Ancient Environments and Their Legacy

Long-Term Environmental Interactions, Ecological Knowledge, and the Transformative Potential of Myth

Although ancient culture has strongly influenced our perceptions and conceptualisations of ‘nature‘, it is interesting to note that the premodern world only plays a marginal role in the paradigm of the “Environmental Humanities“. By tracing the ecological knowledge stored in ancient sources and in illustrating how it relates to and what role it can play for modern takes on environmental problems, our stream will bring ancient environments center stage in a debate that is narrowly focused on the ‘Anthropocene‘.

The stream will explore a range of evidence, from myths and philosophical treatises to epigraphic evidence and archaeological remains, to consider the ways ancient environments were socio-culturally constructed as living entities, respondent (maybe even vulnerable) to human actions and decision-making. It will also show the equally important role of natural processes in the transformation and co-construction of ancient landscapes from pre-classical times onwards. This will provide the basis for discussing the role of premodernity in bringing about a truly “transformative environmental humanities“ research in both theory and practice.

Streams organiser: Christopher Schliephake and Esther Eidinow.