Title

History Meets Palaeoscience: Consilience and Collaboration in Studying Past Societal Responses to Environmental Change

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-12-2018

Publication Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Volume

115

Issue

13

First page number:

3210

Last page number:

3218

Abstract

History and archaeology have a well-established engagement with issues of premodern societal development and the interaction between physical and cultural environments; together, they offer a holistic view that can generate insights into the nature of cultural resilience and adaptation, as well as responses to catastrophe. Grasping the challenges that climate change presents and evolving appropriate policies that promote and support mitigation and adaptation requires not only an understanding of the science and the contemporary politics, but also an understanding of the history of the societies affected and in particular of their cultural logic. But whereas archaeologists have developed productive links with the paleosciences, historians have, on the whole, remained muted voices in the debate until recently. Here, we suggest several ways in which a consilience between the historical sciences and the natural sciences, including attention to even distant historical pasts, can deepen contemporary understanding of environmental change and its effects on human societies.

Keywords

Adaptation; Collapse; Consilience; History; Resilience

Disciplines

Anthropology | Paleontology

Language

english

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