Our forthcoming book ‘Waiting for the End of the World? The Archaeology of Medieval Disasters’

We would like to share a preview of the volume on the archaeology of natural disasters in medieval Europe which Chris (Gerrard), Peter (Brown) and I (Paolo Forlin) edited for the Society for Medieval Archaeology. The book is expected to be published soon this year.

Cover SMA volume edited PF

Waiting for the End of the World? The Archaeology of Medieval Disasters addresses the archaeological, architectural, historical, and geological evidence for natural disasters in the Middle Ages between the 11th and 16th centuries. This volume adopts a fresh interdisciplinary approach to explore the many ways in which environmental hazards affected European populations and, in turn, how medieval communities coped and responded to short- and long-term consequences. Three sections, which focus on geotectonic hazards (Part I), severe storms and hydrological hazards (Part II) and biophysical hazards (Part III), draw together 18 papers of the latest research while additional detail is provided in a catalogue of the 20 most significant disasters to have affected Europe during the period. These include earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, storms, floods and outbreaks of infectious diseases. Spanning Europe from the British Isles to Italy and from the Canary Islands to Cyprus, these contributions will be of interest to earth scientists, geographers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and climatologists but are also relevant to students and non-specialist readers interested in medieval archaeology and history as well as those studying human geography and disaster studies. Despite a different set of beliefs relating to the natural world and protection against environmental hazards, the evidence suggests that medieval communities frequently adopted a surprisingly ‘modern’, well-informed and practically-minded outlook.

Above: victims of the Durrës (Albania) earthquake, c.1270. Courtesy of Sonia Antonelli (Chieti University) and Barbara Sassi (Archeosistemi).

Christopher Gerrard is a Professor in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

Paolo Forlin is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

Peter J Brown recently completed his PhD in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

Researching natural disasters in the later Middle Ages

PETER J BROWN, PAOLO FORLIN and CHRISTOPHER GERRARD

PART I

GEOTECTONIC HAZARDS

CHAPTER 2

Rituals of resilience. The interpretative archaeology of post-seismic recovery in medieval Europe

PAOLO FORLIN

CHAPTER 3

Medieval Earthquakes in Italy: Perceptions and reactions

BRUNO FIGLIUOLO

CHAPTER 4

Seismic adaptation in the Latin churches of Cyprus

RORY O’NEILL

CHAPTER 5

Architectural heritage and ancient earthquakes. Limits and potential of archaeoseismological research

MARGHERITA GANZ and ANDREA ARRIGHETTI

CHAPTER 6

Medieval tsunamis in the Mediterranean and Atlantic: Towards an archaeological perspective

CHRISTOPHER GERRARD

CHAPTER 7

Volcanic eruptions and historical landscape on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

JOSÉ DE LEÓN HERNÁNDEZ

CHAPTER 8

‘The harvest of despair’: Catastrophic fear and the understanding of risk in the shadow of Mount Etna

LAUREN WARE and LEE JOHN WHITTINGTON

PART II

SEVERE STORMS AND HYDROLOGICAL HAZARDS

CHAPTER 9

Mitigating riverine flood risk in medieval England

RICHARD JONES and SUSAN KILBY

CHAPTER 10

Tide and trauma: Tangible and intangible impacts of the storms of 1287 and 1288

PETER J BROWN

CHAPTER 11

Disaster or everyday risk? Perceiving, managing and commemorating floods in medieval Central Europe

CHRISTIAN ROHR

CHAPTER 12

Recovering from catastrophe: How medieval society in England coped with disasters

CHRISTOPHER DYER

CHAPTER 13

Fear, matter and miracles: Personal protection and coping with disasters through material culture c1200-1600

ELEANOR R STANDLEY

PART III

BIOPHYSICAL HAZARDS

CHAPTER 14

Digging up the victims of the Black Death: A bioarchaeological perspective on the second plague pandemic

SACHA KACKI

CHAPTER 15

Preserving the ordinary: social resistance during the second pandemic plagues in the Low Countries

DANIEL R CURTIS

CHAPTER 16

Reconstructing the impact of 14th century demographic disasters on late medieval rural communities in England

CARENZA LEWIS

CHAPTER 17

Recognising catastrophic cattle mortality events in England and their repercussions

LOUISA J GIDNEY

CHAPTER 18

Medieval archaeology and natural disasters: what’s next?

PAOLO FORLIN, CHRISTOPHER GERRARD and PETER J BROWN

PART IV

Disaster Catalogue

PETER J BROWN, PAOLO FORLIN and CHRISTOPHER GERRARD

The volcanic eruptions of AD 536 and AD 540

The earthquake of 1117, northern Italy

The 1222 Cyprus earthquake

The Mont Granier 1248 landslide

The Samalas Eruption

The 1303 earthquake and tsunami in the eastern Mediterranean

The Agrarian Crisis 1315–1322

The ‘Millennium’ Flood of 1342

The Gauldalen slide and flood event of 1345

The 1348 Carinthia earthquake

‘Savage attack’; reactions to the Black Death in Winchester (UK)

The 1356 Basel earthquake

The ‘Grote Mandränke’ (Great Drowning of Men)

The 1382 South-East England earthquake

The St Elizabeth’s Day Flood of 1421

Arson at Sherborne Abbey, Dorset (UK) in 1437

The sweating sickness

The rain in Spain; early 16th century drought and reactions

The 1531 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami

The pan-European megadrought of 1540

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