WATERMARKS – Interdisciplinary Workshop on Drought and Adaptation in the Mediterranean during the Little Ice Age (1300 – 1850 AD)
Understanding how societies of the past struggled to adapt to climate
variability is critically needed to advance research about climate
change adaptation today (Adamson et al. 2018). During the historical
period known as the Little Ice Age not only average temperatures
decreased but extreme weather events became more frequent (White 2014;
White 2011; Oliva et al. 2018). This period constitutes an excellent
opportunity for the joint work of researchers from the human and natural
sciences interested in adaptation. In the Mediterranean, periods of
drought marked how communities experienced the Little Ice Age. Recent
research has shown how local communities combined different strategies
to cope with drought, including infrastructural, institutional and
symbolic responses which changed throughout time (Grau-Satorras et al.
2016; Grau-Satorras et al. 2018).
At the crossroads between historical climatology and environmental
history, the aim of this workshop is to further our understanding of the
complex human impacts of climate variability in the Mediterranean
during the Little Ice Age, with special attention to adaptation to the
study of drought. Building on the studies of drought reconstruction in
Spain following rogation ceremonies (Barriendos 1997; Domínguez-Castro
et al. 2012) and attending to the current state of the art on the study
of past droughts with documentary data (Brázdil et al. 2018), the
ambition of this workshop is to foster interdisciplinary communication.
Transdisciplinary contributions that combine the work of historians,
natural scientists and archaeologists (Izdebski et al. 2016) or
researchers from other disciplines will be especially welcomed. The
workshop will include three keynotes: Andrea Kiss (Vienna University of
Technology), Mariano Barriendos (University of Barcelona) and Mar Grau
Satorras (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). John McNeill (Georgetown
University) will act as discussant.
Aiming at the publication of some of the contributions received, we
call for both methodologically sound and nuanced transdisciplinary
historical works from a wide range of disciplines that engage with the
following topics in the Mediterranean region:
1. Methodological approaches
towards establishing instruments for classification that bring together
historical records that can be used as proxy for climate reconstruction,
with particular attention to drought, rainfall and temperature;
2. Long-term transdisciplinary studies that integrate multi-proxy analyses of historical climate change;
3. In-depth studies of
specific severe hydro-climatic episodes during the LIA in the
Mediterranean, particularly drought and floods, with attention to the
responses developed by local societies to cope with the consequences of
such events and prevent future episodes;
4. Human dimensions of historical climate change during the Little Ice Age;
5. Community and institutional adaptation to drought, strategies to cope with disturbances and climate variability;
6. Watering the city: engineering, building and maintaining urban water supply infrastructure in the face of ice and drought;
7. Irrigation schemes: infrastructural projects for agricultural irrigation in the Mediterranean;
8. War and water: in-depth analyses of military campaigns conditioned by drought.
Interested participants should send their abstracts
(300 words) and a short biography (100 words) with contact details to
the workshop organiser Dr. Santiago Gorostiza (Santiago.Gorostiza@uab.cat)
by 14 June, 2019. Authors will be notified of acceptance by 1 July
2019. We ask participants to circulate a complete draft of their paper
one month before workshop.
The organisation of this workshop has received financial support from
the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, through
the “María de Maeztu” program for Units of Excellence (MDM-2015-0552).
April 2019: Call for papers published
14 June 2019: Deadline for contributions abstracts (abstracts 300 words plus a short biography 100 words)
1 July 2019: Communication of acceptance of contributions
1 October 2019: Deadline for submitting full papers
Thursday 24 and Friday 25 October 2019: Workshop at ICTA-UAB.
Adamson, G.C.D., Hannaford, M.J. & Rohland, E.J., 2018.
Re-thinking the present: The role of a historical focus in climate
change adaptation research. Global Environmental Change, 48(August
Barriendos, M., 1997. Climatic variations in the Iberian Peninsula
during the late Maunder minimum (AD 1675-1715): An analysis of data from
rogation ceremonies. Holocene, 7(1), pp.105–111.
Brázdil, R. et al., 2018. Documentary data and the study of the past
droughts: an overview of the state of the art worldwide. Climate of the
Past Discussions, (2002), pp.1–67.
Domínguez-Castro, F. et al., 2012. Assessing extreme droughts in
Spain during 1750-1850 from rogation ceremonies. Climate of the Past,
Grau-Satorras, M. et al., 2016. Long-term community responses to
droughts in the early modern period: the case study of Terrassa, Spain.
Ecology and Society, 21(2). Available at:
Grau-Satorras, M. et al., 2018. Prudent peasantries: Multilevel
adaptation to drought in early modern Spain (1600-1715). Environment and
History. Available at:
Izdebski, A. et al., 2016. Realising consilience : How better
communication between archaeologists , historians and natural scientists
can transform the study of past climate change in the Mediterranean.
Quaternary Science Reviews, 136, pp.5–22.
Oliva, M. et al., 2018. The Little Ice Age in Iberian mountains. Earth-Science Reviews, 177(October 2017), pp.175–208.
White, S., 2011. The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, Cambridge University Press.
White, S., 2014. The Real Little Ice Age. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLIV(3), pp.327–352.