Integrated History and Future of People on Earth Tue, 13 Sep 2022 14:57:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 32 32 LACHES seminar October 3rd, Joel D. Gunn Tue, 06 Sep 2022 11:58:50 +0000

We are hosting our 4th online LACHES (Latin American and Caribbean Historical Ecology Seminars) seminar on October 3rd, 2022.

Email contact[at] to register and receive the passcode to join. 

October 3 16-18 (Stockholm time)
Joel D. Gunn: If the Future Past Teaches, What does the Present Learn?

Over the last decades it has become increasingly clear that the post-WWII world economic system is coming to a global warming crisis of existential proportions. Signs indicate that there are other cracks in a system that was designed in the 1940s and has now come to its time in terms of unintended consequences, corruption, self-serving individuals, resource overshoot, pandemics, and wealth disparity. The first millennium CE is a time curiously apt for analogies to the current situation. It was a plateau in the evolution of urbanized societies. After 3000 years of nascent urbanization a pattern of agrarian empires had settled in worldwide. It suffered global scale disruptions every 300 years (3rd, 6th, 9th centuries). There was time for some societies to develop relatively sustainable balances with nature. It is well enough known historically to document many of the causes and consequences of stability and instability. A basic pattern of hegemonic social organization pervades both time periods though at different scales, regional and global. The early part of the period was characterized by global warming followed by a second part of global cooling. Humans contributed much to both local and global landscapes as a whole. Based on the interactions of global and local geography, especially latitude and altitude, impact scenarios of the global changes on local cultural adaptation are prolific. In the current situation, the leading edges of global warming are becoming increasingly well defined. Sea level changes are already threatening tropical megacities as do water deficiencies, soil depletion, fossil fuel depletion, movement of the human econiche, and wildfires. What insights to the convergence of social faults in the first millennium portend for those of the 21st century? At what moment will the system crack?

BIO: Joel D. Gunn, Ph.D. has focused his research interests on cultures skirting the Bermuda-Azores Subtropical High that occupied the North Atlantic Ocean between the Americas and Europe-Africa. The high varies in scale and location with global average temperatures and thus provides examples of how changes in the earth’s energy budget impact cultures on both independently evolving shores. Notable among them are the Roman Empire and the Central Maya Lowlands Kaan kingdom. He is currently an online lecturer in the Anthropology Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

See seminar schedule and previous seminars here

The seminar series held the 1st Monday of every 2nd month is sponsored by IHOPE ( and organized by a planning committee of scholars in Bolivia (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés), Brazil (Universidade de São Paulo), and Sweden (University of Gothenburg and Uppsala University). Drawing on case studies as starting point, these open seminars (in English, Spanish, or Portuguese) will discuss practical challenges and opportunities of historical ecological research, with particular reference to inclusive transdisciplinary research, actionable science, and informing policy.

New Book: Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond Tue, 06 Sep 2022 11:42:49 +0000 A new and interesting book has recently come out merging interests of archaeology and sustainability. Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond, edited by Jean T. Larmon, Lisa J. Lucero, and Fred Valdez Jr., investigates climate change and sustainability through time, exploring how political control of water sources, maintenance of sustainable systems, ideological relationships with water, and fluctuations in water availability have affected and been affected by social change. Contributors focus on and build upon earlier investigations of the global diversity of water management systems and the successes and failures of their employment, while applying a multitude of perspectives on sustainability.

The volume focuses primarily on the Precolumbian Maya but offers several analogous case studies outside the ancient Maya world that illustrate the pervasiveness of water’s role in sustainability, including an ethnographic study of the sustainability of small-scale, farmer-managed irrigation systems in contemporary New Mexico and the environmental consequences of Angkor’s growth into the world’s most extensive preindustrial settlement. The archaeological record offers rich data on past politics of climate change, while epigraphic and ethnographic data show how integrated the ideological, political, and environmental worlds of the Maya were.

While Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond stresses how lessons from the past offer invaluable insight into current approaches of adaptation, it also advances our understanding of those adaptations by making the inevitable discrepancies between past and present climate change less daunting and emphasizing the sustainable negotiations between humans and their surroundings that have been mediated by the changing climate for millennia. It will appeal to students and scholars interested in climate change, sustainability, and water management in the archaeological record.

The book can be bought at University of Colorado Press here.


AFRHES 5th september: Pikirayi, The Ecology of Water, Great Zimbabwe Mon, 22 Aug 2022 08:37:30 +0000


5 September, Innocent Pikirayi

                       16-18 (Stockholm time)

The Ecology of Water, Great Zimbabwe

Recent research at Great Zimbabwe interpreted the earthen scars or depressions located on the precincts of the monumental complexes, referred to in the archaeological record as ‘dhaka’ pits, as water storage facilities. We extend our research from these pits to examine the broader landscape context of Great Zimbabwe to understand the site’s catchment area, which, though limited in extent, its hilly terrain allows for very rapid runoff. This necessitated that water for consumption at Great Zimbabwe be harvested and stored. Great Zimbabwe’s granite geology is part of the crystalline rocks characterising much of the Zimbabwe craton, and such geological contexts serve as aquifers that also stored water the ancient residents used. Geological research during the past two or so decades on the potential composite or weathered-fractured rock aquifers developing within the weathered overburden calls for deeper understandings of granite hydrogeologic properties in the context of water conservation. In this seminar, we demonstrate this knowledge was known at Great Zimbabwe and used to sustain its residents.

Innocent Pikirayi (Ph.D. 1993, Uppsala) is professor in archaeology at the University of Pretoria. His research interests include geoarchaeology, development of ancient complex societies, water and social formation, and climate change. He is also a member of the IHOPE Scientific Steering Committee.

The Africa Historical Ecology Seminars (AFRHES) showcase case studies of historical ecologies all unified by their ambition to tie past with present day knowledge, contestations and debates around environmental management, resilience and vulnerability and societal sustainability.  The seminars are held every first Monday on months with uneven numbers see schedule and old seminars here


New book: Irrigation in Early States: New Directions Mon, 25 Jul 2022 13:44:02 +0000 The new book Irrigation in Early States: New Directions from The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The table of contents and formal book page can be found here:

The book, edited by Stephanie Rost is the outcome of a conference with the same totle bringing together scholars from across the globe, south and north America, Africa and Southeast Asia for an elaborate and detailed understanding of the complexity of irrigation and links to past urban and state societies. Challenging old assumption about “irrigation dependent civilisations” and evolutionary interpretations,  the book showcases the range of diverse arrangements of water and how it combined with many other factors to shape societies differently across the world. The cross-cultural approach opens up for a new understanding of irrigation and water management.

Contributions come from IHOPE scholars who are part of the Global Theme Water for Life See the individual contributions in the book!

LACHES Seminar 1st of August, Espinoza and Olivera Mon, 25 Jul 2022 13:22:14 +0000 Welcome to the 3rd LACHES seminar on Monday August 1st at 4 pm (Swedish time)!

16-16.40. Anthropogenic Changes in Lowland and Insular Ecuador

By Florencio Delgado Espinoza, Department of Liberal Arts (Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Dr Delgado does research in anthropological linguistics, biological anthropology and archaeology. He has been conducting investigations both in continental Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

17-17.40. Public-Religious Monumental Architecture in the Valley of Marañón, Upper Amazonia of Perú / Arquitectura Monumental de Carácter Público-Religioso en el Valle del Marañón, Alta Amazonia de Perú

By Segundo Quirino Olivera (Asociación para la Investigación Científica de la Amazonía de Perú (ASICAMPE)). With a background in archaeology, art history and cultural heritage, Dr Olivera has been researching the Peruvian Amazonia for the last decade.

See upcoming and filmed seminars here  Want to register to the sendlist and get the passcode, send email to:


The LACHES seminar

Since the 1998 publication of William Balée’s edited volume Advances in Historical Ecology, historical ecological research in Latin America and the Caribbean has examined complex socio-ecological interactions and historical trajectories in a wide variety of landscapes. This body of research evidences the development of a diversified field, with new methodological toolboxes and conceptual frameworks emerging to further advance the potential of historical ecological research to detail human behaviors and their planned and unintentional socio-ecological consequences, as well as broadened its critical scope. The aim of the Latin American and Caribbean Historical Ecology Seminars (LACHES) is to highlight a diverse research field characterized by an ambition to link knowledge about the past to present-day challenges by contributing to debates in natural resource and environmental management, deepening our understanding of resilience and vulnerability, and informing pathways to economic, ecological, and societal sustainability. The urgency of this field is eminent, with the diversity of land and resources not only under continuous attack from neoliberal exploitation, but with increasing pressure from “green investment” schemes, carbon sink policies, and conservation programs. The seminar series is sponsored by IHOPE ( and organized by a planning committee of scholars in Bolivia (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés), Brazil (Universidade de São Paulo), and Sweden (University of Gothenburg and Uppsala University). Drawing on case studies as starting point, these open seminars (in English, Spanish, or Portuguese) will discuss practical challenges and opportunities of historical ecological research, with particular reference to inclusive transdisciplinary research, actionable science, and informing policy.

New IHOPE book! Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:58:05 +0000 If the Past Teaches, What Does the Future Learn? Ancient Urban Regions and the Durable Future is the product of three workshops organized by the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE) and hosted by the US National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Maryland, USA. Architects, regional planners, and landscape architects joined archaeologists and other scholars to explore how cities in the past can inform cities of the future.

The discussions encompassed ancient urban regions in Ethiopia, the Maya lowlands, Atlantic Europe, and Southern Mesopotamia, along with some modern cities with long histories. Durability, diversity, and flexibility were identified as common factors in analyzing how people adapted to changing circumstances. Long-lived cities, taken together with their regions, offer useful insights for current urban infrastructure and technology; highlight past social, economic and political experiments; and suggest that, in the future, diverse urban forms and flexible management strategies can better match shifting environmental conditions.

The book can be found via this permalink for  download:

Soon the book is/will also be available as printing on demand via  various platforms

Press release by the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet): Fundraising to preserve Ukraine’s cultural heritage Wed, 22 Jun 2022 21:22:11 +0000 The Nordiska Museet foundation in collaboration with the Swedish National Heritage Board and other museum associates started a fundraising campaign to save cultural heritage under threat in the ongoing war in Ukraine, providing financial means to secure and protect museum collections.

The full press release can be read in the link below:

More extensive information is provided in the Swedish version of the article:

For donation, see the following text from the article:

“The fundraising welcomes contributions from both institutions as well as the public.

Bankgiro: 5475-9758
Swish: 1236280424
Label: “Insamling till Ukraina”

The collection of means for financial support is primarily intended for the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, in Kiev. The funds are for the hands-on rebuilding of the museum as soon as possible, and to secure the collections, as well as creating knowledge about them in Sweden, the Nordic countries, Europe, and the rest of the world. The collection will ensure swift and tangible efforts as soon as possible. “

Opportunity to Sign an Open Letter on the Environmental Dimensions of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Wed, 22 Jun 2022 20:54:29 +0000

The Environmental Peacebuilding Association initiated an open letter earlier this year regarding the Environmental Dimensions of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to the general topic of human welfare, the letter address the fact that the struggle in Ukraine also carry the risk of pollution from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster site and other radioactive and chemical facilities, the spread of fires in the Ramsar wetland Black Sea Biosphere Reserve and brings attention to the worlds’ reliance on fossil fuels and its recurrent intersection with violent conflicts.

The letter remains kept open for additional solidarity after the launch. For reading the news announcement with the full letter and a link to add your own signature, follow the link below:

The Mara Cultural Heritage Digital Library Goes Live! Tue, 21 Jun 2022 17:13:37 +0000 The Mara Cultural Heritage Digital Library is now live!

The library contains primary resources from the Mara Region of Tanzania collected by historian Dr. Jan Bender Shetler during her work. Photographs, interviews, videos and cultural materials such as maps and music are among the library’s impressive offerings.

You are welcome to browse through the collections and share this exciting resource with fellow researchers:

The library has been supported by a generous three year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the design work of the Matrix project at Michigan State University.


A photograph of Ginanani Chokora and Gejera Ginanani at Kyendege.
A sample from the library’s collection. Photograph of Ginanani Chokora and Gejera Ginanani at Kyendege.  Created by Ginanani Chokora, Gejera Ginanani, Nyawagamba Magotto, Kinanda Sigara, Jan Bender Shelter


Call for Papers: History of NASA and the Environment Symposium Sun, 12 Jun 2022 21:12:09 +0000 Organized by NASA, Georgetown University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology

Date: September 29-30, 2022 Location: Georgetown University/Hybrid

The NASA History Office, Georgetown University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology invite proposals for papers to be presented at a two-day symposium at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

The purpose of the symposium is to analyze the history of NASA’s interest in, responses to, exploration of, and impact upon, environments as broadly construed. The planning committee thus welcomes papers exploring NASA’s relationship to environments on Earth, on other planetary bodies, and in deep space, as well as papers undertaking a variety of methodological approaches including not only the history of science, environmental history, and the history of technology, but also social, cultural, political, economic, legal, and other types of historical analysis. Diverse scholars at every seniority level are encouraged to apply, and Georgetown is pleased to provide funding for hotel accommodations for two nights near the university. The format of the symposium will be a combination of panel discussions, keynote talks, and group discussion.

The intention is to publish an anthology of selected papers. If you wish to present a paper or have questions, please send an abstract of no more than 400 words and a short biography or curriculum vita, including affiliation, by July 1, 2022 to:

Dr. Brian C. Odom, NASA
Dr. Dagomar Degroot, Georgetown University
Dr. Neil Maher, New Jersey Institute of Technology