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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

Providing Reliable Data? Combining Scientific and Historical Perspectives on Flooding Events in Medieval and Early Modern Nuremberg (1400–1800)

From the book Making the Medieval Relevant

  • Tobias Kluge and Maximilian Schuh


Extreme weather events or climate phases and their consequences were a common threat to premodern societies. Detailed analysis of specific periods and societies requires profound knowledge of the political, economic, social, and climatic background. As a consequence, a single discipline can hardly study the interdependency of natural impacts and human and societal reactions adequately. Interdisciplinary approaches are thus essential for a more precise and comprehensive understanding. This paper discusses the relevance of historical research on extreme weather events and climate phases in the medieval and early modern period for the calibration and interpretation of proxy data, which environmental physicists and chemists draw from the ‘archives of nature’. Preliminary results of an ongoing research project will show how the close examination of administrative records offers a far more accurate perspective on flooding events in Nuremberg than narrative sources, which have, hitherto, dominated our understanding. These precise findings help the natural sciences to evaluate proxy climate data drawn from the analysis of stalagmites situated in proximity to the Nuremberg area. On the other hand, the natural sciences provide clues from the environmental proxies that help to explain the impact strength of extreme weather events and severe climate phases on society. Additionally, this collaborative case study allows reflection on the advantages and problems of interdisciplinary research in the humanities and the natural sciences.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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