Aug 22, 2010


Disaster Archaeology has been established as an autonomous scientific field in 2005 by Dr. Amanda Laoupi at CANaH (Centre for the Assessment of Natural Hazards and Proactive Planning) - NTUA and presented at Athens University (Department of Archaeology and History of Art / Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment) and various international meetings in the form of post-graduate seminars and interdisciplinary papers. In the web, Dr. Amanda Laoupi's works on D.A. were firstly presented by professor George Pararas at his 'Disaster Pages', and by the independent researcher Gary David at his 'Orion Zone.

Disaster Archaeology utilizes the contributions of a wide area of scientific fields, in order to study and interpret the remains of ancient human cultures. Its objectives combine scientific and humanistic goals, including the identification and analysis of archaeological systems to illuminate the long-forgotten cultural processes that created them. As any other multidisciplinary enterprise, Disaster Archaeology includes attempts to reconstruct the full spectrum of elements composing a vanished society, its economy, commerce, political organization, religious beliefs, and mythology, before combining the existing evidence with complex information retrieved by other sciences, because the environmental setting is equally important when we study past catastrophic events.

A great number of fields provide D.A. with the needed information (Geoarchaeology, Volcanology, Archaeoseismology, Glaciology, Archaeoastronomy, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoceanography, Palaeohydrology, Paleontology, Palaeoanthropology, Palaeodemography, Palaeopathology, Palaeoecology, Archaeozoology, Archaeobotany, Palaeogeography, Palaeomagnetism, Tree-ring Dating). Respectively, research on archaeological topics may contribute to the study of past disasters (Social / Behavioural Archaeology, Landscape / Environmental Archaeology, Astroarchaeology / Astromythology, Geomythology, Archaeometry, Study of ancient technologies, Study of communication systems - e.g. languages, commercial routes, alliances and wars, exchange patterns, systems of investment and imposition, religions, economies - , Study of ancient sources of information - e.g. analysis of written texts, artistic representations, ceremonies and rites, beliefs and oral traditions). Despite their undoubted and valuable help, the final evaluation of information remains a strictly archaeoenvironmental business.

Changes, either expressed as periodical phenomena with moderate character or as sudden, violent, and highly dangerous events, transform the natural ecosystems, rebuild the landscapes and forge new dynamics in human societies, by influencing the demographic stability, the socio-economic profile, the cultural trends and many investment strategies. There is a quite promising and thought provoking approach of past disasters as a whole, within the framework of an holistic analysis, according to which we define every possible sphere of interaction between the event and its complications. The interdependence among these elements could be viewed through the lenses of the Geosphere, Astrosphere, Electrosphere and Plasmasphere, Atmosphere, Ecosphere and Biosphere, Theosphere, Mythosphere, Anthroposphere, Psychosphere, Chronosphere, e.t.c.