Course The Aftermath of Urban Crises


Course leader: Olympia Bobou

Language: English

Graduate school: Faculty of Arts

Course fee: 0.00 DKK

Status: Course is finished

Semester: Spring 2023

Application deadline: 12/05/2023

Cancellation deadline: 12/05/2023

Course type: Blended learning

Start date: 12/06/2023

Administrator: Henriette Jaquet


All students are placed on a waiting list until we reach application deadline.

Urban development and urbanisation are not necessarily linear processes. On the contrary, periods of decline often stand out in the archaeological record. What most long-lived urban centres throughout history have in common is that they have repeatedly had to overcome major crises with far-reaching economic, cultural, and social consequences, whether the crises being natural disasters (climate change, epidemics), man-made catastrophes (war, conquest, social and civil unrest) or a combination of both (famine). The ways of overcoming these crises, however, are varied and they depend on numerous factors, such as the extent of destruction, the existence or not of a strong, central government, and so on. In fact, such factors can lead to very different outcomes following the same catastrophic event. For example, the same earthquake can prompt the respond to rebuild a city, or to abandon it, depending on factors such as the importance of the city in a local and international network, the ready existence of resources, or even ideas and beliefs about the causes of the destruction.

The PhD course will focus on the responses to urban crises, with an emphasis on the resilience, adaptability, and transformation of cities, but also the prominence that the study of urban crises has acquired in the public sphere in recent years. Research centres like the Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies (St Andrews University), the Laboratory for Past Disaster Science (Aarhus University), or the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions have been behind book series such as Catastrophes in Context (, conferences such as New Approaches to the History of Plague in Late Antiquity (, Catastrophes in Context - Archaeological Perspectives ( The current exhibition at Moesgaard Museum ‘Out of Chaos’ also addresses issues of urban resilience and transformation, while thrusting forward in the public eye the questions of crisis preparedness and response necessary for the survival (or not) of an urban settlement.

Key questions include (but are not limited to):
- Which strategies were implemented by urban communities to respond to crises of different nature? How effective were they?
- What was the role played by central governments and/or local authorities in crises response?
- How did breakdowns shape the next development of urban sites?
- How did natural factors trigger urban cultural processes?
The course (1 day) will consist of lectures, student presentations, and Q&A sessions.


The aim is to encourage students from archaeology, history, and related disciplines from the humanities to consider and discuss the role of crises and post-crises periods in shaping the development of urban settlements.
The course will offer research-led teaching on case studies, methods, and techniques for the study of the aftermath of urban breakdowns. It will also tackle the issue of presenting to the public the results of research targeting periods of crisis.


No literature is required.

Target group:

Early and late-stage PhD students.


Helene Dessales, L'École normale supérieure – PSL, Paris (

Catherine Keane, ANAMED, Koç University, Istanbul (

Kirstine Haase, UrbNet, Aarhus University / Museum Odense (

Søren Sindbæak UrbNet, Aarhus University (


Centre for Urban Network Evolutions, Aarhus University (Campus Moesgaard), building 4230.

Course dates:

  • 12 June 2023 08:45 - 16:30