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VIRTUAL - Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece (SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture)
May 12, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
This is an online event.
Sponsored by: AIA, SCS
Speaker: Amanda Gaggioli, PhD Candidate, Department of Classics | Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University
Bio: Amanda’s research combines specializations in archaeology, history, and ancient languages with environmental sciences, particularly geoarchaeology and soil micromorphology, to interpret cultural forms of environmental knowledge, cultural practices, landscapes, and paleoenvironments that factored into societal developments. This combined work accounts for the resilience and political ecology of socio-environmental systems in all aspects of Greco-Roman civilization.
Abstract: Earthquakes have been linked with societal collapse in various places throughout the past, most notably in the eastern Mediterranean with the end of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BCE) and the division and decline of the Roman Empire from the fourth to sixth centuries CE. Archaeological evidence of widespread destruction, complemented by an inflation of historical earthquake records for late Roman contexts, points to periods of higher seismicity coinciding with political and economic weakening and socio-cultural downturn. However, since ancient times, humans living with persistent earthquake hazards have demonstrated forms of resilience. I show how earthquakes traditionally perceived as ‘natural’ disasters are not ‘natural’ but social and a critical factor in political ecological relationships through the case of Helike, Greece from the third millennium BCE to fifth century CE. New methods from geoarchaeology and soil micromorphology combined with evidence ranging from Greco-Roman perceptions on earthquakes in textual records combined with destruction, innovation, and invention in settlement architecture and soft sediment deformation structures (SSDS) in soil thin sections prove such ‘catastrophe’ theories to be either false or simplistic. The results expose the persistent factor of earthquakes and other geological hazards in the resilience and political ecology of human-environment relationships in the Greco-Roman society and culture.
The case of Helike demonstrates how factors of earthquakes and other geological hazards persistently shaped and were shaped bysocio-cultural, economic, and political developments. The use of innovative methodological approaches and techniques to new types of data confronts catastrophe narratives and reveals a resilience and political ecology of human-earthquake relationships.Register Here