Responding to Burning Libraries

Author(s): Thomas McGovern

Year: 2017


Rising sea levels, increasing storminess, melting glaciers, rising soil temperatures, and increased wild fires are all increasingly affecting archaeological sites worldwide. Accelerated destruction of sites with organic preservation poses a dual threat to global and local cultural heritage and to archaeological evidence that is becoming recognized as key global change data. As archaeologists increasingly participate in local, national, and international efforts to promote genuine long term sustainability we also recognize that our "distributed observing network of the past" is rapidly being destroyed by accelerated environmental change. Many local responses to these challenges are being mounted by archaeologists and host communities, but there is an urgent need for coordination and collaboration on a wider scale to share resources, pool expertise, and identify and disseminate best practice. The threat posed to both heritage and science provides an opportunity for enhanced cooperation among resource managers and local residents as well as for outreach to the wider public. This session is sponsored by the SAA Climate Change Strategies and the Archaeological Record Committee and by the IHOPE Threats to Heritage and the Distributed Observing Network of the Past team ( We welcome new members and allies.

Cite this Record

Responding to Burning Libraries. Thomas McGovern. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431040)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14495