Friday, June 03, 2011

Medieval recycling: A historian looks at fifth century Britain to shed fresh light on ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’

Historian Robin Fleming’s recent lecture at Harvard was on economic calamity in early medieval Britain, and how people in desperate straits turned to “recycling” Roman ruins for what they needed.

The Radcliffe Fellow, on leave from Boston College, used dozens of slides — of knights in helmets, stone churches, iron fixtures, and more. But one picture was contemporary: a Haitian man, hammer poised in midair, scavenging rebar from post-earthquake rubble.

Perhaps fifth century Britain, thrown into abject poverty by the withdrawal of Roman power, offers a lesson to the modern world. In some countries, after all, culture, industry, and governance are fragile too, and await the fall of some modern Rome.

Click here to read this article from the Harvard Gazette

See also the interview we did with Robin Fleming in November 2010: