Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Up Side of Fires and Storms

In 2002, there was a monstrous, mother-of-all fires in Arizona: the Rodeo-Chediski fire. It burned for 3 weeks and consumed nearly half a million acres. Thirteen hundred archaeological sites--including ancient villages, early railway camps, and rock art, were endangered by the fire. (don't know how many were actually damaged). This image is from NASAMODIS and was found at (of all places) the website of the National Wild Turkey Federation, or

In its aftermath, though, at least a dozen new archaeological sites on the White Mountain Apache reservation were exposed and "discovered," according to an article in Archaeology Magazine online. That article mentions a 1996 Colorado fire that revealed 400 sites after burning 5000 acres of Mesa Verde National Park.

Of course, more is lost in a disastrous fire than is found; I don't mean to imply otherwise. In fact, the White Mountain Apache tribe filed a civil suit against the woman who accidentally started the fire, which charred sacred sites on the reservation.

The Arizona Republic published a 5-year retrospective on the fire's damage here June 17, saying, "Miles of forest will be a wasteland for generations."

I'm reminded of this because the BBC reports that two 2000-year-old round houses on the beach in North Uist, Scotland were exposed by a terrible storm in 2005. The sites are in danger of being damaged by future storms, but for now, the round houses are being studied as they sit on the coast.

Here is a picture presentation of the Iron Age structures. These, including the picture shown here, are taked by SCAPE: the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and Problem of Erosion, a group funding the investigations. The remains of a round house are pretty clear here.

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