NU Ideas at the Lit & Phil | 8

Events List

Thursday 29th February | 6:00 pm

LIVE Lit & Phil Event | FREE


Image of a water droplet, sourced from Unsplashed

The eighth in our series of NU Ideas talks

Please Note: Unfortunately, one of the lecturers is unable to take part in this talk, so we have a change in line-up:

“Unveiling ancient mysteries: Paleoclimate data and the fate of civilizations” by Dr Vasile Ersek

has been replaced by

“Ancient landscape engineering in the Bolivian Amazon” by Prof. Bronwen Whitney.

Ancient landscape engineering in the Bolivian Amazon
Prof. Bronwen Whitney (Geography and Environmental Sciences)Join me as we travel back through time to understand how past societies of the Amazon modified sometimes difficult environments to meet their requirements for food, materials and transport. The Amazon is frequently portrayed as a vast untouched rainforest, but past civilisations have played a strong role in shaping these tropical landscapes long before European colonisation changed the Americas drastically. This talk focuses on the Llanos de Mojos, an enormous seasonally-flooded savannah landscape in the headwaters of the Amazon. Modern satellite imagery reveals a diversity of relict earthworks modifications, such as raised fields and weir structures, that pepper the landscape. Drawing on my own published and emerging research and comparative datasets from archaeologists, I seek to find out why and when these earthworks were created by examining microfossils preserved in wetland and lake sediments. These ‘archives of the earth’ show that the Amazon experienced increasing rainfall over the past millennia, therefore the earthwork modifications are early examples of hydrological engineering and water management strategies.


The life of water infrastructure: lessons learned from the ancient Romans
Dr Davide Motta (Engineering and Environment)

Ancient Roman water infrastructure – aqueducts, water distribution and drainage systems – provides prominent examples of systems designed, built, operated, and adapted for the long term. Studying it today, through the interdisciplinary collaboration of archaeologists, civil engineers and environmental scientists, reveals a compelling history of human interaction with the natural and built environments. For instance, the marks left by the ancient flows in aqueducts in the form of calcium carbonate accumulation conceal information on those ancient flows and their variation in response to climate or usage changes; the design and construction practices of aqueducts show signs of adaptation to ensure sustained system operation and to meet varying water demand driven by urbanisation; stormwater drainage systems include solutions for storing or draining water and managing its impact on cities and their inhabitants. This centuries-long history of interaction continues to this day, when the ancient infrastructure, now archaeological record, may be at risk, because of a changing climate.


(If you would prefer to book directly over the phone, please call the Library Desk team on 0191 232 0192 and they will be happy to help.)

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