Master’s students in Sustainable Cultural Heritage attended AUR’s 37th Annual Conference of the Association of Environmental Archaeology addressing “Synthesis and Change in Palaeoenvironmental studies in the Mediterranean.” The conference was held September 29-October 3, 2016 in collaboration with the American Academy in Rome and the Association for Environmental Archaeology.
After a plenary speech given by Graeme Barker at the American Academy in Rome, the conference kicked off as a habitat for discussion of the links between archaeology, environmental studies and historical studies. A chief theme of discussion throughout the conference was the relationship between heritage studies and scientific studies of the environment. Throughout the three-day conference, papers and posters were presented on a wide array of topics connecting these areas.
There was great discussion throughout the conference on ways to get funding for environmental archaeology projects and on heritage projects. While generally, the funding is declining around the world, initiatives such as Horizon2020 seek to direct funding to heritage and archaeological studies and many ideas were presented at the conference on ways to capitalize on possible funding.
AUR professor, Pier Matteo Barone presented a paper he wrote on the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in the discovery of underground archaeological sites and demonstrated the relationship between technology and archaeology which goes far beyond bulldozers and heavily destructive archaeological tools. Another professor, Jens Koehler, presented on the effects of climate on Rome’s aqueducts in a paper with special focus on the Aqua Alexandrina. By scientifically investigating sediment and calcium deposits, Professor Koehler was able to gather some preliminary data concerning the water levels and seasonal tendencies of the Aqua Alexandrina ducts. AUR Professor Valerie Higgins also gave a paper highlighting the relationship between landscapes and culture and demonstrated the environment’s large role in intangible heritage landscapes.
The conference covered a wide array of topics, but a general consensus from all of the papers presented is that the future of environmental studies and the future of heritage and archaeological studies rely on each other. Together, the diverse areas are subject to greater funding opportunities, greater cross-field research collaborations, and hopefully more inclusive and wider-reaching outcomes.