Archaeological Dialogues


Climate change, extreme weather events and issues of human perception

Martin Bell c1

The central proposition of Toby Pillatt is that in developing an understanding of past human affairs weather is as important as, or more so than, climate. Climate may be simply defined as average weather, whilst weather is the day-to-day occurrence of atmospheric phenomena which impact in perceptible ways on people's lives. The general proposition is sound enough; the challenges come in implementing these ideas in ways which advance our understanding of past people–environment relationships.

Martin Bell is Professor of Archaeological Science and current Head of the Archaeology Department at the University of Reading, UK. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Society of Antiquaries of London. He teaches geoarchaeology and coastal and maritime archaeology and has particular interests in experimental archaeology and the relationship between archaeology and nature conservation and sustainability. Over the last 20 years he has excavated many intertidal prehistoric sites in the Severn Estuary in south Wales. He is author of Late Quaternary environmental change (2005, with M.J.C. Walker), Prehistoric coastal communities. The Mesolithic in western Britain (2007), Prehistoric intertidal archaeology (2000, with A. Caseldine and H. Neumann), The Experimental Earthwork Project (1996, with P. Fowler and S. Hillson), Past and present soil erosion (1992, with J. Boardman) and four earlier archaeological monographs.