Fall 2009

SCIE 641
Where Earth's Plates Meet: Role of Seismicity & Volcanism in the Development of Early Civilizations

Zeilinga de Boer,Jelle

11/02/2009 - 12/10/2009
To be announced -

This course will meet during a condensed 6-week schedule, November 2-December 10, including afternoon field trips on November 7, 14, and 21. See description for full course schedule.

A simple map of the world shows clearly that most ancient civilizations developed in or close to the tectonic belts where tectonic plates collide. It appears counterintuitive to believe that destructive natural events in such zones could have been potential catalysts of positive societal change. Yet, the correspondence is remarkable!

The course will begin with a discussion of the tectonic setting and geologic evolution of the Circum Pacific and Thethys (Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Indus, Indonesia) belts and review of specific destructive events with emphasis on their recurrence frequency. This is followed by environmental determinism (fault zone topography, soils, geochemistry and water sources). In the final week we will discus the role (positive) stress may have played in survival and cultural changes. The course will include two or three fieldtrips.

Course Schedule: This course will meet Monday and Thursday evenings, 7-9pm, from November 2 through December 10. On the Saturdays of November 7, 14, and 21, the course will meet from 12-4pm.

Course tuition: $2022.

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer (B.S., Ph.D. University of Utrecht) is Harold T. Stearns professor of earth and environmental sciences, emeritus, and author, with Donald T. Sanders, of Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions (Princeton University Press, 2005) and Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-reaching Effects of Major Eruptions (Princeton University Press, 2002). Click here for more information about Jelle de Boer.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:


Jacquetta Hawkes, THE ATLAS OF EARLY MAN (St. Martin's Press), Paperback

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