Building ancient lives

Can the study of our ancient past help us address our current sustainability issues? Edinburgh researchers consider new perspectives on the past for a sustainable future.

Can the study of our ancient past help us address our current sustainability issues?

Event description

The “Building Ancient Lives” project is interested in how people in the past built the structures that sheltered, supported and constituted their way of life. But the themes discussed - permanence of construction and periodic maintenance, durability of materials and use of renewable resources are topics that could not be more contemporary. Understanding how people built in the past can help addressing current problems of sustainable building.

Archaeologists Professor Jim Crow and Dr Tanja Romankiewicz in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA) are developing a research project to find inspiration from prehistoric architectures for sustainable building today. Working closely with colleagues Professor Remo Pedreschi, Lisa Moffitt and Dr Kate Carter from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture ( ESALA), the project takes an explicitly archaeological, architectural and ecological approach.

After a successful international workshop held in March this year, an international colloquium open to everyone will now be held on Thursday 6 November 2014, to present initial results, new methodologies of research and place the question of sustainable building in a wider geographical as well as chronological context.

The colloquium will again bring together archaeologists, architects and engineers to present case studies and discuss how sustainable and how permanent dwelling was in the prehistoric and Roman past - juxtaposed with modern issues of finding solutions for sustainable building in local communities by studying this past.


The keynote speakers at the event are:

  • Professor Peter Walker, University of Bath, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Director BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, BRE Trust Chair of Innovative Construction Materials
  • Professor Ian Armit, University of Bradford, School of Life Sciences, Archaeological Sciences, Professor of Archaeology
  • PD Dr Sabine Reinhold, German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Eurasia Department.

Event details Thursday 6 November 2014, 9.30am Meeting room, Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2JL

The colloquium will run from 9.30 - 17.30 on Thursday 6 November 2014.

Conference programme

The full conference programme is now available.

Register online

The colloquium is funded by the Challenge Investment Fund of the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh and free to attend, but please register online via the University's online booking system to receive more detailed programme information.

Further information

For further information on this project and the forthcoming colloquium please contact Dr Tanja Romankiewicz.

Dr Tanja Romankiewicz

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

  • School of History, Classics and Archaeology
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Room 1.M28, William Robertson Wing
Old Medical School

Post Code

Knowledge exchange partners

Simpson & Brown Architects have kindly agreed to support this conference by including it in their Continuing Professional Development staff allowance. Partner Jenny Humphreys has also offered assistance with organising architects for chairing sessions during the conference. Their support is greatly appreciated.