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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

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

ISBN  978-1-78920-864-1 $179.00/£132.00 / Hb / Published (September 2020)

ISBN  978-1-80073-928-4 $45.00/£36.00 / Pb / Not Yet Published (March 2023)

eISBN 978-1-78920-865-8 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $45.00info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®



“This collection presents diverse studies of climate disasters and human responses, with a particular focus on how knowledge of past catastrophes and resilience in their aftermath can contribute to risk reduction in the future…This is a must-read book on how the world today will face and deal with recurrent disasters through the lens of deep history over time.   Highly Recommended.” • Choice

“This book is causing me to think about how greater attention to environmental hazards through an archaeological lens can shine light on both the strengths and weaknesses of human societal responses…[It] represents an exciting attempt to bring the heft of deep history to bear on the formidable climate‚Äźrelated challenges before us.” • American Anthropologist

“The authors have analysed voluminous data from various sites to present a cogent picture of the response by societies to disasters resulting from volcanic eruptions, floods and droughts. The book should be read by policymakers and administrators to strengthen their work in finding disaster relief measures which are people friendly. The book has significant value.” • International Journal of Environmental Studies

“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: ArchaeologyAnthropology (General)Environmental Studies (General)Applied Anthropology


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