PhD Courses in Denmark

Cross-cultural and Cross-latitudinal Responses to Extreme Weather and Climate Events in the Ancient World

Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University


As the pace of global climate change is accelerated, questions revolving around the dynamic, long-term relationship between communities and their environment are widely debated across disciplines in the humanities, social, and natural sciences and are increasingly attracting the attention of the general public. Archaeology's unique emphasis on long-term human-environment interactions allows us to reflect on the ways in which past communities responded to extreme or unpredictable weather and climate events and to explore the long-term implications of these responses. 

A key objective of this course shall be to reflect on ways of achieving uniformity in our methodologies by exploring case studies that capture geographic variability in human responses and bringing together scholars working from Arctic to Subtropical environments.

Relatedly, we will discuss the affiliated changes we would expect to see in the archaeological record. These expectations would take into consideration regional differences as impacted by local socio-political, cultural, and environmental particulars. Furthermore, models would account for the types of fluctuations communities are perennially accommodating without suffering systemic changes. Why does systemic fragmentation or collapse occur when previously the same system was resilient under pressure? We will seek to identify the archaeological proxies associated with changes in social processes such as subsistence strategies, food storage, network structure, mobility, migration, conflict and other relevant correlates of risk management in response to paleoclimatic shifts. 

This course follows a one-day workshop on the same topic which will take place at Aarhus University on 30 June 2022.


This course offers research-led teaching that incorporates case studies selected to represent a broad introduction of the main methods, research questions, and theoretical considerations that drive research into the complex relationship between human communities and their changing environments, particularly where aspects related to disaster response and risk management are concerned. 

Beyond this, the three aims of this course are:

1. To familiarize students with available datasets, climate archives, and models employed for paleoclimatic reconstructions.

2. To problematize current research trends at the nexus of climate-society-environment.

3. To explore ways of achieving methodological consistency around modelling human responses to paleoclimatic shifts.

Target group:

Early and late stage PhD students.


Lectures and presentations.




Dr. Heli Huhtamaa (U. Bern, Switzer-land)
Dr. Federica Sulas (University of Cam-bridge, UK)
Dr. Elena Xoplaki (Justus Liebig Univer-sity Giessen, Germany) 

Dr. Ioana A. Dumitru (Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, Aarhus University)


Case Studies are a requirement for admission.

Each participant is required to register via and to submit the following documents by 1 June 2022:

1. A case study of 3-4 pages (including bibliography), detailing the project in relation to the course topic. The cases can pertain to the student's own project, previous experience, or a case inspired by literature review. The case studies will be pre-circulated among course participants by 15 June 2022. In addition, they will be reviewed by the course organizing team and discussed in Module 2;

2. A CV (maximum 2 pages);

3. A cover letter (maximum 1-page) explaining the motivation for participating.

Students can submit application materials to Ioana A. Dumitru

Student presentations: participants will be required to present their case study in Module 2. The presentation will last approximately 10-15 mins (depending on the number of participants) and will be followed by a 10-15 mins Q&A session in which the students will receive feedback from the lecturers and their peers.

Application deadline:

Please sign in via this link no later than 1 June 2022.