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Pollution and the Environment in Ancient Times

International Conference on Relationship between Humans and Environment in Ancient World from October 16 to 18 in Berlin State Library

№ 345/2014 from Oct 09, 2014

An international conference being held from October 16 to 18 in Berlin will focus on pollution and environmental awareness of people in the ancient world. The conference is being held by Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with the Topoi Excellence Cluster. It will deal with a topic that has been neglected so far. The participants will address the issue of whether a sensitivity to the environment existed in ancient times and of how pollution or the destruction of nature and the use of natural resources was considered during these times. The opening lecture on October 16 will be given by Klaus Geus, a professor of historical geography at Freie Universität Berlin who is specialized in the ancient Mediterranean. He is the spokesperson for a group of researchers of the Topoi Excellence Cluster. The conference will be held in the Berlin State Library. It is open to the public, and admission is free.

The relationship between humans and the environment, which is one of the major current issues for humanity, left many traces that are being discovered in classical studies. Up to now, most studies dealing with this topic were done from the perspective of landscape archaeology. Research in the field of religious studies also addressed the relationship between nature, humans, and the gods. At this conference, the participants will address the issue of environmental awareness in the thought, jurisdiction, and everyday life during ancient times. Their aim is to provide a first reconstruction of consciousness and reflection about the environment, since pollution and the exploitation of natural resources, such as inappropriate water management and deforestation, already took place in ancient times.

The conference devoted to Pollution and the Environment in Ancient Life and Thought is being organized by Dr. Orietta Cordovana from the University of Edinburgh and Dr. Gian Franco Chiai from Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with the Common Sense Geography Group of the Topoi Cluster of Excellence, a joint research association of Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität. It is being sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Time and Location

  • October 16 to 18, 2014, first event: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday, the meetings will start at 9:30 a.m.
  • Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), Haus Potsdamer Straße, Simon-Bolivar-Saal, Potsdamer Straße 33, 10785 Berlin (Tiergarten); subway and S-Bahnhof: Potsdamer Platz, U 2, S1, S2, S25.

Links to the Conference Program

Further Information

Dr. Gian Franco Chiai, Freie Universität Berlin, Friedrich Meinecke Institute, Historical Geography of the Ancient Mediterranean, Tel.: +49 30 838-53466, Email: