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Finding the Positive in the Negative: Archaeology and Data Collection in the Face of Natural Disasters

  • Tanya M. Peres (a1) and Aaron Deter-Wolf (a2)

The impact of natural disasters and climate change on archaeological resources has garnered much recent attention, with impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding being the two most often cited issues. However, damage caused by flooding of interior areas and waterways has received less consideration. In this article, we present a case study of a collaborative emergency response to a significant weather event and the ensuing impacts on archaeological resources. Our project, located in Middle Tennessee, documented severe erosion and subsequent anthropogenic disturbances to ancient Native American sites following massive flooding of the Cumberland River in 2010. While striving to mitigate this damage via systematic collection of imperiled archaeological samples, we were also able to strengthen partnerships among professional archaeologists working in different arenas (academia, state and federal agencies) and the avocational archaeological community. As these types of weather-related events become more common, published case studies of response efforts will be crucial in archaeological site management, planning, and disaster response.

En tiempos recientes, el efecto del cambio climático y desastres naturales en el registro arqueología y patrimonio ha ganado mucha atención, especialmente el aumento del nivel del mar y la inundación del litoral. La destrucción en la interior por cause de la inundación fluvial ha recibido menos consideración. En este artículo, presentamos un caso involucrando un programa emergencia en respuesta a un evento climático y subsecuentes impactos al registro arqueología. Nuestro proyecto, de 2010 en el valle de Río Cumberland de Medio Tennessee, ha documentado erosión severa y cambios a sitios arqueológicos indígenas. Durante nuestros trabajos de rescate y documentación, fortalecimos las relaciones entre arqueólogos académicos, estatales y federales y la comunidad. Viendo que estos tipos de eventos de la clima están ocurriendo con más frecuencia, este modelo de estudio podría ser más importante en el manejo, planificación y respuesta al desastre.

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