Mini Special Issue on Studies of Historical and Archaeological Materials for Disaster Research
Masaharu Ebara and Kenji Satake
The University of Tokyo
Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Earthquake Research Institute,
The University of Tokyo
Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Japan is a country that experiences a considerable number of natural disasters. It sees frequent seismic and volcanic activity because it is located on the boundaries of multiple plates. In addition, the temperate monsoon climate brings heavy rains and therefore floods and landslides. Since ancient times, the Japanese have repeatedly recovered from various natural disasters. That history has much to teach those living alive now.
In Japan, observation systems for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been set up, and research based on the records of these instruments is actively being done. However, some earthquakes and eruptions repeat at intervals of hundreds of years, making the investigation of historical and archaeological materials essential if the true circumstances of such natural events and damage they caused are to be learned. A part of the historical disaster research currently being conducted in Japan is presented in this mini special issue.
This mini special issue contains four papers. Ebara’s paper, taking up the ways in which artificial development has transformed the topography in the last 500 years, considers the relationship between the original topography and the damage caused by typhoons. Kaneko’s contribution considers the damage sustained by one village that was hit by the tsunami that resulted from the great earthquake in the early 18th century. Kaneko surveys archaeological sites and tombstones that reveal that many of the victims were women and children. Sugimori et al. elucidate the exact time of the great earthquake in the 19th century by using historical materials written in Japanese, English, and Russian. Along with the importance of comparing and contrasting various literatures, the work teaches us that disasters have no borders. Murata proposes a method of utilizing archaeological excavations in earthquake research. It also presents a case in which the condition of the ground, which cannot be understood by surface observation alone, is estimated from traces of a disaster.
From these papers, readers can learn the potential of historical and archaeological materials in disaster research.
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