follow-up, we will be holding a ‘virtual coffee with IMSET’ on Monday 30th November between 3.00pm and 4.00pm to enable more informal chat and discussion. We do hope you can make it.

Please contact SIA@bournemouth.ac.uk if you’d the meeting details.