What is the history of the Kingdom of Aceh

How a "forgotten" tsunami changed history 600 years ago

Daly and his colleagues do not believe that the low-lying coastal areas were rebuilt by local survivors returning to their homes. Instead, they suspect that the tsunami created attractive properties for Muslim trade travelers who had been driven elsewhere by European influences in the region. (For example, the Portuguese conquered nearby Malakaka in 1511.) These newcomers may have formed the core of what later became the Sultanate of Aceh, a powerful Islamic kingdom.

"After a tsunami there can be a period of total renaissance and reconstruction," says Beverly Goodman, a geoarchaeologist at Haifa University in Israel. It deals with historical tsunamis, but was not involved in the current study.

Questions for the future

The geologists and archaeologists hope that the reconstruction of past tsunamis can help us to better assess the risks of today's giant waves.

"If we only rely on the records we know, we end up significantly underestimating how often tsunamis occur in the world and what effects they have," says Goodman.

She points out that the 2004 tsunami showed Ace's vulnerability. However, the same methods used in the current one can also help identify the danger to other locations that have not been recently hit by a tsunami.

"This type of research is very important in collecting such ancient records and understanding the risk factors better," says Goodman. "The use of sediments and archaeological findings is essential to fill such gaps."

The bigger challenge, however, is likely to be in adequately preparing for such rare occurrences.

“When you tell people that there is likely to be another tsunami in the next few centuries - but we don't know when exactly - and that it will destroy the entire area, most people are willing to take that risk live, ”says Daly.

The article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com.