CONF: Shifting fluvial landscapes in the Roman world

Seen on the Classicists list:

We are pleased to announce the upcoming OXREP conference on environmental change and rivers in the Roman Empire:

Shifting Fluvial Landscapes in the Roman World:
New directions in the study of ancient rivers

The Old Library, All Souls College, Oxford, 26–27 June 2014

Often discussed merely as the passive settings of various historical events,
rivers are and were complex, ever-shifting features of the landscape which
affected settlement in innumerable ways. This conference highlights new and
diverse paths of research that broaden our understanding of how rivers
influenced life within the Roman Empire.

If we now understand that climatic fluctuation was widespread in antiquity,
we must also understand how these changes affected day-to-day life. How did
climatic and environmental change affect inter-annual variation in
hydrology? How did flood and drought cycles change along with these factors?
How did these changes affect those living along the rivers, and how did
human activity curb or encourage fluvial change? Moreover, how did changes
in fluvial landscapes affect the utilization of rivers for transportation
and communication? Was living alongside so many waterways always a blessing,
or was it also a curse?

Papers address different river systems across the Empire in order to bring
out regional and chronological variations. By uniting experts in
archaeology, ancient history, geomorphology, and climate this conference
will discuss new approaches to studying rivers in antiquity. Such an
interdisciplinary approach will help reveal the real-world realities of life
amongst the shifting fluvial landscapes of the Roman world.

There is no conference fee, but to help us estimate numbers for tea and
coffee those who wish to attend are asked to register by emailing Tyler
Franconi (tyler.franconi AT

Provisional Programme:

Thursday, 26 June

2:00–2:15 T. Franconi and A. Wilson (Oxford): Welcome and introduction.
2:15–3:00 B. Campbell (Queen’s Belfast): Watery perspectives.
3:00–3:45 J.-P. Bravard (Lyon): River adjustments to change at the watershed
scale and human adaptation during the Roman period: recent approaches and
perspectives for future studies.

3:45–4:15 Coffee break

4:15–5:00 C. Morhange (Aix), P. Carmona (Valencia), & N. Marriner
(Besançon): Geoarchaeology of fluvial Mediterranean harbours, from natural
environment to anthropogenic impacts.
5:00–5:45 A. Wilson (Oxford): Rivers, wadis and climate in North Africa:
torrents and drought.
5:45–6:30 M. McCormick (Harvard): Discussion.

6:30 Wine reception

Friday, 27 June

10:00–10:45 T. Franconi (Oxford): Pater Rhenus: the hydrological history of
Rome’s German frontier.
10:45–11:30 P. Leveau (Aix): Le Bas-Rhône: sites, fleuve et risque

11:30–12:00 Coffee break

12:00–12:45 J.-P. Goiran (Lyon) & F. Salomon (Southampton): Roman harbours
of Ostia and Portus: geoarchaeology and landscape evolution on the Tiber Delta.

12:45–2:15 Lunch

2:15–3:00 P. Niewöhner (Oxford): Miletus and the Maeander Estuary: the
maintenance of socio-economic structures in the face of a deteriorating
3:00–3:45 M. Whiting (Oxford): Gift of the Orontes: fluvial landscapes of
northwest Syria in Late Antiquity.

3:45–4:15 Coffee break

4:15–5:00 B. Haug (Michigan): From reclamation to abandonment: A longue
durée perspective on irrigation in Egypt’s Fayyum depression.
5:00–6:00 N. Purcell (Oxford): Concluding discussion.

6:00 Wine reception