Bioarchaeological Perspectives on Climate Change and Climate Crisis

2nd December (14:00 CET – 19:00 CET) and 3rd December 2021 (14:00 CET – 19:00 CET)

About the Conference

The Human Bioarchaeology Unit of the Division of Natural Sciences of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) is organising a free online conference about long-term perspectives on climate change and climate crisis, from the point of view of those who saw it happening in the past, and of those that see it happening today.

This online event intends to promote a global perspective on how local changes in climatic conditions affected human adaptive strategies, and were triggered by them.

A key place in the debate will be occupied by bioarchaeological sciences, and particularly by those focused on human osteoarchaeology. Yet, multidisciplinary contributions will play a crucial role in outlining wider narratives and bridging past and present of climatic changes.

Climate has shaped our life and it has been shaped by it. Globally as well as locally.

Join our meeting, let’s talk together about what bioarchaeological assemblages can teach us on today’s climate crisis.

Keynote Lectures

Gwen Robbins Schug

Appalachian State University / University of North Carolina:

Bioarchaeology at the Nexus of Past and Present Climate Change

Choongwon Jeong

Seoul National University

Understanding the Origins of Tibetans and their Altitude Adaptations from a Genetic Perspective

Ryan Harrod

Garrett College / University of Alaska Anchorage

Bioarchaeology of Climate Change and Violence: Ethical Considerations in 2021


Thursday, 2nd December 2021 (14:00 CET – 19:00 CET)

14:00 CET Opening Session and Keynote Lecture by Gwen Robbins Schug


15:10 CET Session 1 and roundtable


17:15 CET Session 2 and roundtable

Friday, 3rd December 2021 (14:00 CET – 19:00 CET)

14:00 CET Keynote Lecture by Choongwon Jeong


14:40 CET Session 3 and roundtable


16:25 CET Session 4 and roundtable


18:20 CET Keynote Lecture by Ryan Harrod and Closing Session

last update: 26th November 2021


Invited Speakers: Albert Zink, Adam Boethius, Dione da Rocha Bandeira

Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding, droughts and global warming all put under threat ancient bioarchives, including osteological remains, which have survived for hundreds or thousands of years. This session aims to open a discussion about the environmental and social dynamics that fuel the increasing loss of ancient bioarchives, as well as to envision rescuing strategies for the future of our (bio)cultural heritage.

Invited Speakers: Richard Potts, Michael Petraglia, Louisa Loveluck

Climatic changes have driven human dispersal of different species of Homo all over the globe. For those of our ancestors who could survive them and thrived, environmental challenges became adaptive opportunities. Today, increasingly fast changes in climatic conditions are responsible for the displacement of people and the uprooting of entire social and cultural systems. By bridging the remote origins of climate change and its dramatic reality, this session will focus on resilience as key to face climate change and climate crisis.

Invited Speakers: Aida R. Barbera / Karl J. Reinhard / Morgana Camacho, Sharon DeWitte, Hanns-Christian Gunga

Our capacity to adapt is determined by the ability of our physiological system to face the changes triggered by fast dropping or rising temperatures, increased precipitation or aridization. The talks in this session will span from parasite infections, to the spread of diseases in over-crowded cities of the past and the increasingly high threat of modern climatic stressors. The discussion will build up a global perspective on the history of human health as tightly intertwined with that of climatic changes, and the coping strategies developed by different human groups through time.

Invited Speakers: Mark Allen, Rebecca Redfern, Kira Vinke

The history of droughts, famine and economic crisis caused by climatic changes is often read as a story of increased competition over the available resources, inter-group tensions and, ultimately, violence. Through the study of the bioarchaeological evidence, this session will open to new narratives, taking into account also mitigating strategies and inter-group cooperation as winning adaptive responses to climate change and climate crisis, in the past as well as today.

Call for Papers

Does your research fit the scope and aims of the online conference and you are eager to share it with us?

Calls for papers are now open!

Apply for a presentation (10-15 minutes) by sending a title, an abstract no longer than 300 words, the intended session and your contact information to

The deadline for abstract submission is the 21st November 2021.

Team and Contact

Division of Natural Sciences, German Archaeological Institute

Julia Gresky

Emmanuele Petiti

Christian Meyer

Luna Watkins

You can contact us via