The aim of the project Climate and ancient societies in Bronze Age Peloponnese (Greece) – CASE – is to provide new and integrated knowledge regarding the vulnerability and resilience of human societies to climate change, for which the Peloponnese peninsula is utilized as a field laboratory. The project thereby builds on the results from the Domesticated Landscapes of the Peloponnese (DoLP) project (now completed).

The Swedish Research Council finances CASE for a period of four years (2020-2024).

Throughout history, societies on the Peloponnese have relied on an agro-pastoral economy for their subsistence, with surplus turned into commodities for trade. The semi-arid and often unpredictable climate made this economic basis constantly exposed to the risk of reductions in rainfall. The rich archaeological and paleoenvironmental records of the Peloponnese provide crucial information on how different societies and societal structures under these circumstances adapted to and utilized changing environmental conditions arising from climate change over the short-term and the long-term.

A wide-angle photo of the Pelopennese landscape, showing small farm fields surrounded by trees and flowers in the foreground, and mountains in the background.
The Peloponnese peninsula is defined by a topography that varies greatly over short distances. Consequently, the region encompasses several topographical, climatological and ecological niches that makes it exceptionally well suited as a field laboratory for climate change research. Here a high-altitude area near the coast of the Corinthian Gulf, N Peloponnese, featuring small, cultivated fields and a herd of goats rummaging through the landscape.

CASE is an explicitly interdisciplinary project and combines resilience perspectives with vulnerability assessments using the concept of diversity as an integrative tool. Vulnerability assessment are focused on diachronic trends in three source categories for the span of the Bronze Age (ca. 3200‒1050 BCE): settlement, ceramic and paleoclimate data. These trends will provide a basis for establishing indices of vulnerability, to assess the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of Bronze Age societies to climate change. The fluctuations of the indices and the degree of correlation between them provide significant information on probable causality between factors of change and on how different societal elements contribute to the resourcefulness of humans in the face of climate change.

While vulnerability assessments provide a dynamic framework for quantitative evaluations and for comparative studies based on attributes and indices, resilience perspectives provide important heuristic tools for qualitative considerations of societal features that work to decrease vulnerabilities and increase the functioning of societies in the face of climate change. The dimensions of vulnerability, combined with the main principles for building resilience thereby provides the bases for the theoretical and methodological framework for CASE. A key concept for the operationalisation of vulnerability and resilience in relation to Peloponnesian source categories is the concept of diversity. As a core dimension of both resilience and vulnerability (often defined as the lack of diversity), it has an obvious role to play in assessments of the workability of societies in the face of climate change (as shown by the IHOPE-Southwest US research project) .

Publications of the DoLP and CASE projects.


Erika Weiberg (PI, specialist on Bronze Age Greece), Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden),

Martin Finné (paleoclimatologist), Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden/Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, Sweden,