Session: #48

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Ebb & Flow: Exploring Rivers from Prehistory to the Present Day
From prehistory to the present day, evidence for the practical, political, economic, and cosmological significance of rivers abounds. Rivers flow, so can move people and objects. They are niches, providing food and water for humans, plants, and animals alike. To say that rivers have always been essential to life is an understatement. As both potential corridors and territorial divides, they are entangled with the communities living around them. This session aims to think about the many different roles that rivers have played throughout time and think holistically about rivers as active agents with the capacity to shape human behaviour. With this aim in mind, this session has no chronological or geographical parameters, in order to facilitate an inclusive discussion.

We welcome case studies that investigate any number of topics, including rivers as borders that divide regions; routeways that connect people and promote human and object mobility; and places to conduct specific types of cultural activity. Rivers are particularly diagnostic of and sensitive to physical and anthropogenic forces, so they are ideal archaeological records and can be studied using a variety of methods. We therefore welcome case studies that highlight different proxies that can be used to evaluate human-river interaction and the scientific/archaeological/geological analysis techniques we can employ to inform our understandings. Central to this session is the goal to explore the theory of interpreting the archaeology we find in, on, and around rivers; to move past interpreting human and river interaction as a set of cause-and-effect behaviours and instead consider it as a complex and entangled relationship.
rivers, prehistory, fluvial
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Courtney Nimura (United Kingdom) 1
Christopher Evans (United Kingdom) 2
Peter Skoglund (Sweden) 3
Rick Schulting (United Kingdom) 1
Anwen Cooper (United Kingdom) 2
1. University of Oxford
2. Cambridge Archaeological Unit/University of Cambridge
3. Linnaeus University