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Liveable Planet lunch meeting - Archaeo-inspired solutions: Mobilizing the past to shape a better Anthropocene

Tuesday 22 June 2021
Liveable communities – Liveable Planet
Virtual lunch meeting - MS Teams

Archaeo-inspired solutions: mobilizing the past to shape a better Anthropocene

In what way can archaeology help the transition to a habitable planet with ecological sustainability? I have intended my presentation as a showcase, exploring three routes to answer this question. These are inform, learn, and shape. Each of these, I briefly discuss and exemplify with a specific case from my own work.

Inform. An archaeological perspective is important as it highlights our relationship with materials and it is fundamentally a long-term perspective. An example of how this perspective can inform are the articles I have written for de Correspondent on the fundamental materials that shape our societies.

Learn. The notion that we can learn from the past sounds promising, but in practice we rarely do. The plethora of examples where mismanagement of the environment led to societal collapse does not seem to make enough of an impression on us to change our ways. It appears that this type of learning is too abstract. Thus, I argue for a more direct learning from the past. Borrowing from and innovating on sustainable past practices, often based on traditional (ecological) knowledge that was built over hundreds of years of experience. An example of this are the mudbricks that architects are currently rediscovering as a building material.

Shape. The NWA circular route recognises that “implementing a sustainable circular economy requires the public and consumers to recognise and acknowledge its core values, accept the changes accelerated by circularity, and support the circular economy by their behaviour.” I argue that the past is a powerful tool to achieve this, as it helps us to anchor innovations. Here, the sustainable restauration of a historical sailing ship, with the help of IE students, will act as an example.



Short introduction | all webcams on 


Maikel Kuijpers presents about archaeology and the Liveable Planet project. Followed by the opportunity to discuss the topic and ask questions.

Liveable communities – Liveable Planet

The Liveable Planet programme is one of the eight interdisciplinary programmes that were launched at Leiden University in 2020

Leiden’s  Liveable Planet programme aims to combine scientific, policy, socio-cultural and historical/archaeological research at Leiden University into coherent research with which we can tackle the major challenges of a transition to a habitable planet with ecological sustainability. The program will  serve as a hub for the wide range of relevant research carried out within Leiden University and welcomes interaction with colleagues interested in contributing to the initiative within as well as outside of Leiden University.

Hugo Grotius Project

Liveable communities – Liveable Planet

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