After The Ashfall: What Ancient Environmental Disasters Can Tell Us About The Human Attachments To The Landscape
(c) Jade Beal
María Nieves Zedeño is a North American archaeologist, who has focused mainly on integrating archaeology, ethnohistory, and ethnography into projects designed to fulfill the ethical and legal requirements of cultural preservation and to explicitly address contemporary cultural and social concerns of tribal communities for the last 23 years.
María Nieves Zedeño
In 1815 Tambora, a volcano in a small Indonesian island just east of Java, violently erupted killing untold numbers and incinerating villages and crops. This eruption, which historian Gillen D’Arcy Wood compares to that of Mount Mazama (now known as Crater Lake, Oregon) 7600 years ago, not only blackened the sky and reshaped the island landscape, but also disrupted climate patterns around the globe. Most survivors, who once produced food and luxuries for consumption, tribute and trade, never returned. Island society, in other words, disappeared from the historical record. As we live in a world fraught with ever worsening environmental disasters, my colleagues and I reflect on how ancient people in North America coped with various known disasters, especially the Mazama eruption and its aftermath, why they returned to denuded ancestral landscapes, and what valuable lessons they may teach us to find avenues for social action.