School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Building ancient lives

Can the study of our ancient past help us address our current sustainability issues? (Published 28 April 2014)

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

Studying the past to inform the future may seem an over-used stereotype, however, analysing ancient lives for answers to current problems can have practical consequences.

Archaeologists in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA) are seeking to address issues of sustainability for the built environment, both past and present. Professor Jim Crow and Dr Tanja Romankiewicz are developing a research project to gather insight into ancient constructions and materials and to find inspiration for sustainable building today.

A joint venture

The workshop and project “Building Ancient Lives” is a joint venture between HCA and colleagues from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), Professor Remo Pedreschi, Lisa Moffitt and Dr Kate Carter, which forms part of the University’s Edinburgh College of Art. In its explicitly archaeological, architectural and ecological approach the project will be interdisciplinary.

Workshops and fieldwork

A two-day international workshop was held on 25 and 26 March at the University of Edinburgh. The workshop brought together leading international academics, commercial archaeologists, archaeological scientists, architects and engineers. Planners and local authority archaeologists and heritage managers from Historic Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland also attended.

Amidst innovative dialogue and discussion, the workshop explored new avenues of research and knowledge transfer. A field trip the following day helped place the debate into a physical landscape context.

Archaeology fieldwork

Future developments

The fruitful outcome of the initial workshop is already nurturing national and international research collaborations and knowledge exchange projects.

Initial research by the team at University of Edinburgh over the summer will prepare for a further colloquium to disseminate first outcomes and discuss future research potential.

The longer term aim of the project is to feed current work into a larger project proposal to address sustainable building in a landscape context for past and future generations.

Project funding

The current phase of workshop, colloquium and research is generously funded by the Challenge Investment Fund of the College of Humanities and Social Science at University of Edinburgh. The wider project has been supported by University of Edinburgh’s Innovation Initiative Grant and the University’s Moray Endowment Fund, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.

Further information

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

Dr Tanja Romankiewicz

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

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

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Room 1.M28, William Robertson Wing
Old Medical School

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