Call for Papers

Human-Environment Interactions in Ancient Arabia (HEIAA)

Tübingen, Germany, 6-8 November 2023

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The call for papers for the HEIAA International Conference hosted by the UmWeltWandel Research Group in cooperation with the University of Tübingen is now open. This conference will be held in-person in Tübingen in November 2023.

Arabia is home to a wide variety of environmental and climatic conditions – notably hyper-aridity and desertification – and a deep history of human occupation stretching thousands of years into the past. Understanding how humans coped (or failed to) with these conditions is essential to understanding long-term patterns of human occupation and socio-political development across Arabia. The HEIAA Conference brings together specialists from a wide range of disciplines and methodological specialties to explore the dynamic range of human-environment interactions across the Arabian Peninsula from the Palaeolithic to recent historical periods. The goal of this conference is to discuss current research topics, results, and methodology employed both in the reconstruction of past environments, broadly conceived, and their relationship to people in the past. Importantly, this conference focuses on how such data and approaches can be used to examine the multitude of ways in which people’s ways of life shaped and/or were shaped by changing environments and landscapes in the past. The complexities of such research often necessitate deep collaborations between specialists working on different types of data; this conference therefore seeks to bring together experts in the fields of archaeology, history, anthracology, archaeobotany, palynology, palaeoecology, zooarchaeology, micromorphology, geology, geoarchaeology, geochemistry, climate/atmospheric science, and others, with the goal of developing novel and integrated understandings of environmental change and the development of past societies in Arabia.

The conference will consider the following themes, among others, within the broader context of human-environment interactions in Arabia:

  • Flora and fauna including zooarchaeological and malacological studies, micro- and macrocharcoals, pollen, phytoliths, animal dung, DNA, stable isotope analyses, etc.
  • Landforms and landscape reconstruction including erosion, fluvial “events”, ground water change, palaeosols, soil analysis, etc.
  • Climate (change) reconstruction including temperature changes, rainfall events, origin of precipitation etc. using various paleoclimate records such as stalagmites, biogenic and a-biogenic carbonates for geochemical analyses.
  • Archaeological records including excavation reports, surveys, and analyses. Emphasis given to human activities and ways of life linked to the environment including (semi-) sedentariness and mobility, subsistence, animal husbandry, overgrazing, agriculture and farming, deforestation, fuels, water consumption, “river” regulation, depletion, pollution, etc.
  • Dating and chronology including charcoal, sediments, shells, rocks, etc. (as they pertain to archaeological and paleoenvironmental research questions).

The HEIAA conference will begin on Monday, 6 November 2023 at 9:00 a.m. and end on Wednesday, 8 November 2023 at 5:00 p.m. and will consist of 24 papers presented in consecutive sessions over the course of three full days. Presenters will be given twenty minutes of speaking time, plus a further ten minutes for discussion.

There will be no charge to attend the HEIAA conference. Speakers will receive free accommodation in a hotel in Tübingen from 5th to 9th of November 2023, and travel costs to Tübingen and return will be reimbursed at normal fares if original tickets are provided to the organisers. Listeners are welcome to attend the HEIAA Conference but must register (mandatory) by email to by 30 May 2023 (name, affiliation, contact details). Listeners are responsible for all costs related to participation on their own, including travel and accommodation.

All of the papers accepted and presented in the conference will be published, following peer review, in the series Arabia Orientalis as a hard cover volume and fully open-access digital version.

Please send proposals (title, name(s) and affiliation(s) of the author(s), abstract with max. 200 words, contact details) to the HEIAA-2023 organisers ( by 15 January 2023. If your paper is accepted, you will receive further information regarding conference organisation and travel by end of March 2023.

Further information including this call for papers and future updates can be found on our conference website.

We look forward to seeing you in Tübingen next year!

Yours Sincerely,

The UmWeltWandel Research Group


HEIAA-2023 organisers

Conrad Schmidt, University of Tübingen
Tara Beuzen-Waller, University of Tübingen
Lucas Proctor, Goethe University Frankfurt
Katharina E. Schmitt, University of Mainz
Julia Unkelbach, University of Göttingen