The effects of tectonic processes on archaeological sites are evidenced by earthquake damage, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami destruction. However, these processes affect a far broader sphere of landform structures, environment, and even climate that envelops an archaeological site and triggers human behavioural activities.

Tectonic processes derive directly or indirectly from Plate Tectonics and associated magmatic activity of the Earth’s mantle. This volume thus provides a primer on crucial subduction- and suprasubduction-zone processes due to Plate Tectonics, where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are generated. After a general survey of how tectonic effects are dealt with in geoarchaeology, Part I details how these processes are applied to understand the Japanese landmass’s development, from continental accretion to volcanic archipelago, as a world-standard example. A full glossary of geological terms is included for easy reference.

This is followed by detailed examinations of Japan’s tectonic archaeologies in Part II: TephroArchaeology, Earthquake Archaeology, and Tsunami Archaeology. Part III summarizes and critiques the authors’ own geoarchaeological fieldwork in Japan which was underwritten by a clear exposition of its geological and geomorphological background. Looking holistically at a locale and its development through geological time is fruitful in understanding the lay of the land, its resources, and its hazards that affect human occupation potential.


Gina L. Barnes is Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies, Durham University; Project Affiliate, Earth Sciences, Durham University; and Professorial Research Associate in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS University of London. Her Research interests include archaeology and ancient history of East Asia with a special emphasis on Japan and Korea; state formation in Korea and Japan; ancient Korea-Japan relations; emergence of Yamato kingship; Japanese geology; and tectonic archaeology.

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