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climate  

Ruben Post

The climate of the Mediterranean is defined by hot summers and mild, wet winters; high inter-annual variability; and strong seasonal winds. These characteristics impacted numerous aspects of life in the classical world, most notably agriculture and seafaring. The Greeks displayed a strong interest in climatic patterns beginning with Hesiod, and between the Archaic and Roman periods, Graeco-Roman intellectuals developed increasingly complex theories and models to explain them. Natural philosophers also posited that climatic conditions determined human characteristics, such as intelligence and behaviour.The dramatic increase of interest in and evidence for pre-modern climate change in the 21st century has revolutionised our understanding of climatic shifts in antiquity. While the scope and nature of ancient climatic developments are disputed, some major trends and their possible societal impacts have emerged as topics of interest, most notably the late Bronze Age–Iron Age climatic downturn, the “Roman Climatic Optimum,” and the “Late Antique Little Ice Age.”agricultureclimate changedeterminismgeographyhistory of environmentmeteorologynatural philosophyseafaringwindThe Mediterranean ClimateThe climate of the Mediterranean is generally characterised by dry, hot summers; rainy, mildly cool winters; relatively short transitional periods between these seasons in spring and autumn; and a high degree of interannual variability in precipitation.

Article

environment  

Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Katherine Blouin

Natural environments such as the air currents, temperatures, waters, and topography were thought to shape humans, animals, and plants. For humans, the impact was physical, behavioural, and cultural. For animals, the impacts were mostly physical (e.g., oxen in Scythia have no horns because of the cold). This is typically referred to as environmental or climatic determinism. Early explicit examples of this idea include the HippocraticAirs, Waters, Places and occasional comments in Herodotus, but arguments for such a relationship between identity and environment as early as Homer’s Odyssey and Hesiod have been made.1 There is a long-standing tradition beginning with Homer and extending through the Roman imperial period of humans, animals, and their hybrids being associated with geographic distance from an imagined centre, dwelling in designated climate bands, or being earth-born or autochthonous (gēgenēs, autochthōn) that may reflect early forms of environmental determinism. The ideas continue to circulate in much the same form as found in the Hippocratic Airs in Roman authors such as Vitruvius, Manilius, Pliny the Elder, and Vegetius.