|ABSTRACT||No-one doubts that climate, environment and societal development are linked in causally complex ways. The problem is in the actual mechanics linking the two, and in trying to determine the causal associations, or in assigning these causal factors some order of priority. Questions that need to be asked include, for example, at what scale are the climatic and environmental events observed, and how does this relate to the societal changes in question? To what extent are we able to differentiate between the various effects of the structural dynamics of a set of inter-connected or overlapping socio-economic or cultural systems â€“ let us call them the dialectics of the system? One good reason for a historical perspective is to determine how different categories of socio-political system respond to different levels of stress â€“ in the hope that such knowledge can contribute to contemporary policy and future planning, for example. How and why are some societal systems more resilient or flexible than others? If we donâ€™t really understand these complex causal associations, we are unlikely to generate effective responses.
Since Anatolia was for several centuries the heart of the medieval eastern Roman empire, understanding how its climate impacted on the political, social and cultural history of the eastern Roman world would seems to be an important consideration. But only recently have historians begun to think about this seriously and to take into account the integration of high-resolution archaeological, textual and environmental data with longer-term low-resolution palaeo-environmental data, which can afford greater precision in identifying some of the causal relationships underlying societal change. In fact, the Anatolian case challenges a number of assumptions about the impact of climatic factors on socio-political organization and medium-term historical evolution. In particular, the study raises the question of how the environmental conditions of the later seventh and eighth centuries CE impacted upon the ways in which the eastern Roman Empire was able to weather the storm of the initial Arab-Islamic raids and invasions of the period ca. 650-740 and how it was able to expand again in the tenth century. When looked at holistically, the palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and historical data reflect a complex interaction of anthropogenic and natural factors that throw significant light on the history of the empire and its neighbors.|