Droughts and Attacking Oceans: An Archaeologist Looks at Climate Change

One of the great debates of our time focuses on the relationship between human society and climate, namely how do we plan and cope with long term climate change and plan for sustainability as the world’s population continues to grow.

Brian Fagan reflects on this issue by taking us on a journey through ancient societies affected and changed by major climate changes such as drought and sea level rise.  In what ways did people adapt to short- and long-term climate change?  How did they rise to the challenge of drought cycles and flooding caused by rising seas and extreme weather events?

This is a global exploration of societies simple and complex, egalitarian and highly stratified, ranging from the North Sea and Mayan civilisation to the Khmer empire and the effects of El Ninos on Peruvian states.  The lecture ends with a look at the uncertain climatic future and the challenges facing future generations as they grapple with climatic warming.

About the speaker

British-born and Cambridge University educated Brian Fagan is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading archaeological writers and has an international reputation as an author of influential books about major issues such as ancient climate change, the relationship between humans and water, past and present, and sustainability in ancient and contemporary subsistence level societies. His books have been translated into over nine languages.

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About The Hall Annual Lecture

The Hall Annual Lecture is UQ Archaeology’s annual public lecture in honour of the founder of archaeology at UQ, Associate Professor Jay Hall.

Associate Professor Jay Hall is the former Head of UQ’s Archaeology program. As well as an award-winning teacher, Jay is the editor of Queensland Archaeological research - a publication he started in 1984. Jay retired in 2007 after more than 30 years at the University. He is currently an Adjunct Reader in Archaeology in the School of Social Science at UQ.


St Lucia Campus, Abel Smith Building (#23)
Lecture Theatre 101