Climate, History, and Nomadic Empires: Case Studies and Questions of Method
November 19, 2020 Thursday, November 19, 2020 4:00-5:30pm Virtual
Join MIT Anthropology for a virtual lecture and discussion
Heather Paxson: Everybody...
Thank you all for joining us
today. I'm Heather Paxson,
Program Head of MIT Anthropology and I'd
like to thank, to begin, MIT's History section,
and the Department of Earth,
Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
for co-sponsoring this special event.
In a moment, I'll turn
things over to Tristan Brown,
Assistant Professor in History at
MIT, to introduce our main speaker:
Dr. Nicola Di Cosmo who's joining
us today from Princeton University.
Following Professor Di Cosmo's lecture, we will
hear discussant comments from two MIT colleagues.
David McGee, a paleoclimatologist and Associate
Professor in the Department of Earth,
Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences,
and Manduai Buyandelger,
a distinguished scholar of Mongolian studies
and Associate Professor of Anthropology.
Following their remarks, Professor Di Cosmo
will offer brief comments and response,
and then we will open the floor to your
questions and a moderated discussion.
The chat feature is now open
for commenting throughout,
but to pose a direct question
to one of our speakers, which
we will collect together at the end, not as we go.
But go ahead and put them in the
questions as they occur to you.
We ask that you please type
it into the Q&A box. Right?
So, the chat for sort of informal comments,
you know, as we go, and actual, direct questions
to our speakers, please use the Q&A box.
So with that, it's my pleasure now to
introduce, and to welcome, Tristan Brown,
a social and cultural historian
of late imperial and modern China,
and a new faculty colleague of ours in
History. So thank you Tristan, and welcome.
Tristan Brown : Thank you, Heather.
Good afternoon and thank you all for coming
on behalf of MIT Anthropology, History and
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences,
it is my great pleasure to introduce
today's speaker, Professor Nicola Di Cosmo.
Professor Di Cosmo is the
Luce Foundation Professor
in East Asian Studies at the Institute of
Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey.
He's one of the leading
specialists of Inner Asian history
in the history of Chinese
frontiers in the world today.
Professor Di Cosmo has published
so much on so many different topics
it's almost impossible for me to do justice to
his work in just a few words, but I will try.
His research, which has spanned from
prehistory to the modern period,
centers the perspectives and voices of Inner Asian
peoples ... who have been all too often
left out of traditional historiography.
His book, "Ancient China and Its Enemies: The
Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History,"
among many things, provided an
interesting revisionist perspective
on one of the most famous subjects of
all in Chinese history, The Great Wall.
People have often thought of the
Great Wall as a defensive wall
keeping people out of the
lands we know today as China.
But Professor Di Cosmo showed how the long
walls constructed by the early Chinese
states primarily sought to control nomadic
movement and even, sometimes, claim territory.
Professor Di Cosmo has also written widely on the last Chinese dynasty: The Qing.
The Qing dynasty was established
during the 17th century,
when a group of people from beyond the
Great Wall, the Manchus, conquered China.
Tristan Brown : His books on this subject include
"Manchu-Mongol Relations on
the Eve of the Qing Conquest,"
and "The Diary of a Manchu Soldier
in Seventeenth Century China".
For their significance, I'll just say
that... the Manchu language was once
seen as relatively unimportant for
understanding the history of China.
But today, Manchu language sources are now used
by many scholars in the field in great
part due to Professor Di Cosmo's influence
Professor Di Cosmo helped shape the research agenda of an entire generation of scholars
- and was highly influential to many - including my own thinking of Qing in Chinese history.
Professor Di Cosmo's extension of his
great skill and employing a wide range
of sources for tackling difficult historical
questions has now extended to climate science.
Here, he's been making substantial contributions to the field of environmental history.
He's the co-author of a recent celebrated paper in
Nature Geoscience on the Little
Ice Age of Late Antiquity.
In the spirit of MIT's commitment to
tackling climate change issues through
we are thrilled to have Professor
Di Cosmo with us today for his talk:
"Climate, History, and Nomadic Empires: Case Studies and Questions of Method " with that,
let's welcome :Professor Nicola Di Cosmo.
Nicola Di Cosmo: Thank you very, very much, Professor Brown, for this,
I think really embarrassing,
overly generous introduction.
And I'd like also to thank the History, Anthropology,
and also the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science Departments for this incredibly kind
invitation, in particular, Professor Manduhai Buyandelger
and Professor Heather Paxton.
And of course, I like to thank also
Professor David McGee for participation,
his participation in this in this talk.
Now - I'm going to share the
screen now - so that you can see my
PowerPoint presentation and speak
from a corner of your screen.
So, my interest, as Professor
Brown just so kindly mentioned,
is in the history of nomads, pastoral nomads,
and in the rise of nomadic empires, both in
East Asia, and more broadly, in world history.
Um, recently, by recently. I
mean, really, eight years ago,
I started to get more interested in climatic
issues and in the climate history of
what we call inner Asia. That is the
central landmass of the Eurasian continent.
Partly, you know, the... to understand
better certain historical dynamics within
the history of nomadic empires
and just to illustrate what I'm talking about when I speak of nomadic empires. Let me just show how
they extended their influence across a very large
landmass in Eurasia and also a very long
temporal chronological span. And, we can start from the Scythians in the fifth century BCE
and other nomads dominating the
space, the steppes, let's say between
China and Siberia, Mongolia, Central
Asia, all the way to Eastern Europe,
then we get to the Xiongnu Empire
in establishing northern China and
extending again to Mongolia and into Central Asia from the second, third actually century BCE,
all the way to the First and Second Century, CE, so another 400 years of history.
Very important was the ancient Türk
Empire established in the sixth century.
And again, we have one and nomadic power unifying the whole central Eurasian landmass.
Again from China, all the way
to the south Russian steppes.
And then there were many other
empires, perhaps not quite as
as as expansive until we get of,
course, the Mongol explosion.
The Mongol Empire, that is, you can see
here at the time of this maximum expansion
from the Chinese and Mongolian Empires in the east, all the way to Central Asia, Middle East,
Iran, Iraq, and then, of course, Russia,
the so called Golden Horn empire.
So these are very important historical
protagonists, let's say, of world history.
And, of course, that great impact
in Chinese history in particular.
What - what is a problem in the study of
these empires is the scarcity of sources.
So, we use a lot of different sources
from archaeological sources, to
documents, many different languages.
And, of course, also a lot of contemporary
ethnography, anthropological theory,
and climate data.
Actually, they can tell us quite a lot
about their history because, in part because
the the pastoral economy and the ecology of the
steppe region is so sensitive, so delicate...
umm.. so vulnerable, also to southern
climatic variability climate shocks and,
just to illustrate what I mean, I want to show you something that happened very recently.
Two disasters that happened in
Mongolia and in Inner Mongolia.
One is a classic Dzud, that is a winter disaster,
a catastrophic collapse of the
livestock, increasing mortality, of course,
of cows, horses, and sheep and due to very low temperatures, freezing of groundwater
and/or very heavy snow falls
that prevent the animals from
from getting this nutrition from
the grasses provided by the steppes
Or, on the other hand, very severe drought,
such as that that hit Inner Mongolia, in 2011.
So these are frequent and recurrent disasters in
In the... again, in the ecology
of pastoral nomads that,
where today, may lead to, just
like in the past, to massive losses
in the livestock and massive mortality
and therefore..and therefore, famine
and therefor social and economic crisis.
The State of Mongolia,
about 20 years ago, appealed to the
international community for assistance
and that kind of situation immediately
triggers a number of questions in historians:
what happened in the past
when of course we don't have
United Nations, or other forms
of international cooperation?
when such a disaster occurs
or, on the other hand, what may
be the effect of hyper-activity on the grassland?
Where we have an excess, let's say, all
of cattle and horses sheep and so on.
So, these are the pastoral production.
In other words, is very sensitive..
very sensitive to climate variation and
we can have either a collapse of the economy, or a large increase of the productivity
within a very short time span.
So let me just jump into some of some of the research that I've done together with, um,
a number of other people who are actually
much more important than I am in this.
And the first article that we published was
the result of a project carried out with the
Paleoclimatologists who had done quite
a lot of research in in Mongolia.
Their aim was really to reconstruct,
based on the tree ring research,
the climate history of Mongolia.
And what they found, and then that's
when I was called to join this project.
What they found was a period in which there was a consistent... consistently, considerable
Above average precipitation in Mongolia.
The area of investigation was
Orkhon Valley in central Mongolia.
And here you can see this
period from 10...1210 to 1227
That is 17 years, which is a fairly long time,
they call it a pluvial - now, I'm not sure
whether this is an ah... accepted term.
But anyway, and long term in which
precipitation was consistently above average.
And... that particular that particular
consideration led us to look into the
history of the Mongol Empire, at this time.
And we found a correlation between that
period of above average precipitation and the
maximum - let's say, energy - of the
Chinggis Khan expansion of the Mongol Empire
into neighboring areas, in
particular, eastern China,
northern China all the way
into Central Asia and Russia.
So this was a period of about 20 years from
of very intense military activity and
intense military activity that could
not be really explained in any in any
way. So we came up with a hypothesis.
The so-called Grassland
High-Productivity Hypothesis, in which we
connected the climate data in this...
in this, in this... political and
military expansion of the Mongols and...
trying to assess the sort of effects,
again, on the political and military level of
the climate turn that that.. that probably caused
the steppe, the grassland,
to become more productive.
Thanks to warmer and wetter conditions. So what we have here is a list of for possible
changes that connect. Let's say this
climate and historical data or events.
One is, of course, the rapid economic recovery of the Mongols after a very long period
in which Mongolia had been
devastated by civil wars.
But more - even more important
than that, was the fact that
this type of economy, this type of of climate.
allowed a lower mortality
of the animals and therefore
a constant supply of horses to
be used for military purposes.
So the high carrying capacity of
the of the land really supported,
not just not just the livelihood of the people,
but also the possibility of maintaining a
centralized government and a centralized army.
Moreover, it is possible - and this is confirmed by some preliminary archaeological excavation -
that agricultural production
also expanded at the same time.
So, we came up with a new hypothesis, and that is that these intense military activity and all the
campaigns carried out by Chinggis Khan
against the Jin, the Xi Xia, and all the other
regions around Mongolia, was
really possible thanks to an
excess of grassland productions, whereas
a previous theory had maintained that
the Mongols were pushed out of Mongolia
because of worsening climate condition.
In fact, because of a drought. So we
actually turned around for that kind of
the kind of thinking and... and assumed, based on the climate data, something quite different.
Another interesting, interesting.
study (interesting to me) but
that, that address the different, different cause
and different problem. And
that is the vulnerability of
nomadic empires to sudden climate shocks. By sudden climate shock, I mean, something like
that Dzud event that we've seen just before
in.. in Mongolia and that is: what
happens to a to an empire, when we
when there is a collapse, essentially, of the of the pastoral economy that in, theory supports it?
now, the case of the Eastern Türk
Empire seems to present a very,
very clear case in which we could connect climate.
climate shock with a ... a political collapse.
In 630, the Eastern Türk Empire, which,
which um... occupied Mongolia and parts
of Inner Mongolia today - suddenly disappeared - was attacked by the Chinese and destroyed.
Now, we - we looked at the tree ring
chronologies again and also
at greenland ice cores that
connected this period -
between 627 and 630 to a volcanic
explosion that again, modified, or forced,
climate into lower... into lower temperatures.
These lower temperatures occurred also within the period of generally depressed temperature
that we have eferred to in a different paper
that was kindly mentioned by Professor Brown
as the Late Antique Little Ice Age.
Um... So, what the climate data actually showed,
was that probably, the disasters that hit
the Eastern Türk Empire - documented in
the Chinese sources - in the winter of 628 and 629
were probably due to this lowering
of cooling of the temperature because
of the effects of the climate.
The volcanic eruption, and the
consequent climate forcing, which
caused high mortality among the animals
and widespread famine within the empire.
So - those disasterous climate conditions - what happened was - they ignited an economic crisis.
Now, the economic crisis was then,
could then, be attributed - to the high dependency of the Eastern Türk Empire on pastoral economy.
This is actually very important
data. The important fact.
Because we, we are not clear actually about the,
let's say, economic and financial
foundations of some of these empires,
some of them rely on taxation
and tribute to and on other
let's say, revenue streams. But the
Eastern Türk Empire seem to be especially
reliant on pastoral production
and that's why, once they were
hit very, very severely by this, the climate
disasters, they could not recover very quickly.
So, what did they do? They tried to increase that taxation on subject peoples but
that caused alienation, that caused hostility,
of subordinate leaders, and.. and then, again, the whole political establishment started to...
lose... to weaken, let's say, and lose
its grip on the... subordinate tribes
and.. and therefore, causing some
internal rivalries, infighting, and so on.
Meanwhile, the Chinese army moved to
the border and just waited - waited
for the Türk Empire - for the Türk
Kahgan, the head of the empire,
to become, essentially, powerless.
They moved in, and they wiped
out, essentially, the Türk Empire.
So - this was a very interesting case to...
analyze what.. what the vulnerabilities
of one of these nomadic empires could be.
And in this case, it was the main
vulnerability was identified in the
almost exclusive dependency of... the
political leadership on the pastoral economy.
Once that was done,
then the whole establishment, the whole
political establishment, started to crumble.
Also, it's important to notice
that this climatic induced
economic stress does not cause, necessarily,
the nomads to either invade China
or to migrate to some other place,
as it is often assumed, in
fact, too often in, in the...
let's say, historical climatology of China.
There are very... maybe, simplistic assumptions
that the nomads always attack
when there is a crisis.
In fact, they don't. They simply
weaken, sometimes, to the point
that they are then attacked and wiped
out by some... some other enemy.
In this case, China.
Um, but what happens - and this
is another case that illustrates
a different type of climatic
change, a climatic challenge -
what happens when, instead of a sudden shock,
we have em... a worsening of the climatic
conditions over a long period of time?
And the question here is: how
can the nomads and nomadic empire
adapt to changing the climatic conditions and therefore to changing environmental conditions?
And, in order to address this problem,
we look at the Uyghur Empire, which is
basically successor of the Türk Empire...
um, same pretty much the same region, Mongolia, Northern... Northern China and Inner Mongolia.
The Uyghur Empire is very different from
other empires in the sense that it is,
it has special characteristics that
I will illustrate very soon. Anyway -
we started from the climate... from
the climate analysis, which showed:
this very long - 60 year long -
drought in Central Mongolia.
Probably, there was a drought
actually beyond Central Mongolia,
also in Northern China and so on.
But, these two tree ring
chronologies that we used, were...
referred specifically to the Orkhan Valley,
again, which was also the center of the
Uyghur Empire and to North Central Mongolia.
And here you can see, in this other graph, how the
situation worsened in the
late eighth and ninth century.
Green means wet, brown is dry, and,
as you can see, from 783 to... 884,
the situation became drier
and and more difficult to...
more arid. So, there's an
increasing aridity and...
due to a severe drought.
So - can we attribute - some of the
special characteristics of this empire,
which is quite different,
as I said before, from other nomadic empires,
to an attempt to overcome or offset
the negative, the ill effects,
of the drought and we identify a number of
of this empire that could possibly be
related to this attempt to move away from,
perhaps, a critical situation in pastoral
production and diversify the economy.
So for instance, there was a
very heavy reliance on trade.
Especially - horse for silk trade.
They sold horses to China, these horses
were paid in silk and then the silk,
which was also a form of currency,
was traded along the Silk Road in
long distance exchange networks.
There was also a reduction of conflicts and wars,
so probably they did not have actually,
unlike the Mongols that we discussed before,
they did not have the resources to
maintain an army over a long period of time
or, in any case, to... finance conflicts and wars.
There was also agriculture,
probably, agriculture developed,
moving away from rain fed agriculture
to irrigated... agriculture, this again,
is showed by preliminary archaeological
research where we don't have a clear picture
of how extensive agricultural production,
in particular... irrigated agricultural
production, was in the Uyghur Empire.
And finally, when the Uyghurs
were attacked by a northern
people, called the Kirghis,
they collapse, very quickly, so probably,
possibly, the drought is also related to a
economic and military weakening, of the empire.
So this is, this is just another example of how
a different type of climate... um, climate
story, let's say, of climate change
may have affected a different... may
have affected these pastoral nomads.
Until now, we have looked really at nomads in Mongolia, in their habitat, in their ecology,
and how they may have suffered, or... or
benefited, or may have adapted, to
changing climatic... climatic conditions.
But - what happened when they leave
their their.... their natural habitat?
When they leave the steppes of
Mongolia and conquer other regions?
Regions that are not necessarily
suitable for their... for the... economy,
but also for their way of
warfare, because, as we know,
nomads... use large, large numbers of
horses, and therefore, had some particular
uhh... requirements in... in their expansions.
And, this is an article that is being -
that I liked very much, actually - but...
it's still being... being discussed quite
a lot in the... in the, in the literature.
And it is an answer to a very,
very old question, and that is:
why did the Mongols withdraw suddenly from Eastern Europe after having invaded it in 1241?
The story is quite simple.
And... and yet it's not - did not - have an
answer for... for many... for many years.
We, I think - we have provided a kind of answer, but it's still, it's still certainly hypothetical.
So the story is that the Mongols invaded
Eastern Hungary in the spring of 1241
from, you know, crossing into ...
into the great Hungarian planes - from Russia,
across the Carpathians - some of
them went all the way to Poland.
And, in... and in this period: over the
months of Spring, Summer and Fall of 1241
they were very, very successful. All of
these dots here are fortresses of towns or
battles that they won.
And therefore, there seem to be, really
no-one able to resist their advance into...
into Hungary also beyond. Um... but they did stop in center on the Danube and only in the
Winter between 41 and 42 they decided to invade
Western Hungary here.
Um... and that was possible
because the Danube had frozen.
A frozen Danube allowed the
Mongols to cross over to just
ride over the Danube and invade in January 1242 the east, uh... western part of Hungary.
However, the situation became very
different from the previous year.
They make them with one failure after
another. This blue dots are actually all
again: cities, towns, or battles that that
the Mongols lost to the Hungarians, the
success rate, let's say, of the Mongols had
decreased dramatically. Um, whereas the resistance
rate of the Hungarian said increased dramatically with respect to only a few months before.
So, this is... this was quite... quite an unusual...
unusual fact from an historical
point of view. So we looked at the
changes in in the climate
condition from one year to the...
to the other. So it's really
quite, quite precise - very
both spatially explicit type of analysis
climate analysis. And if you look, oops, sorry.
Here is a series of graphs that refer to
precipitation. The precipitation...
1242 - which is here - seems to be
higher was higher than in 1241- again,
green means wetter, brown is drier.
So 1241 when the Mongols invaded
Hungary was seemed to be a much drier period than 1242 and also if we look at the temperature chart
the - 1242 was colder.
This pink reddish is warm the bluish is is cold... was
colder than... So in other words, we move from a
dry, warm climate regime to a wet. Wet and cold, which is,
you know, which was beneficial
in the, in the beginning
because the Mongols could cross over
the Danube and invade Western Hungary,
but what happened was actually something that was not so beneficial to them.
So we can go through these
different phases of the... of
the invasion. Now - what happened with
an extraordinarily cold and wet winter
Is that a lot of water - ground water
- froze on the ...on the ground and
when it thawed in the spring,
it caused swampy conditions;
it pooled on the ground, frozen.
And then when, when it melted...
The whole Western Hungary was essentially it - as we, as we believe, was essentially a swamp
it was marshy conditions the horses had no hope
of really moving across this
type of terrain very easily.
So, it caused an unexpected challenge
from the point of view, not just of the
environment, but also of
the, and especially of the,
type of military operations to
which the Mongols were... were used.
And how do we know that? Well, we, we know that because we look at the quality of the
hydrogeology of Hungary
and then we know that it is.
This is actually a relatively frequent phenomenon.
It was only in the 18th century and
the 19th century, with the Hapsburgs.
That the floodplains of the
Desa and the Danube River were
well drained with the building of several canals.
Also, farmers moved into a higher
areas that time and there was a famine.
So, lack of food and especially very
difficult terrain, probably in our hypothesis,
convinced the Mongols that they
had to withdraw from Hungary,
they will not survive in that particular
situation and they moved back to southern Russia.
along the southern Carpathians , which is at a higher elevation, than the route they took
to come into Hungary in the first place.
So this was... this was
really a completely different
theory, with respect to previous notions of why, or ideas as to why, the Mongols return to...
to Russia and withdrew. So,
this is still a hypothesis.
We may have to do some more research.
But generally speaking, I think, is
something that adds to our knowledge, both of
the general history of the
Mongol conquest, but also
to the history of Hungary
and, in particular, to...
to the type of short term variations
within a - in a very particular type of
situation such as military invasion .
And finally, my... my last case is really
is something that has not been published yet
this is a true work in progress.
And again, refers to the Mongols
outside their natural habitat.
Again, another... another example of how
the Mongols had to negotiate different
environmental conditions as they moved
into different environmental zones.
In 1258 as... as you... as you know, the
Mongols under Hülegü conquered Baghdad.
This was part of a general campaign
of invasion of the Middle East.
They moved into Iran before and in 1260 they moved into Syria, which was conquered very quickly,
but - on the third of September of 1260- they were defeated. They were defeated by the Mamluks
at the Battle of `Ayn Jãlūt. This was the
first serious battle - a field battle -
that the Mongols lost.
And the loss led to also the loss of Syria
that was never recovered by the Mongols and
to the end of their dreams to the... to
conquer also not just Syria but also Egypt.
So it was a very serious
turn in the Mongol conquest
and in further general history,
the Middle East, actually.
Why did that happen? Now,
we tried to - we are trying actually
- because this is not finished yet -
to connect the.. that invasion, that
period to something that was happening
on the other side of the world. A nd that is one - the greatest - eruption in a millennium. The
Samalas eruption in - that has
been recently dated to 1257 -
in Indonesia. Now, that eruption - with
the extraordinary emission of areosols
into the stratosphere and so on, had certain - a certain impact on the climate of the planet.
And generally speaking,
this type of climate forcing
causes cooling condition, cooler conditions.
So, lower temperatures, possibly
more abundant precipitation
We.. if we... assume that something similar to that also occurred in the Iraq-Syria
region which is semi arid and has a fairly short
growing season. A lengthening the growing season
and having more, more rain might
lead to reduction in aridity.
So what we're thinking is that perhaps
the northern Syrian steppes were able to,
were able to increase their
productivity therefore allowing more
Mongols -soldiers, horses.
etc... To get into Syria.
So, Hülegü, at the head of a massive army,
was able to get into Syria
and conquer it very quickly.
Because more horses could
be brought into this region,
thanks to a special type of short term climate.
Climate change, let's say.
However, all of these horses quickly exhausted the resources, you know, overgrazing and so on.
quickly exhausted their resources
and... and therefore the Mongols could
not live in Syria in number of soldiers,
in number of troops sufficient to
defend it from the Mamluk attack.
This was actually the only actual
historical document that we have
Which is a letter written by Hülegü, the Mongol Khan, to the King of France, Louis the Ninth
specifically refers to the depletion of the pasture land
as the reason why they had to leave Syria.
So we are still working on this, on this
concept but i think i think it's promising
and it's, in any case, a very interesting way of looking at
the limitations of these pastoral nomads in
different ecological and environmental zones.
So I think my 30 minutes were up some time ago and not sure
But I will, I will close my talk with some final
thoughts and then we can have
some comments and discussion...
Very simply, I think what I've tried to do
is really to illustrate a way in which we can
join climate and historical...
thinking and... and come up with
the new and quite interesting
answers, but especially questions when it
comes to the history of nomadic empires.
So - we have looked at climate
shocks, drought, long term challenges
and identification of factors
affecting the Mongol Empire.
These are all new ways to answer some old questions, but also as I just said - also
They have the power to generate new
questions that we would not have imagined.
Without the sort of climate analysis that
tree rings and ice cores and other forms of
climate data allow us to have.
We also, I also think - and this is
very important to keep in mind - that
there is very close connections when we
study climate between past and present.
The history of nomadic empires
has always been informed by
anthropological and ethnographic
research and understanding better
Our modern, modern relationship between
climate change and pastoral societies and nomadic societies can also certainly help us understanding
the, the past. I mean, the historical
life of these nomadic peoples and especially in their imperial... imperial configurations.
What is difficult? What is difficult here is is
sometimes to build collaborations that really
involved not just some disciplines
like history and anthropology or
history and archaeology that - really
different research communities.
When, when we have to
start a new project with the climate
scientists, we, it's not so it's not so easy to
understand what we want to get
out of our research, respectively.
So building collaborations is
a very, very important part,
aspect of this type of work.
And I've been very lucky,
I think, to collaborate with very
good, very good climate scientists,
but also people who were interested - genuinely interested - in knowing more about the
connections between human societies and... sort of climate changes that they were...
that they were, they were studying
on right now? There are many examples
of collaborations many experiments
of collaborations between
historians and climatologists
They're very different. So we don't know exactly what what is going to happen in the future.
Some new, if you like, new, new
paradigms are being built, right now.
And this is very exciting, of course, because
we are all bringing different ideas into
how to build this type of collaborations.
Bridges, let's say. And...
That is why it is so, it is so exciting, but at
the same time, it can be it can be confusing.
It can appear to be confusing.
We need to, perhaps,
increase our theoretical sophistication.
Sometimes these experiments are based
on very pragmatic empirical basis.
It is certainly a long way to go,
but it's an exciting way (laughs).
Exciting work, and
I hope to continue to do this type of work
because it's really essential, I think, to -
not just as I said before - answering old.
questions but uncovering new, new meanings and new
truths, If you like, about the existence
and historical role of nomadic empires,
as well as other types of society.
So - thank you very much.
I have spoken for a long time, but maybe
longer than.. I should... let me mute.
David McGee: Thank you so much, Dr. Di Cosmo.
It's really a privilege to hear this.
I'm just going to offer a few thoughts
and then hand it over to Manduhai,
and then we'll open it up, as I
understand it, for a response from you.
And then, and then - open
up to questions and answers.
As Heather mentioned in the beginning, my name is David McGee and I'm from the Department of Earth,
Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
and my field is Paleoclimatology,
and again, I'll just offer
a couple of thoughts here.
This is a really rich area of research that with a lot of interest among Paleoclimatologists.
About these broad questions of connections between the climate history and human history and
It extends back to questions about the
role of climate in human evolution,
to questions of the role of climate
in human dispersal out of Africa...
to questions of societal
changes... in the... Common Era.
From the paleoclimate end of things. For
those of us who are building these records,
I think some of the key challenges that we face...
Are the fact, that often,
our climate records are not co-located with the societies that we're thinking about.
And so it's really trying to understand
what, what were the climatic conditions,
the weather conditions that...
that the system - that these people
were experiencing if the trees,
or ice cores, or stalagmites that we're
studying are not exactly right there.
And then of course, the problem
that the records that we're reading
are natural archives that encode information about the climate system as they're formed,
but also encode a lot of other
information it as they as they form there.
They're influenced by other
things beyond just the climate.
And so these are noisy records.
And so - really digging in to try
to understand what these climate,
the climatic conditions,
were, is a real challenge.
And that - the tree ring records that Dr. Di
Cosmo is working with are really the highest
quality in terms of dating and spatially explicit information and calibration with modern data.
Things get harder as you go
back beyond that back into the first
millennium of the Common Era or further back.
And - because there's just
far fewer trees that you can
sample. And so you need to go to
other archives like lake sediments or
stalagmites to get information that have
less - they don't often have
annually resolved information.
In the paleo climate community. One of the ways that we're starting to move forward with
this is to run models one run climate models with
known forcings like the volcanic
forcings that were mentioned
But then assimilating in the paleo
climate data that we have. So that
the models are nudge towards the
data and the models can can help
to fill in the gaps where we don't
have data and understand things where
That the data can't tell us about; about wind patterns or about seasonality, for example.
And I think the other challenge if that was
You know that Dr. Di Cosmo is addressing so well here is - from the paleoclimate end of things -
is that we as a field tend to so commonly
underestimate the complexity of societies
and you know so easily slip into
kind of a climate determinism.
And so collaborations like were described
are really - the - way forward, you know,
where you have experts who can
really read the complexity of the
paleo climate record and experts who can
read the complexity of the human record.
Working together to piece
together what were the links
between what was going on in the environment to what was going on with humans.
And... and I really liked characterizing
These collaborations as experiments because I think we're all - there's not a there's not
great models out there that that we grew
up with in our, in our, in our fields.
And so we're kind of feeling our way through them.
The last two things that I'll mention
is, first of all, I really like the the
The discussion, not just of societal
societal problems, but also societal
resilience in asking this question of when
when were the climate - Climate changes
or, you know, weather patterns - that
The human society showed surprising resilience to?
So not just the, you know, times when
the dispersed, but because of some,
you know, potentially because of some droughts,
but maybe when they weathered some
droughts and what... what led to that.
So, just broadening this to
other societies around the world.
And last thing I'll mention is just some
research at MIT, that that is going on in
our group that is kind of at this intersection between Anthropology and Paleo climatology
That tries to bring in some of these methods.
One is work that my former graduate
student, Gabriela Serrato Marks has led:
Using stalagmites in northeastern
Mexico to try to understand
the climatic context of past
societal changes Coahuiltecan
in the basin of Mexico, and
then work that we're doing with
researchers in the Anthropology Department at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Looking - kind of in the opposite
direction of human - the human role,
human impacts on the environment, rather
than environmental impacts on humans.
Specifically on Madagascar, understanding the human - what, what really was it that led to
megafaunal extinctions there? And what what
were the economic changes in human societies.
that allowed humans to persist
on the island for a long time?
And then after at least 1000 years of being there - led to widespread megafaunal extinctions. So
I'll leave it there. But I just really - this is a rich,
rich talk and I really appreciate the chance to be a part of it.
I'll hand it over to Manduhai.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Hello, Professor
Di Cosmo, thank you so, so much.
For the amazing talk
And thank you, David, for the comments.
So it's hard to... where to begin.
Because of the richness of the talk
and the scope of - the geographical scope as well - as the historical details as well as the amazing
Trans disciplinary, multi disciplinary approach.
So I guess I will just pull out a few things.
And then we can open up for the discussion.
Professor Di Cosmo demonstrates how the new paleoclimate data helps to answer
old or existing questions that have, you
know, puzzled historians for a long time.
For instance, my favorite part here was - one of my favorite, I guess, nuances - was that how,
for instance, the same climate change, let's say the the
The increase in precipitation, let...
you know... strengthen the Mongol army and help to conquer so much and yet at the same time,
the same level of precipitation
also caused the withdrawal
in a different kind of way in...
in a different place. So I'm...
I would like - I'm wondering if this
nuance this how - same data, same
event - but in a different sort of periods
for different actions in different sort of
seasons led to different outcomes.
Is this the kind of nuance that also helps to understand how to avoid environmental determinism
and generalizations? Because that
would be very helpful to... to...
To grasp... what - what would be helpful is to for us, for me, for instance, to grasp that and
in order to not be scared of the data (laughs).
Right? Not to be scared of slipping into
environmental determinism, because in some ways.
Historians and many scholars in social sciences.
Try, try not to, obviously, in order
to avoid that kind of determinism.
Also, try not to engage too
much, maybe? I'm wondering.
So what - I guess the first
thing that I would ask,
can you elaborate on methodology
and tell us how to avoid the
determinism but also to enhance our
elaboration in a way that is helpful?
So that's been like my first kind of
I guess question and request.
Ah.. Relatedly, also a little bit... so
I assume, Professor, Di Cosmo, that you
concentrated on the findings in this presentation.
But the stories of these nomadic empires
were told without the climate data before.
So it would be good to know a little bit of a...
contrast, if it's possible with,
like in one or two sentences, like
What were they, what were the,
what was, for instance, one story
where the climate wasn't
there, figured out? Because
the conventional history attributes the military activities of the expansion of the Empire,
or the fall of the Empire, for instance, the
expansions are usually attributed to a to the...
Talents of the military commanders, the
equestrian skills of the nomadic soldiers.
The semi military lifestyle and all of that.
And then the fall of empires also have
been attributed to internal discord.
Shrewd women who entered into
kinship and and created all the
Political turmoil inside and things like
that. So it would be good to kind of
Bring the bring the - what was before -
to what... what is... what we know now?
Because the story that you told us
is the most recent story so would be
Nice to know. I mean, in the interest of time. And these are just, I'm just pointing out,
but that would be great to kind of
just to show the tip of the iceberg.
Relatedly - all of this wonderful data that
you've gathered might be also helpful to think
Expand like in... into the outcomes of
the empire like the role of the Silk Road.
The role of these big cities. And I'm
wondering also about the dialectical
I guess mutual reinforcement and reinforcements - back and forth - climate and military expansion,
building of cities or, again, building roads - connecting people -
And I guess energizing - leading to more
production, and maybe more sort of war
and is there a general sort of bigger.
So I asked you to be nuanced and now I'm
asking you to be more general because
it's it's probably too much, but that.
So, but I think it's good because your
talk led me to think in both ways.
So, and I think that's the the power of your talk.
So I don't have that much time. I
will. I'd like to end by bringing
the talk that - bringing our attention to
the contemporary situation in Mongolia.
So the climate changes affecting
Mongolia, to the point that it looks like
there is already an apocalypse
of some sorts. Right. So not only
That is the animals are dying.
There are like heavy snowfall
that is making impossible to have
the pastoralist nomadic economy,
but also there is a huge migration going on
that makes people dependent on the government.
The government is obviously
Is getting more powerful because it has
to manage more - manage the population,
manage the migration... migration and
With the climate change in the city,
there has been a huge increase in
In pollution and so and I will just say that
In line with the
Climate change initiative, my colleague
Mike Short in Nuclear Engineering and I have... have started a proposal to engage students
to go to Mongolia and build heat banks -
molten salt heat banks that is that and
Also renewable and environmentally friendly.
So that's - I'm hoping that this will lead to
some something but also we would like to know
what because we think what your thoughts about
Modern Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, perhaps, and especially in regards to your knowledge,
especially, you know, considering
your knowledge, about the resilience
of the people of the nomadic people in the past.
So I will stop here and thank
you so very much for your talk.
Nicola Di Cosmo: Would you like me to
respond very quickly to these two comments?
So I'll respond very quickly so
that we had some time for for public
questions, so thank you both.
Professor McGee and Professor
for these very, very, very important notes,
comments. So first of all, to what David McGee just said.
Historians tend to, maybe climatologists tend to,
underestimate the societal complexity,
but historians also tend to underestimate
climatic complexity and especially
the degree of uncertainty in
When, when we discuss climate variability in... in the past. So this is one of the things that
I've learned is that just the same way
that we interpret historical sources.
People also interpret climate data
and .... and we can use different types, as
you, as you mentioned, historical archives.
When we look at the climate of China, actually.
tree ring chronologies are
fairly rare. It's mostly
spelothems, is mostly cave records, is
mostly sediment records still today.
Lake records and so on, which as, you of course
pointed out - give a lower definition and,
but there are - they are limitations also,
in tree ring chronologies because -
after all - what we know is - summer.
Summer conditions, rather than
winter conditions in most cases. So,
and the multi proxy, multi proxy analysis is not so easy, but, for instance, in the case of the
Article that will be published yet on
the Mongols in Syria and Iraq and Iran.
We uh also used modeling for a -
climate modeling - to understand the
Volcanic forcing and what potential
effects. Because also we have very few
regional proxy records.
So this is an increase - on the historical
side, I must say I constantly find
quite a lot of skepticism, there
was this type of research and... and
Resistance to what people call
climatic determinism or reductionism which is another way of looking at the at the problem.
I mean, reducing everything to climate
is also a problem sometimes. So
what is the, what is... in
the and, I'm coming now to
To Professor Manduhai's questions also how do we
How do we respond to that kind of determinism or reductionism? And usually I - my... my answer to
that is, well, we have to understand
the context as well as we can so it's
If you like the rich description of
the complex but but we really need.
We really need to understand what you're
talking about. Because different environments.
Of course, with climate - it's always about
precipitation and... and temperature - but
these are very, very, very different
effects considering, not just the
environment, but also the particular situation.
And it, as I mentioned sometimes and without
understanding the Russian winter we
would not understand Napoleon's defeat so
that - that is how weather and history
of climate in history, work together - by
looking at the specific context. And that's
why I'm also a little skeptical of the method.
Going back to this methodology questions
of building long chronologies and building
correlations and trying to use a statistical
methods to assess strong
or weak correlations. These
work to a certain... to a. certain degree,
but then when we look at historical
actually historical cases, they don't really
help the historians very much in the end.
So there are actually deep methodological
questions in... that we need to address.
And - together, not just historians
Often thinking that... that their
method is better, necessarily.
So in terms of what this type of
research can do for the present? I mean,
this is a again changes from area to area we
Understand, of course, as has been just said,
that that global warming
and global climate changes,
having devastating effects
on in Mongolia and many other
Sort of rangeland economies.
So how do we intervene? I think - one of the things that history can do is - exactly what we
what we said before,
that is: understand better
how societies in the past
adapted or showed resilience or...
that depends, really, on on the complexity of the
society of course. Modern societies are
much more complex than past societies
And so we have to factor in
questions of industrialization and pollution
and so forth that didn't, perhaps, exist before.
Better history means also knowing
what precedents you can use
to bring into the present and
what precedents you cannot use.
Very often in some type of
social science literature. I
see today in it when they talk about, for
instance, conflict. Conflict caused by
Environmental conditions such as
Water Resources, for instance.
Sometimes, you find a precedence mentioned in the,
in.... this literature that actually, once
you go back and study them historically
Are not necessarily as clear as that is,
they're presented so it is not necessarily
true. As I said before that - that nomads migrate because of - because of a natural disaster.
There could be other solutions to that.
There could be political solutions
that could be diversifying economic
solutions, and so forth.
And so knowing how, in the past,
nomadic peoples have responded to
these challenges, maybe, maybe helpful.
But of course we never - we should never
lose sight of the differences between
the present and the past.
What - the last thing I'm going to say in response again to the question of, you know, what is
What does climate research contribute
to a different understanding of the problems? For instance, within the Mongol Empire? Well,
Manduhai has summarized very well the kind of things that have been always emphasized, you know,
the discipline of the soliders, of the Mongol soldiers, is their efficiency. Their ruthlessness.
The shrewdness of the of the Empresses and the Mongol women and so forth, and so on.
But actually - what I think now - after having studied.
the climate... climate issues, and climate
variability issues, is that actually the
secret weapon of the Mongols - if we can call
it that - is logistics - is actually: knowledge.
They knew exactly
It seems to me how many animals could move into a certain area for how long they could stay.
And so in the deployment in the deployment of an army. These are fundamental questions.
So how many horses you can bring into
an area - and for how long - in order
to achieve certain objective, certain goals.
This is that - this is the knowledge of
the Herder, actually, the knowledge of the
person who lives and dies and in the steppes and they know exactly how many horses in
an acre of land can support.
And so, I believe, logistics and...
is actually the most important feature
in the success of the Mongol army, rather than all the other things like mobility, speed,
tactics, strategy, and so on. But -
logistics is is quite quite critical.
And what is critical within that is: the
path, the knowledge, the knowledge of these
commanders who are raised on
the grassland, and could exactly
The these issues of carrying capacity
and number of horses and so forth.
So I think this is what is different
that... and I think this is real,
real advance to what has been said.
Respectively, with respect to what has
been said before, I mean we open a new
a new chapter in a sentence in
understanding nomadic empires.
If we understand better how they understood their relationship with... with the environment.
So - I'm going to close this here, because
otherwise we don't have any time for questions.
Thank you so very much, Professor Di
Cosmo. So we have quite a few questions.
The questions are quite long. So I am going to
Go and read starting from the first very first question.
Matthew Cole - how much interest is
taken in the written sources we have on
environmental conditions like weather/ climate?
Is there a way to cross check written and climate record? Do any of the written sources we have
about Mongol defeat in Hungary describe it to the difficult environmental conditions?
So while you are answering the
question, I will try to read through
try to continue to group the
questions, just because we have
To remember they
Nicola Di Cosmo: I'm sorry, Manduhai
- could you repeat the Question?
Heather Paxson: Or actually, I'm sorry, I"m
sorry Manduhai, If we go to the open questions?
Manduhai Buyandelger: Well,
Heather Paxson: I think actually
- David kindly addressed that?
Manduhai Buyandelger: Okay.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Okay, that's great.
Heather Paxson: Okay, we can actually go to Peter's.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Right, okay: Peter
So - you focus on the effect of sudden climatic - climactic events on the pastoral side
in causing the outcome of military
conflict but success or failure in
the military campaign depends on how the
climate event affected the other side.
Can you say how the drought and rainfall affected the armies fighting the Mongols the Qing,
the Mamluks, the Tang, etc..? After all, we have more resources on the settled societies than on
the nomads. Does this mean that agrarian societies are more resilient than pastoral economies?
Nicola Di Cosmo: So thank you, Peter. This
is a very good question, of course, and
Well, we need to we need to look actually case by case here, for instance,
if we look at the Türk empire fighting the Tang,
I would say that the climate does not affect just the army, it affects the whole society here.
So, it is a it is a crisis that is actually
much more - much more - localized and and hits
That the Türks much more deeply than...
because it's not just the military side that is
is a widespread famine there.
And... and actually, it's the economic foundations of the empire that seemed to be affected.
In terms of the Chinese army? Well, we can identify a number of other cases in which the
Chinese army, in the steppes, actually, also
suffered from from similar, similar problems.
But I would say that when we have similar conditions.
They have a different impact on different societies. Yes,
some societies are more resilient
than others that I would say is also
a question of complexity of society. And
so when we talk about the Mamluks and, and
And Mongols in Syria.
I was trying to. I was trying to summarize very quickly.
But the real question is, well, we can look at the outcome of one of one battle.
And that is not so important for me, the real question was,
why is it that the Mongols could not leave more people in Syria? So
the outcome of that particular battle?
Well, this has been studied before.
As you know, by John Masson Smith.
It could be different reasons why that
outcome of that battle was what it was.
But the real reason why the Mongols
lost Syria was they did not have
any more soldiers there. Why did
they not have any more soldiers?
So - this is just hypothetical, of course, but I think...
I think focusing on the climate
really try - it shifts, somehow the
very center of our... of our analysis
towards a broader range of causes,
so that we are not just stuck with the particular,
particular outcome of that one battle,
but we look at the context in a broader
perspective, where, where we reconstruct or,
not just the event, but also what's around
the event, the background of the event.
And then you ask also: we have more written sources on the
settled society than on nomads, that's for sure. Indeed, indeed, we do, and that is why I think
nomadic - nomadic vulnerability or...
resilience also - needs to be examined
through an ... from an anthropological and
ethnographic side. I mean, we need to know
And I found this just one article on this. What, what is the
impact on a pastoral economy of one event? I think they are more vulnerable. In other words,
A single event can, it can inflict the more damage on a pastoral
economy that it does on an agricultural
society. Um, and, and, and that's not that's not always the case, but
It's often the case, it would say this Dzud event happens every 10 years.
That means the life of a of a herder is
threatened every, several times during a lifetime.
And... and and that to me shows a greater
vulnerability. But these are all questions that
we need... that we are just opening up and I think we need the kind of, the kind of... robust debate.
In which we confront a lot of these issues and and and and...
Peter himself has been writing a lot about
the Qing in Inner Asia and so on. I mean,
I think it would be very, very interesting to
have a look at what was happening in 17th century.
Mongolia and and and Dzungar wars and so forth
in a climatic perspective as well.
This is during the Little Ice Age and
which has been studied the quite... quite a lot. But anyway, I won't, I won't go beyond that.
I think it's an excellent question.
Thank you, Professor Di Cosmo. So, a question from Stefan Helmreich: I have a question about how to
think of the ratio between the scale of human enterprise and the scale of climate effects.
I know that answering that question maybe case specific.
The relation between the 13th century
Mongolian nomadic military endeavor
and climate effects will be different
than the relation between effects of say,
fossil fuel usage, among 20th century world
seafaring militaries and contemporary climate change. So, the question is about comparison:
how portable are lessons about scale from your Mongolian case.
To other cases, especially across history?
Nicola Di Cosmo:
Again, very good question. How portable, they are; I think they're portable in the sense of the
method, methods, that we use to integrate
climate data and historical data.
I don't believe in simple analogies, of course.
Of course, there are questions of scale, but there are questions of scale in the past and
questions of scales in the present. I mean that the question is really related to what kind of
knowledge we want to get from what kind of... what kind of questions we're asking, really, so
The 13th century Mongol nomadic military
endeavor. I mean, we're just scratching
the surface of these problems right now.
We - I mean, this is not an establish...
established methodology. What I have
illustrated today as, also David McGee
said before, I mean, we are experimenting
with this... we will be bringing climate.
science data. I mean, there is also another
completely different area which is the use of ancient DNA in the study of migrations and so
and so on. So, this is not the only type of
science that we're bringing into history.
And and I... I don't know which one is going to be the new paradigm
or the new theoretical advancement in effectively integrating climate data and historical records.
We are just trying to do it now. Scale is one
of the issues that we are going to to address,
but I think it is as important to ask that methodological questions
for 18th century Mongols as it is for today's present day analysis of military
seafaring armies and contemporary climate change, so
The lessons about scale? I don't know that we have
learned the society lessons, I think
we are experimenting with scale. We
are experimenting with a lot of different
things now and I myself do not look into.
Large scale problems like other people do
like reconstructing the climate issue of the
Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. This is not a kind of research that I think is, is necessarily
I'm looking at specific historical cases.
And in how climate can help us build
a better analysis, a better case.
So, um, my answer. It's not, it's not very
satisfactory perhaps about up I think scale,
together with the with the questions of
What type - for instance - of
data, we bring into the question
because, as you said, I mean,
there are different types of data that help us.
answer different questions. In fact, some
something year to year. Sometimes we have
Decadal records, sometimes Centennial records. So, there is also temporal scale to consider.
Um, I think the real difference is
that today we - with instruments we
have.... we don't have the sort of interpretive problems that we have for the past. I mean,
we know exactly what kind of climate, we are dealing with.
Rather than having to reconstruct it so it's a different kettle of fish, if, if you, if you like,
but, but, again, what... what history can do is to bring in what our work can do is really
Reflect on the method of joining together
scientific data and historical data and
and and and trying to integrate them in a
better way. And I'm going to not going to
say anything more because of course, it's something that is a really big problem. But thank you very much.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Thank you, Professor Di Cosmo. So we have one question about Dzud
It seems to be more subjective,
right? And how to combine the
subjective understanding of Dzud - which is a heavy snowfall that leads to massive death
of the animals, which threatens the life
of of the herders - with climate, climatic
data - basically how to convince
best? So that's one question, and I
You already, I think, partially answer that question. But so,
and then- we have two more questions about
the methods, I guess, but not... but slightly
differently than before, like, one is how to avoid
the issue of determinism environmental
determinism? And the other one is about
how to combine... Sorry, how to navigate the issue
when one discipline tries to exclude the findings or the... the
importance of the others? For instance, the archaeological perspectives are often left out
or cut out of the articles in science nature, etc... So do you have for instance any advice on that? So
I would say please quickly answer that Dzud question and then
please give suggestions about how to write so that
different disciplines can publish
in science, nature, etc... journals.
Nicola Di Cosmo: So the Dzud
question, is it... I mean, Dzud is still
with us so we can... we can estimate
the kind of the kind of mortality that... that then is caused by
by this event. I mean this event is basically a heavy snow falls
or low temperature so that the animals cannot reach the nutrients.
And actually, they don't die of starvation. They died of hypothermia.
But, but, but, so they can't they can't heat their bodies enough through eating and so they die.
But the real question in historical times we
whenever we have of course historical records
is is a plus, because then we can identify immediately when
The Chinese in particular were very good
observers of what was happening on the
other side in Mongolia. So whenever there is a famine or something else.
In winter we can possibly attribute that
to a Dzud. And then we can go and look,
if possible, at the climatic conditions of that particular year.
And see whether this can be confirmed by climatic data,
lacking other direct information from the records. So in that. Is it just a simple explanation of how
knowing about this particular climatic
phenomena can help us explain some human
events that are recorded in the
sources. Is that enough as an answer?
Manduhai Buyandelger: I think so, yeah.
Nicola Di Cosmo: I know for the other... for the other
question that is a but... publishing is a really big problem.
For also for, for, for me because, of
course, it's very hard to adjust to
the type of a scientific publishing, the
norms and and the conventions that are
accepted in scientific journals when
when you are coming from a completely
different disciplines and so I don't know how to answer that question, we are still struggling.
You have seen some of these articles
that were published when very different,
very different type of journals, but typically
the historians like me have to adjust their
form of expression, if you like -
narrative form - to a scientific mode of
discussion because it's otherwise very
difficult to publish this this research at all.
The - I find the Scientific Publishing quite
rigid, but I guess there is a reason for that.
And they want to keep it rigorous, but it's also rigid and this type of
Hybrid, if you like, hybrid research half humanistic and a half scientific is not easy to
publish that. That's for sure. I think we are
still trapped in hyperspecialistic, specialized
research silos, if you like, and
it's difficult, in my view, it's very difficult to overcome that, to have
more interdisciplinary... but MIT publishes
the Journal of Interdisciplinary History,
which has been very, very good to us.
And so - a shout out to Journal of
Interdisciplinary History which has been
one of the few avenues that has been really active in this field.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Shall we take one last question, or shall we...
Heather Paxson: I think, I think we we've done the questions um... justice. Thank you so much.
So I think we'll just thank you very much. Nicola,
and thank you to David and Tristan as well. And of course, Manduhai. (clapping) I can make noise!
Nicola Di Cosmo: Thank you. I really appreciate everyone's participation in the questions as well. I hope
I was able to answer that... some
Heather Paxson: Yeah, they were great
questions and really nice discussion
and I do hope that this will be continued. I mean,
we've been hearing about other projects
that are in the works at MIT and beyond.
Much more to come (overlapping)
Nicola Di Cosmo: I hope so too...
Heather Paxson: Thanks so much, everybody.
Nicola Di Cosmo: Bye, bye.
Manduhai Buyandelger: Thank you.
All: Bye! Thank you... Thank you!