Health, Environment and Urban Development in the Middle Ages

17-18 February 2022
Norwegian University of Science and technology, University Museum, Trondheim

The conference completes the Norwegian Research Council funded project “Medieval urban health: from private to public responsibility” (2017-2020), whose goal is to shed new light on how public health evolved from individual health practices to actions for public health; what factors caused this ground-breaking development? The overarching methodological principle has been to compare the natural and built urban environment in medieval Trondheim with the development of health, diet, and mobility. The basic information has been gathered from the large collection of well-preserved skeletons from medieval cemeteries in Trondheim. Biomolecular analyzes are applied to identify the character and volume of infectious diseases in the urban population during the period c. AD100-1600.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Passcode: 294304


Day 1 – February 17.02

Session 1: Health, decease and environment  – a multidisciplinary field of research

   (Moderator: Axel Chistophersen).

Medieval urban health cannot be studied withought insight in the complex relations between health, environment and social conditions, and without applying all available empirical data. How can we perform interdisciplinary research practices regarding health, disease and environmental issues in medieval urban environments? 

09.00-09.15:      Welcome, practicalities (Axel Christophersen)

09.15-09.45:      Key note speaker: Guy Geltner (Monash University, Clayton, Australia): 

Laws, LiDAR and Ligaments: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the History of Miners’ Health in Europe, c. 1200-1600.

09.45-10.15:     John Robb (University of Cambridge), Craig Cessford (University of Cambridge), Eugenia D’Atanasio (La Sapienza University, Rome), Jenna Dittmar (University of Aberdeen), Meriam Guellil (Estonian Bioscience Centre), Ruoyun Hui (Turing Institute,), Sarah Inskip (University of Leicester), Marcel Keller, Toomas Kivisild (KU Leuven), Piers Mitchell (University of Cambridge), Bram Mulder (University of Cambridge), Tamsin O’Connell (University of Cambridge), Alice Rose ()University of Cambridge, and Christiana Lyn Scheib (University of Cambridge and Estonian Bioscience Centre): 

Health and society in medieval Cambridge.

10.15-10.30:    Pause

10.30-11.00:     Hanna Dahlström (Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark) and Elizabeth Newell, Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, US):

The first Copenhageners – An interdisciplinary investigation of burials from two medieval churchyards from Copenhagen, Denmark.

11.00-11.30:     Ole Georg Moseng (University of South-East Norway): 

Health history – an interdisciplinary field of research.

11.30-12.00:     Axel Christophersen (NTNU University Museum, Department of Archaeology and Cultural History):

                        Layers lost: Why are the cultural layers from late-medieval towns in Scandinavia so scarce?

12.00-12.30:      Plenary discussion

12.30-13.00:      Lunch

Session 2: Towns, urban landscape and environment (Moderator: Ole Georg Moseng)

The medieval towns created its own environmental conditions. What was the challenges the urban population face during the Middle Ages concerning health and decease? What measures did urban authorities implement in the urban landscape to meet these challenges?

13.00-13.30:     Erik Opsahl (NTNU Department of Historical and Classical Studies):

Trondheim as an urban center in the Late Middle Ages

13.30-14.00:      Elisabeth Swensen (NTNU University Museum, Department of Archaeology

and Cultural History):

Water management: using archaeological evidence of water infrastructure to detect their interaction with public health management.

14.00-14.15:      Pause

14.15-14.45:     Edite Martins Alberto (Center of Historical Studies in Lisbon City Hall´s Cultural Department) and Joana Balsa de Pinho (Artis –Institute of Art History (University of Lisbon): 

It would spread throughout the land with great damage” – The first public health and healthcare practices in 15th century Lisbon.

14.45-15.15:     Claire Weeda (Leiden University): 

Policing the Urban Environment and Fifteenth-Century Military infrastructures

15.15-16.45:     Terje Thun (NTNU University Museum, The National Laboratory for Age Determination) and Helene Løvstrand Svarva (NTNU University Museum, The National Laboratory for Age Determination):

Tree-ring investigations to detect events that might have influenced the health situation during the project period

16.45-17.15:      Plenary discussion

Day 2 – February 18.02 

Session 3: Looking into the future (Moderator: Hans Stenøien).

New analythical methods at the intersection of physics, biology, and genetics have provided opportunities to ask new questions and find new answers to old questions about environment, health and disease. Where are we now, and where does the road lead into the future?

09.00-09.30:      Key note speaker: Tom Gilbert The Globe Institute, Section for Evolutionary 

Genomics, University of Copenhagen: 

Historic Trondheim – what pathogens can we detect and how did they shape our genomes?

09.30-10.00:     Nina Elisabeth Valstrand (NTNU Department of Historical and Classical Studies): Old remains, new insights

10.00-10.30:     Hege Ingjerd Hollund (Museum of Archaeology, the University of Stavanger), Sean Dexter Denham (Museum of Archaeology, the University of Stavanger), Tom Gilbert (The Globe Institute, the University of Copenhagen), Axel

Christophersen (NTNU University Museum Department of Archaeology and Cultural History): 

A histotaphonomic investigation of medieval skeletal collections from Trondheim, Norway.

10.30-10.45:      Pause

10.45-11.15:      Sean Dexter Denham (Museum of Archaeology, the University of Stavanger):

Diet, health and  quality of life in medieval Trondheim.

11.15-11.45:     Jonas Bergman (The Archaeologists, National Historical Museums): 

Parasitic disease in the medieval urban environment.

11.45-12.15:     Rebecca Blakeney: 

Seeking Evidence of Monastic Medicinal Plant Use: a case study from Hovedøya Kloster

12.15-13.00:      Lunch

13.15-14.00:      Plenary discussion, summing up (Moderator: Erik Opshal) 

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