Climate, History, and Nomadic Empires: Case Studies and Questions of Method

Speaker: 
Nicola di Cosmo, Luce Foundation Professor in East Asian Studies Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
Date: 
Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Location: 
Virtual via Zoom

Please join MIT Anthropology for a virtual lecture and discussion:

Climate, History, and Nomadic Empires: Case Studies and Questions of Method

Nicola Cosmo Luce Foundation Professor in East Asian Studies Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University

Discussants: David McGee(EAPS)

Manduhai Buyandelger (Anthropology)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Register at https://mit.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYrfu6pqj8oHtHdPMmio4XjleD_y4y4Hk_d to receive Zoom meeting room invitation

questions? contact Kate Gormley (kgormley@mit.edu)

 
Climate data can lead to new interpretations of historical events and, more broadly, the co-dependency between human and natural systems. The world-historical significance of the nomadic empires that emerged in the steppe regions of Inner Asia over the past two and a half millennia is beyond question. Nevertheless, the economic, social, and political processes involved in their rise and fall is poorly understood. The availability of high-definition proxy-generated paleoclimatic reconstructions holds new promise to advance knowledge of the pastoral nomads who built these empires. How to access and deploy climate data in historical analysis, however, can be controversial, as shown in recent narratives of “collapse”. The case of nomadic empires is especially challenging because much of the knowledge base is derived from archaeological and ethnographic research, rather than documentary archives. Through case studies from the ancient Türk (7th CE), Uyghur (8th-9th CE) and Mongol (13th-14th CE) empires, this paper develops a model for more expansive multi-disciplinary methods and richer reinterpretation.