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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Mr Peter Brown

Brown, P. J. (2017). The contribution of archaeology to the study of historical disasters. In Archaeological Approaches to Breaking Boundaries: Interaction, Integration and Division. Proceedings of the Graduate Archaeology at Oxford Conferences 2015–2016. O'Sullivan, R., Marini, C. & Binnberg, J. Oxford: BAR Publishing. 2869: 239-245.

Author(s) from Durham


Recently, a ‘call to arms’ has been issued to historians, emphasising the contribution their discipline can bring
to the study of the impact of catastrophes on human society, specifically in the medieval period. This highlights the,
relatively, long-term perspective and detailed analysis which a historical perspective can provide compared to focussing
solely on contemporary or very recent disasters. Archaeology as a discipline is similarly well placed to approach this subject
but rarely does. This paper, focussing on medieval European evidence, offers a brief review of the reasons for this hesitancy
in tackling topics related to natural disasters, what archaeologists can offer in the study of past disasters and what directions
future archaeological research should favour in order to increase the contribution of archaeological research to this area of