Remarkable human achievements are revealed by archaeological research, but the human past was frequently shaped as well by disasters of natural and human origin. Drawing on case studies that include data from the geosciences, archaeological excavations, and historical sources, this class examines how earth processes, the biosphere, and human cultural behavior were all sources of catastrophe. We begin with the geological context of disaster, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, climate change, and soil depletion. Next, we examine how ancient societies responded to disease, an ever present threat from the biological environment. Finally, we look at how ancient human groups were changed by stresses of cultural origin, including overpopulation, depletion of vital resources, and warfare. The study of ancient disasters not only gives us a wider understanding of human history, it may offer lessons for coping with future catastrophes. Cross Listings: CLASSICS 300CZ.