Comparative Water Technologies and Management: Pathways to Social Complexity and Environmental Change

Comparative Water Technologies and Management conference

UCL Institute of Archaeology Annual Conference  | 15 & 16 April 2016

The Institute of Archaeology Annual Conference 2016 on 'Comparative Water Technologies and Management: Pathways to Social Complexity and Environmental Change' will take place at UCL on 15 & 16 April.

Comparative Water Technologies and Management conference

Organisers: Yijie Zhuang and Mark Altaweel

Sponsors: UCL Institute of Archaeology, UCL Institute of Advanced Studies

Venue: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, Wilkins Building

Conference Theme

Water remains a vital issue in human society. The goal of this conference is to examine, across a variety of case studies, where new developments in social complexity can be traced in parallel or in near time with technical developments in water technologies.

How did water technologies change or were changed by societies?

Did water technologies or developed social structures based on these technologies lead to new forms of social complexity or political organization such as government institutions or even catalyzed the formation of state societies?

In cases where these technologies or water management schemes proved to lead to environmental vulnerability, what were the circumstances of this and how did societies evolve after water systems and management degraded?

By bringing together scholars from different disciplines, this conference will explore how the use of water, managing skills, and strategies for long-term sustainability in the past and present can contribute to understanding water problems across time and what that teaches us about today’s water issues. 

Comparative Water Technologies and Management conference


  • Seasonality and Water Management
  • Modelling Long-Term Change
  • Myths and Reality of Sustainability
  • Water Management and Community

The long-term interactions between landscape, environment and climate have always been the central concern of staff at the Institute of Archaeology whose work in different parts of the world have demonstrated diversified pathways to social complexity.

Comparative Water Technologies and Management conference

This proposed conference will provide an effective dialogue between Institute of Archaeology colleagues and experts from other institutions who work on both modern and ancient water technologies. This conference will thus further consolidate the Institite's research profile on ‘Landscape, Environment and Climate’ and foster potential collaborations and comparative studies.

The conference is intended to lead to an edited volume that is relevant to understanding how water has shaped our world in the past and its importance to understanding the present.

Programme & Paper Abstracts


This event is free but registration is required in advance. Please register via Eventbrite here»

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