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Going Forward by Looking Back: Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-Ecological Crisis, Response, and Collapse

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Volume 3

Catastrophes in Context

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Going Forward by Looking Back

Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-Ecological Crisis, Response, and Collapse

Edited by Felix Riede and Payson Sheets

539 pages, 38 illus., 42 figs., 21 maps, 11 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-864-1 $155.00/£115.00 Hb Published (September 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-865-8 eBook

Hb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an important body of work which significantly pushes the boundaries of the scope of archaeology… The volume is quite diverse, thematically, geographically, and in regard to the approach and methodological and theoretical perspectives taken. They add up to a highly interesting, stimulating, thought provoking, and inspiring work.” • Christian Isendahl, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Catastrophes are on the rise due to climate change, as is their toll in terms of lives and livelihoods as world populations rise and people settle into hazardous places. While disaster response and management are traditionally seen as the domain of the natural and technical sciences, awareness of the importance and role of cultural adaptation is essential. This book catalogues a wide and diverse range of case studies of such disasters and human responses. This serves as inspiration for building culturally sensitive adaptations to present and future calamities, to mitigate their impact, and facilitate recoveries.

Felix Riede is Professor of Climate Change Archaeology and Environmental Humanities at Aarhus University in Denmark. He heads the Laboratory for Past Disaster Science and his research focuses on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of Europe.

Payson Sheets is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. His life-long research has focused on the interrelationships among human societies and volcanic activity in ancient Central America.

Subject: Archaeology Anthropology (General) Environmental Studies (General) Applied Anthropology


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List of Illustrations

Introduction: Framing Catastrophes Archaeologically
Felix Riede and Payson Sheets

Section Introduction – Fire

Chapter 1. Do Deep-Time Disasters Hold Lessons for Contemporary Understandings of Resilience and Vulnerability?: The Case of the Laacher See Volcanic Eruption
Felix Riede and Rowan Jackson

Chapter 2. Risky Business and the Future of the Past: Nuclear Power in the Ring of Fire
Karen Holmberg

Chapter 3. Do Disasters Always Enhance Inequality?
Payson Sheets

Chapter 4. Political Participation and Social Resilience to the A.D. 536/540 Atmospheric Catastrophe
Peter Neal Peregrine

Chapter 5. Collapse, Resilience, and Adaptation: An Archaeological Perspective on Continuity and Change in Hazardous Environments
Robin Torrence

Chapter 6. Continuity in the Face of a Slowly Unfolding Catastrophe: The Persistence of Icelandic Settlement Despite Large-Scale Soil Erosion
Andrew Dugmore, Rowan Jackson, David Cooper, Anthony Newton, Árni Daníel Júlíusson, Richard Streeter, Viðar Hreinsson, Stefani Crabtree, George Hambrecht, Megan Hicks and Tom McGovern

Chapter 7. Coping through Connectedness: A Network-based Modeling Approach Using Radiocarbon Data from the Kuril Islands of Northeast Asia
Erik Gjesfjeld and William A. Brown

Section Introduction – Water

Chapter 8. The Materiality of Heritage Post-Disaster: Negotiating Urban Politics, People, and Place through Collaborative Archaeology
Kelly M. Britt

Chapter 9. Mound-Building and the Politics of Disaster Debris
Shannon Lee Dawdy

Chapter 10. Catastrophe And Collapse in the Late Pre-Hispanic Andes: Responding for Half a Millennium to Political Fragmentation And Climate Stress
Nicola Sharratt

Chapter 11. Beyond One-Shot Hypotheses: Explaining Three Increasingly Large Collapses in the Northern Pueblo Southwest
Timothy A. Kohler, Laura J. Ellyson, and R. Kyle Bocinsky

Chapter 12. Inherent Collapse?: Social Dynamics and External Forcing in Early Neolithic and modern SW Germany
Detlef Gronenborn, Hans-Christoph Strien, Kai Wirtz, Peter Turchin, Christoph Zielhofer, and Rolf van Dick

Chapter 13. El Niño as Catastrophe on the Peruvian Coast
Daniel H. Sandweiss and Kirk A. Maasch

Chapter 14. A Slow Catastrophe: Anthropocene Futures and Cape Town’s “Day Zero”
Nick Shepherd

Conclusion: Rewriting the Disaster Narrative, an Archaeological Imagination
Mark Schuller


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