Stephan Matthiesen

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Climate and human history (OLL Sep-Dec 2007)

My evening class at at the Office for Lifelong Learning, the University of Edinburgh, investigates the effects of climate change on some periods of world history. It runs for 10 evenings from 26 Sep. 2007.

Course Information

With Global Warming constantly in the media the science of climate change has never been more relevant. But what are the facts behind the headlines? Major changes in climate have occurred throughout the ages, but how did different civilisations handle their effects? This fully illustrated course uses the latest results from archaeology and climate science to show how some societies were able to adapt while others crumbled in the face of climate change. The lessons for 21st century civilisation will be discussed.

Organisation

  • Tutor: Stephan Matthiesen
  • Lectures: Wednesdays from 26 September 2007 (10 Classes) 6:30pm - 8:30pm
  • Drumlanrig Room, 11 Buccleuch Place
  • £75.00/£50.00 conc.

Course Contents

Chapter 1: Climate and climate history — 26 Sep 2007

Summary:
Introducing the basics of the climate system and methods to reconstruct climate history.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 1.7Mb)

Chapter 2: The Ice Age — 10 Oct 2007

Summary:
Humans spreading out of Africa throughout the world.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 1.4Mb)

Chapter 3: Farming and City States — 17 Oct 2007

Summary:
From ca 13000BC, a warmer and wetter climate may have supported farming in the Near East, and the development of city states could be linked to dryer conditions later on.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 844kb)

Chapter 4: The Roman Empire — 24 Oct 2007

Summary:
Changes between 500 BC and 500 AD.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 1.5Mb)

Chapter 5: Tang and Maya in the 10th century — 31 Oct 2007

Summary:
Both the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the Maya collapsed at a time when monsoon patterns changed.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 867kb)

Chapter 6: The Mediaevil Optimum and the Little Ice Age — 7 Nov 2007

Summary:
The Vikings settled in Greenland and disappeared again, and the start of the Little Ice Age correlates with the end of the Middle Ages.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 484b)

Chapter 7: El Niño through the Ages — 14 Nov 2007

Summary:
The Pacific climate oscillation and its possible impacts on South America and Asia throughout history.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 603kb)

Chapter 8: Miscellaneous topics — 21 Nov 2007

Summary:
By popular demand: the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
Course Material:
Presentation (PDF, 405kb)
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