From the Ground Up: Building Large-Scale Rescue Archaeology Programs to Address the Coastal Erosion and Global Warming Crises

Samedi, mai 18, 2019 - 9:00am - 12:00pm
De Tourny
  • Matthew Betts
  • James Woollett
Session Description (300 word max): 

Rising sea levels and global warming are actively destroying untold numbers of archaeological sites worldwide. With the longest coastline on the planet, Canada sits at the apex of this global archaeological crisis. Due to limited data, heritage professionals do not have a complete grasp of the actual scope of the crisis in this country, but the data we do have indicates that the task facing us is immense. Unfortunately, no coordinated national program exists to address the issue, and provincial and territorial agencies currently do not have the resources they need to tackle the problem. How do we build, from the ground up, a comprehensive approach to locate, assess, prioritize, salvage, and monitor threatened archaeological sites in Canada? How do we integrate the needs of communities and peoples whose history is being washed out to sea? Dr. Thomas McGovern, of the international North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO), and Dr. Thomas Dawson, from the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE) program in Scotland, will present papers on their experiences developing national and international rescue archaeology programs. Following the presentations, they will be joined by Canadian and American heritage experts for an open panel discussion which will respond to comments and questions from the audience.

09:10 AM: Climate change, coastal erosion and community engagement
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Tom Dawson - University of St Andrews / SCAPE

Efforts to combat the effects of erosion on heritage go back over 150 years in Scotland, with some of the earliest coastal defences built to protect St Andrews Cathedral and Castle. St Andrews is now home to a group of researchers who are continuing this tradition. Based at the University and working with SCAPE, they manage rapid coastal surveys that record heritage sites and erosion threats, using this data to recommend priority sites deserving of action. The team also run several national projects, and the most recent (the Scottish Coastal Heritage at Risk Project, or SCHARP), adopted a citizen science approach to heritage monitoring. Information on coastal sites was made available on a website (viewable on a phone or tablet); and the public were asked to navigate to local sites, check their condition and report back with images and comments. This publically-sourced data was then used to refine and reprioritise sites at risk. The project also acted as a springboard for taking action at sites. Recognising that collecting data does not save heritage, communities were asked to nominate locally-valued, yet threatened, sites and the team worked with local groups to develop innovative community projects. To date, projects have included excavations, video recording, section drawing, digital model building and even the re-location of two sites away from the coast edge to local heritage centres. The work has also inspired new working practices in several other countries and has raised awareness of the increasing threats faced by costal heritage.

09:40 AM: Talking While Digging: Responding to Climate Threats to Science and Heritage
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Thomas McGovern - Hunter College and Graduate Center CUNY

  The first decades of this century have seen a dramatic expansion in the capacity of archaeology and paleoecology to contribute to global change research, driven by both new techniques (aDNA, stable isotopes, trace element analysis and more) and by the steady accumulation of what are now “big data” resources and many successful interdisciplinary collaborations.  We are increasingly being recognized as a key player in the disciplines collaborating to attempt to find pathways to a genuinely sustainable future for our species and the planet through IHOPE (Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, ) and Future Earth ( ).  International collaborations like the Oceans Past Initiative (OPI ) are successfully bringing the perspectives of long term maritime historical ecology to modern marine resource management.

  At the same moment, our basic data and the cultural heritage of thousands of communities are also under unprecedented threat from the impacts of global climate change.  Wildfires, floods, erosion, rising seas and soil temperatures in the north and disappearing snow pack in higher elevations are threatening thousands of sites around the world.  We are now facing catastrophic loss, and we will be the last generation to be able take any meaningful action in response.  We need to workshop, conference, share best practices and (critically) involve the public and indigenous scholars- but we also urgently need to dig, record, curate, and rescue.  Our libraries are burning!