Published: Oct. 26, 2023
Wheat field with mountain in background

Environmental Change in Ancient Anatolia

Professor John M. Marston

Wednesday, November 8th at 7:00pm
Eaton Humanities #250 & Zoom (REGISTER HERE)
Free and open to the public



Identifying how societies make decisions about agricultural practices is important for understanding why some agricultural systems flourish over hundreds or thousands of years while others lead to environmental degradation and societal collapse. Archaeological data offer a unique long-term perspective on the sustainability of agriculture and how societies adapt to complex, intertwined changes in environment and economy on both local and regional scales.

In this lecture, Dr. John M. Marston (Boston University) presents recent work from the ancient urban center of Gordion in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), where complex agricultural strategies were employed to adapt to coincident environmental and social change on both local and regional scales. By situating Gordion within its regional agricultural setting over time, Marston concludes that an understanding of local political economy is necessary to reconstruct agricultural decision making and helps to understand patterns of anthropogenic environmental change.

Dr. John M. Marston
 (PhD UCLA) is a professor of archaeology and anthropology at Boston University. As an environmental archaeologist, he studies the long-term sustainability of agriculture and land use, with a focus on ancient societies of the Mediterranean and western and central Asia. His research focuses on how people make decisions about land use within changing economic, social, and environmental settings, and how those decisions affect the environment at local and regional scales. A specialist in paleoethnobotany, the study of archaeological plant remains, Marston’s contributions to the field include novel ways of linking ecological theory with archaeological methods to reconstruct agricultural and land-use strategies from plant and animal remains. His current research projects include multi-proxy reconstruction of agriculture in Bronze and Iron Age urban centers of Turkey and Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Islamic sites in Israel.