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Exploring the dynamics and causes of prehistoric land use change in the cradle of European farming

Objective

European societies today face unprecedented environmental change. Understanding how human societies responded to past challenges of environmental change relates to the interface between culture and environment. The EXPLO project proposes a novel interdisciplinary approach to investigate key questions regarding the interaction between past human ways of life, land use and the wider environment through a unique combination of archaeological, biological and dynamic mathematical modelling approaches.

Archaeological prehistoric sites in lakes of northern Greece and the southern Balkans provide an excellent opportunity to investigate rich archives of societal and environmental change in the cradle of European farming. Natural lake sediments and submerged prehistoric settlements offer exceptional preservation conditions and uniquely holistic insights into past anthroposphere, biosphere and geosphere dynamics. More than 8,000 years ago, technological and social breakthroughs allowed the introduction of farming from western Asia to Greece and thus for the first time to Europe; however, so far there is no high-resolution picture of how this revolutionary innovation interacted with the environment, including its long-term consequences.

New underwater archaeological research will allow the construction of highly precise settlement chronologies on the basis of dendrochronology, radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modelling. On-site information from excavations will be combined with off-site palaeoenvironmental data from the same lakes to investigate past adaptation strategies to the environment as well as the effects of past societies on their environments. Dynamic models integrating archaeological contexts and palaeoenvironmental data will open up the opportunity to investigate vulnerability, resilience, tipping points and thresholds of ancient agrarian economies, with implications for future food systems under a rapidly changing climate.

Field of science

  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/forestry/dendrology/dendrochronology

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-SyG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SyG - Synergy grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAET BERN
Address
Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 4 191 625

Beneficiaries (3)

UNIVERSITAET BERN
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 4 191 625
Address
Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 141 831
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Greece
EU contribution
€ 1 069 743
Address
Kedea Building, Tritis Septemvriou, Aristotle Univ Campus
54636 Thessaloniki
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments