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The Archaeology of Geological Catastrophes

Buy Now!(Geological Society Special Publication)
W.J. McGuire (Editor), Dafydd Griffiths (Editor), P.L. Hancock (Editor), Iain Stewart (Editor)

Hardcover: 440 pages
Publisher: Geological Society Publishing House (7 April 2000)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1862390622

Archaeology is playing an increasingly important role in unravelling the details of geological catastrophes that occurred in the past few millennia. This collection of papers addresses both established and innovative archaeological methods and techniques, and their application in examining the impact of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This comprehensive volume includes case studies from around the world, such as Europe, Africa, SE Asia, Central and North America; covering historical and archaeological aspects of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Although the bulk of the collection views earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as agents of destruction, the volume also considers their potential benefits to past cultures - providing materials for tools, building and sculpture, and even the fertile environmental conditions on which society depended. New geophysical, geological, and archaeological methods and techniques are described and the application of these new ideas presented, providing improved knowledge of these ancient catastrophes. There is a strong focus on arguably the most prominent geological catastrophe in the archaeological record - the Bronze Age eruption of Thera (Santorini, Greece) and its consequent regional impacts on Minoan culture. This multidisciplinary text is of benefit to academic researchers and educators in archaeology, palaeoseismology and volcanology alike.


The Geological Society...should be commended for its sponsorship of this publication. The book brings together a wide variety of papers that address the archaeological identification of large-scale geological events, mainly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The book is particularly significant as it recognizes the importance of long records that can be correlated interpretively with modern instrumental data to provide an understanding of the history of earthquakes and volcanism over a millennial time scale.

The bulk of contributions focus on the destructive power of earthquakes and volcanoes and several papers deal with archaeo-seismology. The study is of pre-instrumental earthquakes that affect locations and their environments and have left their mark on the archaeological record. A group of papers address different facets of the more pertinent geologic catastrophes as the Bronze Age eruptions of Thera and the impact on Minoan culture. Human responses to volcanic eruptions of Sicily, Mexico, Iceland, and the Scottish Highlands are addresses as well as case studies from Italy, Greece, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands.

Finally, the book will act as a catalyst in the development of interdisciplinary research in which historians, archaeologists and geologists can collaborate and carry out a more extensive exchange of information, ideas and procedures. The book provides an outstanding and fascinating source of reading and information and will be of interest to a broad scientific community’.
Environmental Geology

‘The current interest in risk assessment and management has generated immense motivation in extending the data base of low-frequency (millennial timescale), high-impact geological events back before the onset of scientific observation. Equally, archaeologists are increasingly aware of the need to place cultural evolution within a framework of environmental change. Natural catastrophes may provide some of the punctuation of that change. This volume addresses geological catastrophes, essentially large-scale earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, from both of these perspectives.....it offers a set of 28 case studies of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and the use of natural resources deriving from such events.

This volume should find a home on university library shelves, for it provides much rich source material for undergraduate essays in both archaeology and geology......These collaborations should embrace a wide variety of disciplines; the role of geoarchaeologists, palaeoecologists, geographers and civil engineers is, for instance, crucial in unravelling the story of geological catastrophes...There is much to learn for all the groups involved; geologists may be largely unaccustomed to the humans dimension, archaeologists are perhaps equally unaccustomed to the interpretation of disasters, and civil engineers rarely deal with the details of ancient construction techniques. This volume signals the need for increased recognition of archaeoseismology and archaeovolcanology as specialisms in their own right in which these interactions may be nurtured’.
The Holocene.

‘This Geological Society of London Special Publication arose from a meeting titled 'Volcanoes, earthquakes and archaeology' convened at Burlington House in London in 1997. The main theme running through the book is the integration of geology and archaeology in order to understand the impacts of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on past societies, and to consider, in some cases, the lessons for understanding hazard and risk today.....this is a very worthwhile collection for those interested in the geoarchaeology of volcanic and seismic hazards in the ancient world, and the interrelationships between natural disasters and cultural change....Bill McGuire and the other editors deserve much credit for putting together such a varied and interesting set of contributions’. Geological Magazine.

‘This book is an excellent collection of 28 papers on earthquake seismicity and volcanism, and their associated geological and archaeological contexts. [The Archaeology of Geological Catastrophes] is a monumental collection of raw data, integrated observations and inferences [and it] is highly recommended. Its interdisciplinary focus will appeal to a wide range of scholars, particularly those with related research interests.’