Archaeological Sites Are at Risk of Becoming Endangered
Historians rely on the archaeological finds of ancient relics to piece together the memories from the past. Without artifacts, ruins, and historical remains, it would be impossible to educate the public on events from early life. However, because of climate change, these major archaeological sites may be jeopardized.
There are several reasons why climate change is responsible for threatening archaeology. A prime cause is the increasing dryness of peat, a soil low in oxygen that allows matter to stay preserved for years. Peatlands drying out gives oxygen a chance to infiltrate the areas where the ancient remains lie, where oxidation occurs. Unfortunately, warmer temperatures increase the risk of this phenomenon, meaning that artifacts can rot at a faster rate.
The rotting of archaeological sites is most prevalent in the United Kingdom, where an estimated 22,500 sites may be at risk. The ruin, the archaic Magna Roman Fort, has remained for thousands of years. Once occupied by Roman Britain, archaeologists have discovered shoes worn by the Romans, handwritten letters, and hundreds more valuable trinkets. Since plenty of the Magna has already been excavated, oxygen will likely enter into the peat that covers the ruins and rot the underground pieces that have not yet been located.
Another factor resulting in the threat to archaeological sites is rising sea levels. As sea levels increase, it is possible for areas of these sites to wash away. Sites located in the United States are actively at risk of irreversible damage. An increase in floods may cause memorials, such as Fort Sumter, to disappear if sea levels continue to rise.
Additionally, archaeological areas in the Arctic are heavily affected by the rise in sea levels, largely due to glacial thawing, a consequence of a warmer climate. Because the Arctic is home to about 180,000 sites, there are many different eras of time that could potentially be lost to climate change forever. This includes the sites near the Yana River, where there is current research on the Paleolithic phase of human life. These zones could fade away because of changing sea levels, leaving a disconnection from the early past.
Ultimately, there is only so much people can do to prevent peat from becoming dry or increasing sea levels that are endangering our archaeology. What is possible is to urge federal governments to see the necessity of protecting archaeological sites before it is too late.