Department of History

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Marco Panato

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts



I am a historian specialising in early medieval history, environmental studies, and interdisciplinary research methods. I completed dual MA degrees in Medieval History and Archaeology from the University of Bologna and the University of Lyons 2 Lumière (2013-2016). Prior to this, I earned a BA in Historical, Philological, and Literary Studies from the University of Trento (2010 and 2013). I obtained my PhD in 2020 from the University of Nottingham, funded by the John Robinson PhD Studentship. Following this, I held a six-month post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Tübingen. During this post, I began conceptualising the research project that I am currently developing as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2024-2027). In this role, I collaborate with the departments of History and Classics and Archaeology at the University of Nottingham.

Expertise Summary

My research combines history, archaeology and geoenvironmental data, employing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the past. The core of my research is the early medieval landscape and historical ecology, focusing specifically on wetlands and socio-economic networks in northern Italy and south-eastern France. My research interests include the relationship between monasteries and environment, the application of the Annaliste approach (longue-durée ecological perspective) in the study of past landscapes, and the study of production-distribution circuits in early medieval Europe and the Mediterranean.

Teaching Summary

I am currently working as a seminar tutor for the first-year module 'Making the Middle Ages'.

Research Summary

My Leverhulme project considers, for the first time, how and why early medieval Italian coastal marshes promoted interaction between sea and land, and influenced the new socio-economic patterns of… read more

Current Research

My Leverhulme project considers, for the first time, how and why early medieval Italian coastal marshes promoted interaction between sea and land, and influenced the new socio-economic patterns of the Post-Roman world. Using methodologies developed in northern European contexts, I will analyse the Vetricella and Luni-Pisa marshlands (Liguria-Tuscany), comparing them with the well-studied Adriatic lagoons, highlighting differences/similarities. Published historical documents and archaeological records will be paired with recently available geomorphological-palaeo-environmental reconstructions to explore alternative human-environment relationships that led to 11th-12th-century socio-economic/urban growth, and evaluate how communities reacted to environmental changes and risks, expanding our knowledge of early medieval Italian coastal ecologies.

Past Research

I first approached the study of river-based socio-economic circuits during my MA, focusing on the 'Carolingian' Rhône valley (750-888), which I am currently redrafting into a short book. During my PhD, I analysed the relationships between the river environment and the economic-political structures in the early medieval Po valley (northern Italy). In the thesis, which will soon be publish as monograph by Amsterdam University Press, I acknowledged that major political events alone did not seem to bring major changes in daily life or broad economic systems. Instead, the period of major historical change in this area were the sixth and the late-ninth/tenth centuries corresponding to political instability and climatic/environmental change phenomena. This evidenced the pressing need for new ecological perspectives to explain historical processes. During my post-doc at Tübingen (heavily affected by the Covid-Pandemic), I pursued the collection of published materials and case studies to strengthen the theoretical framework of the book based on my PhD thesis; the drafting of an article on river navigation, recently submitted; and the design of a new research project on early medieval coastal wetlands.

Future Research

In the future, I would like to broaden my research focus on the environmental history of the late antique and early medieval Alps. Specifically, I plan to concentrate on the Lombard duchy of Trento and on its historical ecology. Additionally, I am interested in exploring the possibilities for an environmental history of piracy during the first millennium CE, in a global perspective.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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