• Nijo Castle - Great Eastern Gate / Peter Lee / CC BY-NC-SA; https://flic.kr/p/8kY3pD


Theme 13: The Archaeology of Disaster: Exploring the Past for the Future

Katsuyuki Okamura (Osaka City Cultural Properties Association), Nathan Schlanger(École nationale des chartes) and Makoto Tomii (Kyoto University)

The history of humankind cannot be discussed without including our response to disasters. Natural hazards and human-caused disasters have altered peoples’ lives, their settlements, and surrounding landscapes in the past and present. Archaeology has identified these disasters along with their contexts, and explored the interactions between humans and nature, and the long-term implications of human activities. More importantly, the investigation of past disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunami, can be utilized to improve modern disaster management.

Another integral matter relating to disasters is heritage, be it cultural or natural. Heritage around the world is exposed to numerous risks resulting from disasters, both natural and those with a human agent. In the past few years the world has witnessed the intentional destruction of heritage due to war, and even more tragically, Japan lost whole communities and their associated histories and heritage in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Tohoku. Every loss makes us appreciate again the meaning of heritage, which includes intangibles, as well as community and culture. Contemporary disasters require from archaeologists unprecedented recovery management methods, technologies, and collaboration. During catastrophes, archaeologists and heritage managers are suddenly faced by a concurrence of serious issues that create both challenges to their field and opportunities for further development of it.

At WAC-8 sessions under this theme we will tackle ‘disasters’ from different angles. Session participants will assemble and share wisdom for our future.

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