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Department of Archaeology


The European Research Council (ERC) have today announced Synergy Grants totalling €350m to address some of the world’s most formidable research problems spanning multiple scientific disciplines.

These highly prestigious grants support transformative work that addresses major research challenges, and which can only be tackled by collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches.

Included amongst the 34 successful research groups is the €10.4m 4-OCEANS project which brings together leaders with expertise in marine environmental history, climate history, natural history, geography, historical ecology and zooarchaeology to assess the importance of marine life for human societies during the last two millennia and consider how selected major socio-economic, cultural and environmental forces variously constrained and enabled marine exploitation.

The four-strong team of Principal Investigators are: James H. Barrett, Reader in Medieval Archaeology and Deputy Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge; Poul Holm, Professor of Environmental History, and Francis Ludlow, Assistant Professor of Medieval Environmental History, from Trinity College Dublin; and Cristina Brito, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences and the Deputy Director of CHAM - Centre for the Humanities, at NOVA University Lisbon.

Dr Barrett said, “By combining archaeology, history and environmental science we aim to map, date and measure past harvests of marine life. Untangling human and natural drivers, 4-OCEANS will explain how diverse historical trajectories created global networks, fuelling major centres with the products of distant ecosystems – with lasting consequences for both societies and the sea.”

The 34 projects announced today involve 116 researchers who will carry out their projects at 86 universities and research centres in 22 countries across Europe and beyond. The grants will help create some 1,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff in the grantees’ research teams.

The ERC Synergy Grant Scheme is part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.