Natural and man-induced hazards play an active role in the morphology and evolution of past, present and.. future ecosystems, both natural and human. They happen in periodical or chaotic patterns, varying in frequency, magnitude and functional structure. They may have also several impacts on the evolution of human civilization (biological, ecological, environmental, socio-economic, political, technological, geographical, ideological and cultural results) that are not always clearly defined, even by the victims or the generations following the event. These effects could be hidden in the 'archaeological landscapes', due to diverse parameters. Furthermore, many 'entities', for example the vulnerability of ancient societies to environmental or human-made risks, and their adaptation process to the 'unfamiliar landscapes' formed after natural disasters are not measurable as other proxy data can be be (e.g. palaeoclimatic, hydrogeological, palaeoanthropological) .
Considering the above-mentioned parameters, this paper deals with : a) the definition of a methodological framework consistent with the needs and scope of Disaster Archaeology, b) the application of risk analysis on hazardous phenomena and case studies from Pleistocene to 19th cent. A.C.E, c) the adoption of pivotal axes by contemporary mitigation plans and risk management policies (e.g. landscape evolution, human behavioral patterns, investment choices and proactive planning of past societies) and d) the deep understanding of collective shock response, its mechanism and dynamics via Psychopathology.
This attempt could result in various methodological tools and analytical parameters. The formation of disaster sequences can highlight the temporal and spatial distribution of past hazards, the elaboration of a d-base with this kind of information can enrich the flexibility of adopted scenarios and the categorization of affected targets (e.g. human lives, ecosystems' equilibrium, economic losses, products and services, artifacts, cultural identity, demographical stability, aesthetic values) can differentiate the risk assessment efforts. Finally, the analysis of the socio-cultural profile of hazardous phenomena can increase the potential power of human collaboration and good will towards serving common goals.
1. THE METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK OF DISASTER ARCHAEOLOGY
1.1 General approach
Disaster Archaeology, an upcoming interdisciplinary science, emerges and establishes itself as a uniquely significant part of the fields that deal with hazards, risk management, prevention policies and mitigation plans all over the world. Increasing possibilities of multifarious and costly natural and human-induced disasters force both civil and private sectors to move deeply and heavily into broader approaches of such events.
Considering that the functions and the results of disasters, the human response to hazards and the carrying capacity of natural and human ecosystems do not vary considerably in space and time, as several constants exist in Nature and Society, modern scientists can detect the spatial and temporal distribution of hazards. But firstly, we must define clearly the aims, the scope, the methodology and the applications of this discipline, which can provide modern researchers with a huge spectrum of information concerning hazards and disasters of the past.
Generally speaking, Archaeology of Natural Disasters (Torrence & Grattan, 2002 ; World, 2002; Byrne, 1997; Blaikie et al., 1994): a) defines the identity, the impact and the dynamics of natural hazards into the evolution of human civilization, b) tries to find and analyze the kinds, frequency and magnitude of natural hazards that are hidden in the 'archaeological landscapes', c) searches for the adaptation process in past human societies and the 'unfamiliar landscapes' formed after natural disasters.
The 'reconstruction' of the natural and cultural landscapes of the past that were 'used' and modified by humans, is a vital priority. By studying the natural, built and socio-economic environments of the past within the integrated approach of human ecosystems, we can distinguish three main categories (resources, processes , effects), three pivotal axes (A: flora, fauna, human beings, minerals, water, land, air, etc.; B: buildings, housing, communication system, water supply, etc.; C: human activities, education, health, arts and culture, economic activities, heritage, lifestyles in general) and three groups of archaeological information (ecofacts, artefacts, mentifacts).
Nevertheless, the natural hazards could happen in chaotic patterns, varying in frequency, magnitude or functional structure. They may also have several impacts on the evolution of human civilization (biological, ecological, environmental, socio-economic, political, technological, geographical and cultural results) that are not always clearly defined, even by the victims or the generations following the event. Moreover, these effects could be hidden in the 'archaeological landscapes', due to diverse parameters (e.g. natural phenomena that constantly change the landscape and falsify the evidence, applied techniques and methods concerning the retrieval of information). Finally, many 'entities', for example the vulnerability of ancient societies to environmental or human-made risks, and their adaptation process to the 'unfamiliar landscapes' formed after natural disasters are not measurable as other proxy data can be (paleoclimatic, hydrogeological, paleoantrhopological e.t.c.) ..
On the other hand, when archaeologists strike a destruction level during their excavational work, they may be dealing with global environmental events and cultural fractures, economic instabilities and movement of peoples, religious revival and suppression or revolutionary regimes, despair and major death (de Grazia 1984). But this is a rather rare coincidence. What about local events or other forms of information, such as the artistic representations, written sources of past events, indirect testimonies derived from different communicative subsystems (e.g. language, technology, warfare, conflicts) and the huge pool of beliefs (oral traditions, religious rituals, mystical knowledge, ceremonies and daily practices)?
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Laoupi, Amanda. 2010. "The socio-cultural profile of hazards. Disaster Archaeology
and the risk assessment of past catastrophic events". Disaster Archaeology. Posted: Available online: http://www.drgeorgepc.com/DisasterArchSocCultLaoupi.html