Session: #136

Theme & Session Format

Global change and archaeology
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

CANCELLED Roman Nature and the Beginning of the Anthropocene
In the last two decades the current, unprecedented environmental crisis has led many scholars to radically rethink the anthropocentric model of empires, centred on the control of ideology, politics, economics and the military (e.g. Mann 1986), and instead acknowledge the central role played by nature in shaping social power (e.g. Elvin & Ts'ui-jung 1998; Mikhail 2013). At the same time, the scientific validation of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene, dramatically confirmed the overwhelming and irreversible influence that human activities have on our planet. When this new epoch began is highly debatable, but huge environmental impacts from human activity certainly occurred in the Roman period due to the increased scale of urbanisation, production, and consumption. Given the growing awareness of the indelible mark we make on the planet, this panel will look back at one of the largest power networks of the past, the Roman Empire, to re-examine Roman perceptions of nature, power, and power over nature to help us better understand our present situation. By offering a lively and challenging setting for discussion from renowned nature writers to established Roman scholars, the panel will foster new approaches to explain the relationship between human societies and their natural environments, providing a novel interpretative framework for current and past environmental crises.
Roman, Anthropocene, Nature, Roman Empire, Archaeoolgy and Environment, Scale
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Main organiser:
Matthew Mandich (United States) 1,2
Giacomo Savani (United Kingdom) 3
Kyle Harper (United States) 4
2. Independent Scholar
3. University of Leeds
4. University of Oklahoma