A Transformative Force: The Environmental Impact of the Baltic Crusades

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The crusaders who launched a bloody holy war against the pagan societies of the Eastern Baltic left a profound legacy – the construction of spectacular castles that still exist today as ruins or preserved as historical monuments, and the development of towns that reorganized the region into a uniquely European society and brought it under Christendom.  But the effect that these crusading armies had on the landscape goes even further than architectural changes.  Dr. Aleks Pluskowski and Dr. Alex Brown are members of a project team using zooarchaeological, palaeobotanical, geoarchaeological and historical data to study the environmental impacts of the Baltic Crusades and the role they played in this transformative time in history.  What effect would these have had on the pre-Christian tribes whose belief systems were tied closely into the natural landscape?  Tune in tonight, and find out how the ecological transformations that took place as a result of the Crusades were closely tied with the cultural changes that accompanied them.

Dr Aleks Pluskowski teaches the archaeology of later medieval Europe and crusading at the University of Reading. His interests include exploring ecological diversity across medieval Europe,Aleks (1) focused on zooarchaeology and inter-disciplinary perspectives of human-animal relations. He is the author of Wolves and the Wilderness in the Middle Ages (Boydell, 2006), which compares human responses to wolves and their shared environments in medieval Britain and Scandinavia. He has published several articles on responses to the wolf in the Middle Ages, as well as on the treatment of exotic animals, hunting space and broader understandings of predation in medieval society. He is currently preparing two volumes: an ecological survey of medieval Europe, and a new cultural history of the European wolf. Aleks is regularly involved in organising and moderating sessions at international archaeology and medievalist conferences.

Dr. Alex Brown is currently employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Ecology of Crusading Project (2010-2014), funded by the European ResearchAlexander-Brown_1539-w Council.  His research interests centre on the application of palaeoecology as a tool for investigating past human-environment interactions over the course of the Holocene. Alex has over ten years’ experience working in intertidal and wetland landscapes, completing his PhD (2005) on the evidence for human impact on the prehistoric landscapes of the Severn Estuary (UK), linked to the NERC funded Mesolithic to Neolithic Coastal Environmental Change Project.  Alex is also co-director (with Martin Bell) of the Peterstone Palaeochannels Project, which has been investigating the traces of Bronze Age activity within the Welsh Severn Estuary.  Alex has a particular research interest in the ecology of frontier landscapes and the ecological responses to human agency and cultural change, currently focused on Medieval Europe. Alex is also developing research on the landscape impact of the Mongol invasions of central Europe.


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