Leading archaeologists call for assessment and protection plan
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Thousands of archaeological sites around the world are at risk to rising sea levels , according to leading scientists with the Smithsonian Institution, Southern Methodist University and the University of Oregon. The three archaeologists have issued a call to action for scientists to assess the sites most at risk and take steps to protect them.
Using California’s Santa Barbara Channel as a case study, the researchers showed how quantifiable factors such as historical rates of shoreline change, wave action, coastal slope and shoreline geomorphology can be used to develop a scientifically sound way of measuring the vulnerability of individual archaeological sites. They then proposed developing an index of the sites most at risk so informed decisions can be made about how to preserve or salvage them.
Thousands of archaeological sites—from large villages and workshops to fragmented shell middens and lithic scatters—are perched on the shorelines and sea cliffs of the Santa Barbara Channel, the researchers point out. The archaeological record is never static, and the materials left behind by one generation are altered by the people and environment of the next. However, increasing threats from modern urban development, sea level rise and global warming are poised to increase this steady pattern of alteration and destruction.
“Measuring threats and identifying vulnerable sites is not an end in itself, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Coastal Conservation. “We must find ways to act … by quantifying those sites most vulnerable to destruction, we take a first step toward mitigating the loss of archaeological data and the shared cultural patrimony they contain.”
Filed under: Environment, global warming, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | archaeology, Current sea level rise, Environment, global warming, sea level rise, Smithsonian Institution, Southern Methodist University, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, University of Oregon