Historians and paleoclimatologists approach the past from vastly different traditions and experiences but share a passion for past environments and peoples. In this presentation, three scholars will discuss how a cold call in 2011 initiated a dialogue between a historian (Nicola Di Cosmo) and a group of paleoclimatologists (Amy Hessl, Caroline Leland, Neil Pederson, Oyunsanaa Byambasuren, Baatarbileg Nachin, and Kevin Anchukaitis) that would change our understanding of steppe empires and the role of climate in their evolution. The collaboration led to the development of new ideas that would not have emerged without a mutual understanding of their respective fields. They each learned new tools and approaches, and how to interpret new data sources, while at the same time recognizing their limitations. This joint understanding allowed the collaborators to identify novel connections between climate, ecology, political innovations, and trade.
Nicola Di Cosmo, Luce Foundation Professor in East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study
Amy Hessl, Professor of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University
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