Waste lands? New perspectives on the archaeology of disaster recovery in medieval Europe

MSCA-IF-GF (Global Fellowships)

The WasteLands project explores the aftermath of medieval disasters in Europe from an archaeological perspective. Using a novel theoretical and research framework to tackle topics such as resilience, memory, power, and identity in the aftermath of destructive catastrophes, WasteLands employs a non-invasive landscape approach to address three iconic disasters across Europe: the Mont Granier megalandslide, 1248 (France); the Carinthia and Friuli earthquake, 1348 (Austria, Italy and Slovenia); the St Elizabeth’s megaflood, 1421 (Netherlands). The project methodology integrates remote sensing, fieldwork, buildings archaeology and the analysis of historic and iconographic sources. WasteLands aims to expand the theoretical debate about the concept of resilience by developing a systematic study of natural disasters ‘in the landscape’, posing novel questions addressing under-represented topics through original dialogues between archaeology, cultural anthropology, and disaster studies scholars, and contributing effectively to disaster risk communication in contemporary societies.The project will be developed by Paolo Forlin under the supervision of Prof Andrea Augenti (supervisor at the University of Bologna, Italy) and Prof Matthew Johnson (supervisor at Northwestern University, USA). During the outgoing phase at Northwestern University, Paolo will analyse in depth the archaeology of the selected ‘landscapes of disaster’, apply up-to-date archaeological and anthropological theory and engage with a diverse and multidisciplinary team of scholars from the same university. During the return phase, he will be integrated within the research environment of the University of Bologna where the candidate will complete his research activities, disseminate the scientific results of the project, and develop a cultural heritage and community engagement programme focused on disaster risk communication. The latter activity will be strengthened through two project secondments at the Biesbosch Museum, Netherlands and at the INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) in Bologna, Italy.

Project duration
September 2021 – August 2024

Unibo Team Leader

Supervisor: Prof. Andrea Augenti

Fellow: Dr. Paolo Forlin


Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna (Italy)


Northwestern University (USA)

INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia)

Biesbosch Museum (Netherlands)


251.002,56 €

Sito web

 Level II ERC sectors **:

SH6 The Study of the Human Past: Archaeology and history