Felix Riede (Aarhus University)

27 October – 4PM UK

Curating catastrophe – bringing the archaeology of past extreme environmental events and their societal impacts to bear on the present 

Extreme events – meteorological and geological – are on the rise, as are their costs in lives and livelihoods. 13,000 years ago, at time of already dramatic climate change a large volcanic eruption occurred in the heart of Europe. Thunder roared and day was turned into nights for months on end. Archaeological evidence suggests this eruption led to a suite of societal impacts, ranging from depopulation to migration and cultural effervescence. In my talk, I will be reviewing the interdisciplinary investigations that have shed light on the various direct and indirect impact pathways – climatic, ecological and social – that link this eruption to the changes observed in the archaeological record. Against this evidence canvas, I will then reflect on how this (and other) ancient calamities may be made relevant to our contemporary climate change concerns through combined strategic efforts that target scientific outlets that feed policy and through museum engagement.