2021 Braidwood Lecture February 13, 2021 @ 2:00 PM: John M. Marston, PhD, Boston University

Agricultural Strategies and Environmental Change in Ancient Anatolia


​Identifying how societies make decisions about agricultural practices is important for understanding why some agricultural systems flourish over hundreds or thousands of years while others lead to environmental degradation and societal collapse. Archaeological data offer a unique long-term perspective on the sustainability of agriculture and how societies adapt to complex, intertwined changes in environment and economy on both local and regional scales.

In this lecture, I present recent work from the ancient urban center of Gordion in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), where complex agricultural strategies were employed to adapt to coincident environmental and social change on both local and regional scales. By situating Gordion within its regional agricultural setting over time, I conclude that an understanding of local political economy is necessary to reconstruct agricultural decision making and helps to predict patterns of anthropogenic environmental change.



John (Mac) Marston is Associate Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Director of the Archaeology Program at Boston University.  He holds his degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (Ph.D.) and Washington University, St. Louis, and his research interests are environmental archaeology and paleoethnobotany, sustainability and resilience, agricultural risk management. Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology, stable isotope biogeochemistry, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction.  Professor Marston has numerous articles in preparation, and his most recently published volume is Agricultural Sustainability and Environmental Change at Ancient Gordion (University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, 2017).

The Denver Society of the Archaeological Institute of America