- About the Center
- Student Resources
- Grants & Fellowships
- Related Programs
Special Seminar: Climate and Cultural Change in Western Eurasia. Progress and Challenges from Millennia-Length Tree-Ring Records
Edward R. Cook, Tree-Ring Laboratory, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
Climate variability and change is increasingly recognized as contributing to past cultural change and collapse. But its impact can be controversial, even in Western Eurasia, where historical and archeological records of past cultural change are abundant for the last 2000 years.
Much uncertainty stems from our still rudimentary understanding of climate change over Western Eurasia from the time of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance. But millennia-long tree-ring chronologies over Western Eurasia are now closing the knowledge gap , with similar relevant advances occurring in Central and East Asia as well. Can we use these exactly dated and annual archives of environmental change to reconstruct a past climate context for times of cultural change and collapse in Western Eurasia? What are some examples? What are the caveats to avoid overestimating the role of climate in cultural change?
Dr. Cook co-founded the Tree-Ring Laboratory in 1975, which is dedicated to expanding tree-ring research around the world to improve our understanding of environmental history. He has contributed to numerous research projects and papers tracking the cultural impact of climate change on the Roman Empire, on the fate of Angkor in the Khmer Empire, on the megadroughts in the long history of the American Southwest, and much more.
Reception to follow in the CGIS South Concourse.
Dr. Cook’s talk is sponsored by the Science of the Human Past and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.