Accelerating Environmental Change Threats to Cultural Heritage: Serious Challenges,Promising Responses
Archaeological sites serve ascultural heritage repositories. Sites with good organic preservation, in addition to illuminating past human behavior, provide us with valuable resources for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Their potential contributions are similar to other datable proxy records.
Our improving methodologies are increasing our ability to retrieve more varied information from archaeological sites, but accelerating environmental change poses a dire threat to the quality and quantity of data we can recover. Threats include: increased coastal erosion, sea level rise, more riverine erosion, drying of waterlogged sites and bogs, changes in fire regimes, agricultural land use modifications amplified by population displacements, and the warming and thawing of permafrost in the north. It seems clear that these changes are unlikely to stop or even slow. In short, our “library” is on fire and we must address the wisdom of proceeding with “business as usual.”
We seek papers that identify challenges, direct or indirect, in the field or post-excavation, that arise from environmental change. These papers should offer examples of promising responses. We are also seeking papers that address the topic at the level of multiple sites, regionally or by state or country, as well as papers that deal with the thorny issue of how to prioritize our efforts and funding for maximum benefit to all stakeholders.