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How to avoid floods?

How to avoid floods?

Andrey Cherkasov

Scientific secretary of the Petropavlovsk Foundation

Andrey Cherkasov, Scientific Secretary of the Petropavlovsk Foundation:

- American scientist Jared Diamond in his book "Collapse" reflects on why human societies are crumbling - advanced and backward, prosperous and living in cramped conditions. Their list is wide and limited geographically by the scope of the globe, chronologically by the history of mankind. States of Mesopotamia, inhabitants of Easter Island, ancient Mayan cities, Greenlandic Viking colonies. The reasons that led these civilizations to death are different, but they are similar in one thing - in the inability to handle the resources that nature provides. The irrigation system of Mesopotamian cities led to soil salinization and the onset of the desert. The inhabitants of Easter Island - the creators of the giant statues - mercilessly cut down all the trees and destroyed the fertile soil. And when natural resources dried up, they began to eat each other.

Another example of the thoughtless use of natural resources was the Maya Indians. They destroyed the jungle, freeing up places for arable lands and cities. Centuries passed, the Indians died out, the cities were depopulated, and the jungle returned. Vikings in Greenland in the conditions of global cooling in the North Atlantic could not feed themselves in their usual occupations: farming and cattle breeding. They died of starvation, despite the fact that the rivers were full of fish.

Modern civilization Jared Dimon considers a candidate for extinction precisely because of our predatory attitude towards natural resources. This book is a warning. Jared Dimon leads his story about the lost civilizations, relying on archaeological sources. On the only thing left of them.

However, archeology makes it possible not only to understand why civilizations died, but also explains the reasons for their survival. The author gives another example - Iceland. Its soils developed as a result of volcanic activity, and therefore were subject to erosion. Vikings landed in Iceland met an overgrown island. They actively began to cut down the forest and raise sheep - to manage the household that is familiar to the inhabitants of Scandinavia. The land, having lost the protection of the forest, began to be washed out by the waters and carried away by the winds. The situation was aggravated by sheep who had trampled down the remaining vegetation. Until now, Iceland in some places is a lunar landscape. But Icelanders came to their senses in time and took action. They began to protect the forest cover and regulate cattle breeding. Understanding that extensive farming leads to the destruction of the soil and vegetation of the island, they focused on fishing in their farm, something that the people of Greenland could not do. Until now, Icelanders have taken measures to protect their island and select the optimal economic system. Among other things, they conduct archaeological research in order to determine how their ancestors lived and how to avoid their mistakes. 

With an example of the importance of knowing the past in everyday life, we pushed in the past year, when the Amur River flooded. The elements did not spare the village of Albazino, where the Albazin archaeological expedition conducted its work. Because of many days of rain, streams of water flowed through the village, demolishing everything in its path. But despite the wildfire of the elements, the expedition camp, located near the Albazinsky prison, did not suffer. And this was a superfluous confirmation of how thoughtfully our ancestors approached the choice of the place of settlement.

Amur archaeologists have long noted that all the ancient settlements and burial grounds are there, where no water reaches the river at any river spill. Of course, if you put the village on a mountain - no flood will get there. Water is life, and excessive distance from it threatens with extinction. Both now and in the past. How to find a reasonable compromise - to be near the river and not to be flooded after the rain? We understood: boldly set up an expedition camp near the ancient settlement - and you will not be washed away!

The Amur Region is a zone of risky farming. Although there are many sunny days - this is especially noticeable when you come to the Amur Region from gloomy Moscow, - the weather does not always allow the agricultural producer to feel at ease. Prescriptions of Albazinsky Cossacks of the 11th-12th centuries to Moscow survived, in which they complained of rains and dampness, because of which the harvest was rotting on the vine. Last year, the Amur residents faced the same problem - when the rain or flood caused a harvest or washed away, or it rotted.

Meanwhile, archeology shows that in the Amur region was one of the ancient centers of agriculture. Already during the Neolithic period, grain was grown here. And the ancient Amur people, probably, developed their own recipes and knew how not to suffer from the elements and weather and not to remain without harvest.

Perhaps it is the study of ancient agriculture - crops that were grown by the ancient Amur people, the tillage, the choice of places for arable land - will help modern agriculture? In addition, studying the past will help us treat nature and natural resources more carefully and carefully. 

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