Extreme events and natural hazards are frequent occurrences on our unstable planet. They are predicted to become more common, severe and costly in the future and this session explores their role in human prehistory and history. In order to understand the potential of contemporary and future extreme events to impact human societies, it is critical to understand the mechanisms of how they may have occurred in the past, and elucidate their effects. This session invites contributions from across relevant disciplines. Global in scope and not limited to specific types of extreme events or natural hazards, we hope to compare and contrast differing methods and datasets that address the character and role of extreme events in the human past. Ultimately, we also seek to discuss how the evidence base of Pleistocene and Holocene calamities can be brought into play in the discussion about sustainability and disaster risk reduction in the Anthropocene, as well as to explore how extreme events may have shaped our past.