The possible consequences of natural and anthropologically induced environmental change are a constant topic of concern in our modern dialogue.
As the present may provide a key to understanding the past, understanding the past may provide the key to future predictions. Why did some civilizations collapse and some endure? How were past societies impacted by natural events such as droughts, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis or earthquakes, and over what time-frame?
The CMATE mission is to combine the unique skills and research tools of our multidisciplinary scientists to investigate these questions in the context of the cradle of civilization - the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Underlying all that we hope to achieve is chronology. Despite extraordinary advances in recent decades, studies of Mediterranean prehistory and history remain hampered by an insufficient chronological framework. What we require are precise chronologies (that can be related to the human time frame) coupled with high resolution paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Without this, many critical research questions of the ancient Mediterranean world remain unresolved. How can we provide an absolute timeframe for ancient Egyptian history?; what was the exact date and impact of the Bronze Age eruption of Thera?; did the drought of the Early Bronze Age bring collapse?; what role did climate play in the hominid migrations into Europe, or the Neolithic emergence and expansion, or the collapse of the palace systems in the Late Bronze Age? What environmental factors contributed to the rise of the Greek polis and the foundation and fall of the Roman empire?
CMATE recognizes that a comprehensive understanding of such past societal change is impossible without simultaneous, combined assessments of human and environmental chronologies and dynamics.