Global EngagementUC HomeAbout UCUC AcademicsUC AdmissionsUC AthleticsUC GlobalUC HealthUC LibrariesUC ResearchNews


UC Anthropologist to Give Keynote Presentation to Shanghai Archaeology Forum in China

UC anthropologist Vern Scarborough will deliver the keynote presentation at the Dec. 8 Shanghai Archaeology Forum in China. Scarborough will share insights from digging into the past to inspire modern water management strategies that can save time and money and may avoid negative effects on our climate.

Date: 12/7/2017
By: Melanie Schefft
Phone: (513) 556-5213
Photos By: UC Creative Services/Lisa Ventre
After climbing through rainforests and digging under arid deserts for more than four decades, Vern Scarborough, University of Cincinnati professor of anthropology, will travel to China this week to explain how ancient humans manipulated their environment to manage the planet’s most precious resource.

UC anthropology professor, Vern Scarborough, points to a poster about Water and Social Complexity.
Vern Scarborough, UC professor of anthropology gives the keynote presentation to the 2017 Shanghai Archaeology Forum

To a conference of the world’s top scientists dedicated to promoting the investigation and protection of the world’s archeological resources, Scarborough will deliver the keynote presentation at the Shanghai Archaeology Forum on Dec. 8, titled “Climate, Water and the Evolution of Early Societies: From the Tropical Maya Lowlands to the Arid Puebloan Southwest.” 
As part of a global effort to help manage the world’s water supply more efficiently, Scarborough and an interdisciplinary team of UC researchers from the departments of anthropology, geography and geology continually work to unravel the secrets of how ancient humans cleverly engineered their environment to manage water. The UC team hopes their work with global collaborators will aid in the future preservation of the Earth’s water. 
“We begin by asking what is water to humans, how do we engage with it and how does the environment engage us,’” said Scarborough, also a former department head in UC’s Department of Anthropology. “When we look at the trajectory of our changing climate, we realize that the issue is not just climate change but also water change. Climate and water work synergistically and can affect one another in critical ways.
“Given the current climate patterns, in this and the next century, we will likely face further rising sea levels, less potable water and a compromised availability of freshwater as a result of drought in many areas and unusually heavy rains and runoff in others.
“So we are looking at how the past can inform the present,” adds Scarborough.

Related news:
  • Legends of the lost reservoirs - UC interdisciplinary researchers and global collaborators dig into the past to inspire modern water management strategies that can save time and money and may avoid negative effects on our climate. 
  • Scarborough is currently editing a soon-to-be published volume for UNESCO titled “Water and Humanity: A Historical Overview,” which includes his fieldwork focusing on water and the engineered landscape at the ancestral Puebloan site of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and the ancient Maya center of Tikal, Guatemala.