Saturday, April 19, 2008

A new specialty? 'Earthquake Archaeology' Blends Two Histories
Do tomorrow's archaeologists a big favor: Always carry some change in your pocket. That way if you happen to be buried alive by an earthquake, any future researchers who unearth your bones from the quake debris can easily approximate the year of the quake.

That's one way that earthquakes in parts of the ancient Roman Empire have been dated.

But usually it's not so easy, say researchers who are pioneering the new field of archaeoseismology. Their aim is to clean up the seismological record by calling on geologists, engineers and seismologists to help archaeologists make better sense of ancient disasters.

"A better term is earthquake archaeology," said Manual Sintubin, a professor of geodynamics at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

I was about to scoff at yet another subdiscipline, but it makes sense.