Past Vulnerability: Vulcanic eruptions and human vulnerability in traditional societies past and present edited by Felix Riede, an associate professor in the Department of Archaeology at Aarhus University, is a collection of academic essays on the link between geological and human activity, free for a limited time courtesy of the Aarhus University Press in Denmark.
This collection of essays explores past volcanic events from 10,000s of years ago to relatively recent times, and their effects on the local cultures surrounding, via a combination of geological and archaeological and literature studies approaches to examine their physical and social impacts.
There are some pretty nifty ones which do things like look through old Icelandic literature (and the Bible and Quran) for reports on tales of eruptions handed down through various means before being recorded into an official historical document, and how people coped with the after effects (and maybe an explanation for the fabled Fimbulwinter of Norse mynthology), as well as directly examining the remains of archaeological evidence from hunter-gatherers several thousands of years BCE.
Offered worldwide through May, available from the university’s website as their featured English-language Free Book of the Month selection.
Free for a limited time, available worldwide through May @ the university’s dedicated promo page (DRM-free PDF, approx 45 mb (illustrated with lots of photos, line-drawings, and diagrams))
You can also read more about the book on its regular catalogue page.
Volcanic eruptions can affect everything – nature, wildlife, people. From the earliest times, human resilience has been tested by this most severe environmental hazard resulting in a variety of collective responses – from despair and helplessness to endurance, increased worship of the gods, and even mass migrations.
Past vulnerability breaks new ground by examining the histories of extreme environmental events, from the resent eruptions of Mount Merapi in Central Java to the prehistoric Toba supervolcanic eruption 74.000 years ago on the island of Sumatra. Experts from a broad and unconventional range of disciplines – from anthropology to literature studies and from archaeology to theology – discuss the impacts of volcanic eruptions in human history and prehistory.
The book sets the scene for a ‘palaeosocial volcanology’ that complements and extends current approaches to volcanic hazards in the natural and social sciences by presenting historically informed and evidence-based analyses on how traditional societies dealt with these dangers – or failed to do so.