Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Samantha Lash

Email Address: 
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Sam’s research sits at the intersection of environmental science and archaeology. She studies local variability within inferred patterns of land-use, economic systems, and environmental change during the 1st millennium BCE in the Western Mediterranean. The methodology of her work is based in palaeoclimatology and archaeometry embedded in a theoretical framework stemming from political ecology. Her dissertation examines the extent and ways that indigenous traditions and colonial innovations of rural production and settlement were combined or rejected in several coastal lowlands across the Western Mediterranean, as local communities adapted their own needs to colonial rule and its demands. These case studies are selected as physical and conceptual spaces of confrontation and negotiation between colonization policies and rural realities as shaped by different relationships to the natural world. This is based on her archaeological fieldwork in Sardinia, Central Italy, Tunisia, and Spain, supported in part by IBES. The analytical core of her dissertation stems from her research in DEEPS on developing a novel method application for extracting palaeoclimatic information directly from archaeological materials using a unique class of organic biomarkers. The basis for the application of GDGTs (glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraetherlipids) as chemical biomarkers is the assumption that variation in climatic variables, including mean annual air temperature, soil pH, and precipitation, over space and time are reflected in the composition and distribution of these compounds. She is finishing up all lab analyses for her dissertation (supported by IBES’ RT&T grant) and writing up her dissertation as well as several articles including one focused on the assumptions and transdisciplinary misunderstandings that lead to the misalignment and misinterpretation of climate and archaeological data in Mediterranean environmental history.

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