Past Human Environments In Modern Contexts

Convened By
Max Baldia (USA), Tim Perttula (USA) and Douglas Frink (USA)

Theme Details
Environmental issues have long been one of the preeminent components of archaeology. Where people live, what they eat, what they harvest, procure, or utilize – all these things and more are determined or influenced by the opportunities, challenges, and constraints of their immediate environment. At the same time, how people interact with the environment is channeled, controlled, or otherwise influenced by social political, demographic factors. Archaeologists and their colleagues in other disciplines have worked not only to investigate these relationships, but to track how they changed over thousands of years.

Today we have a broad range of analytical tools and interpretive models to illuminate the workings of prehistoric human ecosystems. Among the techniques employed, detailed faunal studies may reveal not only the species of shellfish recovered at a site, but the season when they were harvested. The tree rings present in wooden beams from structures can be correlated with climatic shifts, and also provide an absolute date for the structure in question. And shifts in settlement and subsistence patterns can be related to changes in forest/grasslands boundaries, exploitation strategies, and environmental influences.

Of course, an archaeology focused on environmental issues underrepresents the social and intellectual realms, and often substantially so. This is exacerbated by the fact that not all elements of the human experience preserve equally or at all in the archaeological record – stones, pottery, and bones are more durable and recognizable than those often subtle features of material culture that reflect kinship or gender roles. Contemporary archaeologists have generally moved far from the environmental determinism of the past decades in any case, and our understanding of the natural, social and other dimensions of past human societies has increased through greater awareness of the issues. In addition, our perspectives of human-environmental relations has increased substantially not only by developing more critical perspectives, but also by working with Indigenous peoples who themselves are becoming more involved in archaeology worldwide.

Our frame of reference concerning the environmental dimension in archaeology continues to shift as well. Long dominated by hard science approaches (e.g., oxygen isotopic studies; palynology), the field has broadened appreciably by concerns for, and interest in, the more human elements (e.g., influence of worldview on environmental relations; employment of traditional knowledge in resource harvesting and management). This follows similar trends in the broader field of anthropology.
The starting point for this theme then is that not only are human-environmental relations highly dynamic, but so too is the way that we study and interpret those relations. Moving from the fundamental basis of analysis through to an heuristic appreciation of the inherent mechanisms operating within human-environment interactions is an essential aspect of current research methodologies. In recognition of this, we identify two complementary dimensions of this theme. The first examines past human-environmental interactions from the perspective of “modern” science, and the second from that of “ancient” science (i.e., traditional or Indigenous knowledge). The interface that exists between them is likely to be a particularly important and productive source of intellectual tension and methodological challenges.

Please visit the Comparative Archaeology website for more information:
Douglas Frink
Archaeology Consulting Team
57 River Road, Suite 1020
Essex, VT 05452

Dr. Maximilian O. Baldia,
The Comparative Archaeology WEB
3616 Dinsmore Castle Dr.
Columbus, OH 43221-4410

Dr. Timothy K. Perttula
Archeological and Environmental Consultants
Austin, Texas

Potential Session Topics

Reconstructing Ancient Landscapes: GIS and Beyond
Interpreting Past Human-Environment Interaction
The Social Dimensions of Wetland and Other Environments
Anthropomorphic Influences on Landscape Development
Issues of Scale in Prehistoric Human Ecology
Indigenous Perspectives in Environmental Archaeology
Applications of Archaeological Knowledge to Modern Environmental Problems


Correlation Between Cultural And Environmental Change Across The North Pacific Rim

Organized By
Jim Cassidy (USA), Michael A. Glassow (USA)and Nina A. Kononenko (Russia)

Session Details
Jim Cassidy,
Department of Anthropology,
University of California Santa Barbara

Michael A. Glassow,
Department of Anthropology,
University of California Santa Barbara

Nina A. Kononenko,
Institute of History,Archaeology and Ethnology of the peoples of the Far East,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch.

Human populations have occupied coastal regions of the north Pacific Rim since the Late Pleistocene, and archaeology has revealed that prehistoric coast-dwelling populations exploited a broad range of terrestrial, riverine, lagoonal, estuarine, and marine resources. For the purpose of this symposium, the north Pacific Rim is defined as extending from southeastern Korea, north to the Bering Strait, and then south to the southern boundary of California. In regions of the north Pacific Rim with long records of occupation, it is evident that prehistoric coast-dwelling peoples responded to many different kinds of environmental change, including those caused by such factors as climatic fluctuation, sea level rise, changes in water salinity, and infilling of lagoons and estuaries. As well, human population growth, expansion, and competition affected ecological relationships. Papers presented in this symposium concern three principal topics: archaeological evidence of past coastal environments and environmental change, human response to environmental change, and the manner in which prehistoric cultures adjusted to new environments as populations expanded into new territories.
Early Maritime Cultures In The North Pacific Region
Robert E. Ackerman (Department of Anthropology, Washington State University , USA) Human Response to Environmental Change on the Coast of British Columbia.
Roy L. Carlson (Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Correlations Of Climate And Culture Change In The Primorye Of The Russian Far East During The Formation Of Proposed Bronze Age Cultural Complexes.
Jim Cassidy (Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara, USA) Variation in Coastal Adaptation During the Middle Holocene Prehistory of the Santa Barbara Channel, California
Michael A. Glassow (Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara, USA)
The Japanese Archipelago Towards The End Of The Pleistocene
Fumiko Ikawa-Smith (Department of Anthropology, McGill University, Canada) On the Earliest Evidence of Marine Resource Exploitation in the Russian Far East.
Nina A. Kononenko (Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology of the peoples of the Far East, Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch)
Cultural And Environmental Change In Coastal Korea
Sarah M. Nelson (Department of Anthropology, University of Denver, USA) Environmental Changes and Migrations: Case of Study
Yuri E. Vostretsov (Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology of the peoples of the Far East, Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch)
Paleoecology Of The Boisman Culture In North Pacific Perspective
David R. Yesner (University of Alaska Anchorage, Canada) and Alexander N. Popov (Museum, Far Eastern State University) Complex Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher Peoples in Coastal California: A Critical Examination of Resource Intensification
Kent G. Lightfoot (Archaeological Research Facility, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)

Session Time
Day Wednesday Date 25th June
Time 9AM-1PM Room Caldwell 109

Comparative Archeology And Paleoclimatology: Sociocultural Responses To A Changing World

Organized By
Max Baldia (USA), Timothy Perttula (USA) and Douglas Frink (USA)

Session Details
Organized by
Maximilian O. Baldia, Research Associate
Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, USA
Editor, The Comparative Archaeology WEB
Director/Principal Investigator, Czech-American Research Program

Timothy K. Perttula, Director/Principal Investigator
Archeological and Environmental Consultants, Austin, TX, USA

Douglas S. Frink, Director/Principal Investigator
Archaeology Consulting Team, Essex Junction, VT, USA
Archaeological excavations throughout the world and at all time periods show surprising but strong correlations between climatic oscillations and the character of social and cultural responses by different human populations. They confirm humanity’s battle with (and impact on) the environment. In some cases, adjustments are a principal cause for social and technological innovations. Innovations include plant and animal domestication, as well as the punctuated spread and adoption of agriculture, the first use of wheeled vehicles, the construction of large earthen and stone monuments, and perhaps the advent of metallurgy. In other cases, an outright collapse of cultural systems is indicated. Signs of collapse traced to climatic oscillations include religious and social upheavals, warfare, genocide, site abandonment, and population migration. This session aims to examine the range of sociocultural responses to climatic stress and specific climate forcing variables that may account for the observed climate record. Tree-ring data, lake level and glacial fluctuations, ice core data, pollen analysis, physical anthropology research, and other pertinent data will be used for high quality reconstructions of climatic and human history in different parts of the New and Old World. This history will be used in conjunction with changes in settlement and procurement strategies, human physical and dietary changes, technological innovations, as well as stylistic and symbolic convergence, to measure sociocultural responses to and impact on climate change, reflected in archaeological data from nomadic hunter-gatherers, proto-horticulturalists, sedentary agriculturists, to early urbanized societies.
The Poverty Of The Settlement Abandonment Concept In Archaeology: Ancestral Pueblo Landscape Use In The American Southwest
Michael Adler (Anthropology Department, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA) Breaking the Agricultural Barrier: Paleoclimate and the Funnel Beaker Culture
Maximilian O. Baldia (Research Associate, Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Distribution Pattern Of The Settlement Sites With Menhirs In SW Atlantic Europe And The Inference Of The Socio-economic Organization Of Their Builders
David Calado (IPPAR. Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico, State Department for Cultural Affairs, Portugal) Late Holocene Climatic Change and Human Responses at Southern Patagonia: A Geoarchaeological view
Cristian M. Favier Dubois (CONICET/Departamento de Arqueología, Universidad Nacional del Centro, Olavarría, Prov. de Buenos Aires. Argentina)
Transforming Linear Limits Into Dynamic Solutions: Changes In Environmental Constraints And Cultural Adaptations
Douglas Frink (Director/Principal Investigator, Archaeology Consulting Team, Inc., Essex Junction, VT, USA) Taphonomic processes affecting monumental earthen architecture as a proxy for climatic change
Douglas Frink (Director/Principal Investigator, Archaeology Consulting Team, Inc., Essex Junction, VT, USA)
Sprucing Up The House: An Interdisciplinary Investigation Of An 18th Century Communal House In Northern Labrador
Susan Kaplan (Director of Peary-Macmillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center, Sociology & Anthropology Dept., Bowdoin College, Brunswick, USA), Jim Woollett, Rosanne DíArrigo, Brendan Buckley, Allison Bain, and Cynthia Zutter Society and Ecology during the Middle Bronze Age of Southern Scandinavia.
Lars Larsson (Arkeologi, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden)
It Got Cold And They Died? Climate And The End Of Norse Greenland
Thomas H. McGovern (Northern Science & Education Center, Anthropology Dept, Hunter College CUNY, New York, USA) Nomadic Agriculturalists in Wetland Mediterranean Archaeology: Papa Uvas (Aljaraque, Huelva, Spain) in its Context
Agustín Mª Lucena Martín (Área de Prehistoria, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Plaza del Cardenal Salazar, Córdoba, Spain)
Cultural Response To Environmental Change In The Alps: Seeking Continuity In The Bronze Age Lake-Dwelling Tradition
Francesco Menotti (Institute of Archaeology, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford, England) Marshland of Cities: Deltaic Landscapes and the Evolution of Early Mesopotamian Civilization
Jennifer R. Pournelle (UCSD Dept. of Anthropology, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA , USA)
Population Movements And The Archaeological Record
Dean R. Snow (Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University, 409 Carpenter Building, University Park, PA, USA) The Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in the Carpathian Basin: Was there anecological trap during the Neolithic Age?
Pál Sümegi (University of Szeged, Department of Geology and Paleontology, 6722 Szeged Egyetem u.2., Hungary), Róbert Kertész, Imola Juhász, Gábor, Tímár-Sándor Gulyás
Early Prehistoric Migration As Sociocultural Response To A Changing World
Olena V. Smyntyna (Department of Archaeology and Ethnology of Ukraine, Mechnikov National University, Odessa I.I., Ukraine) From Hunter-Gatherer to Livestock-Keeper: Economic Change in Northeastern and Southwestern Africa
Ralf Vogelsang (Universität zu Köln, Forschungsstelle Afrika, Jennerstr. 8, 50823 Köln)
Dangerous Regions: A Source Of Cascading Cultural Changes
Joel Gunn (New South Associates, Inc., Mebane, North Carolina, USA) Redefining the Shashe-Limpopo Landscape: An Archaeological Perspective
Munyaradzi Manyanga (University of Botswana, Archaeology Unit, Botswana)
Climatic Change And 3rd Millennium BCE Collapse: A View From The Mesopotamian Delta
Jennifer R. Pournelle (UCSD Dept. of Anthropology, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA , USA) GIS Study of Settlement Structure in Response to Climatic Change During the TRB: Moravia, Czech Republic
Matthew Boulanger (Archaeology Consulting Team, Inc., Essex Junction, VT 05452, USA)
Unionidae As A Potential Food Source For A Late Neolithic Community From Hódmezõvásárhely-Gorzsa, Hungary
Sándor Gulyás (University of Szeged, Department of Geology and Paleontology, 6722 Szeged Egyetem u.2., Hungary), Anikó Tóth (University of Szeged, Department of Geology and Paleontology, 6722 Szeged Egyetem u.2., Hungary), Pál Sümegi (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archeology, H 1014 Budapest, Úri u.49. Hungary) Late Neolithic man and environment in the Carpathian Basin- a preliminary geoarcheological report from Cs_szhalom at Tiszapolgár
Pál Sümegi, Sándor Gulyás, Zoltán Hunyadfalvi, Sándor Molnár, Katalin Herbich, Mariann Imre, Gabriella Szegvári (University of Szeged, Department of Geology and Paleontology, 6722 Szeged Egyetem u.2., Hungary) and Imola Juhász (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archeology, H-1014 Budapest Úri u.49, Hungary)

Session Time
Day Sunday & Monday Date 22nd & 23rd June
Time 9AM-1PM & 4-6PM (Sun Room Caldwell 109

Pre-industrial Urbanism In Tropical Environments: Magnitude, Organisation And Ecological Impact

Organized By
Roland Fletcher (Australia)

Session Details
Large low-density urban complexes were a feature of tropical regions in the Old and the New world through the first fifteen hundred years of the Common Era. The similarities in the overall form and milieu of these settlements were noted many years ago by Coe and Bronson, among others. The ecological conditions of human impact in the tropic are also a current topic of some concern suggesting that the analysis of past settlement patterns and their history may help to reveal the fragilities and the strength of tropical environments. The issue is of broad significance because by the time of the European expansion the low density, dispersed type of urban settlement had largely been replaced by small compact urban settlements. The demise of the low density cities of the Maya in Yucatan (e.g. Tikal) and of the Khmer in SE Asia (e.g. Angkor) has been ascribed to ecological disaster though there are competing opinions. What led to their demise is therefore of some general relevance. The purpose of the session is to establish a dialogue between archaeologists, historians and environmental researchers to try and ascertain what may have happened and why the overall form of the low-density cities of Mesoamerica and SE Asia came to look quite similar.

A broader aim of the session is to bring together researchers and members of the public interested in the characteristics of pre-industrial low-density urbanism in the tropics and its long term ecological viability. The session may also be relevant to researchers in Amazonia and West Africa who are very welcome to participate, as is anyone who is concerned with the general issues of the session.

The emphasis of the session will be on:
* New analytical and interpretive methods to reconstruct ancient human landscapes, such as GIS modeling.
* Identification, interpretation, or evaluation of proposed past human-environment interactions, and specifically the relationship between human-induced and natural environmental changes.
* Anthropomorphic influences on landscape development, associated with both small-scale and large-scale societies.
* Reconstructing past landscapes and visualising urban form.
* Applications of archaeological knowledge to modern environmental problems.
* Comparative urban analysis including the nature and role of social theory in archaeology.
The Nature Of Low Density Dispersed Urbanism: A Global View
Roland Fletcher (University of Sydney, NSW, Australia) Palaeoenvironmental Research and the Demise of Angkor.
Dr Dan Penny (University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
Of Heterarchy, Urbanism, And The Maya
Eleanor M. King (Howard University, Washington, D.C. U.S.A) The Khmer Empire’s Impact on the Present-Day Forest of Cambodia.
Dr Heng Thung (Asheville, North Carolina, USA)
Laterally Urban, But Just As Dense: Exploding Some Myths About Maya Cities
Elizabeth Graham (University College London, London, UK) The Historical Water Management of Angkor, Cambodia
Mr Matti Kummu (Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland)
Angkorean Roads Near Phimai And The Hydrological System Of Sukhothai: Remote Sensing And GIS For Archaeological Applications In Thailand
Surat Lertlum Chulachomklao (Royal Military Academy (CRMA), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand) Ritual Technology and Resource Management in Tropical States
Julie L. Kunen (Georgetown University and Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA)
Classic Angkor And Classic Maya Revisited
Michael D. Coe (Yale University, Connecticut, USA) Scale, Structure and the Demise of the ‘Hydraulic City’ at Angkor
Damian Evans (Archaeological Computing Laboratory, Spatial Science Innovation Unit, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia) and Roland Fletcher
Reviving Ancient Water Management Practices In Mesoamerica
Barbara W. Fash (Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) with Karla Davis-Salazar, and William Fash III Ancient Environmental Impact: The Consequences of Incipient Maya Occupation in the Mirador Basin of Northern Guatemala
Richard D. Hansen (Institute of Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles, USA and Foundation for Anthropological Research & Environmental Studies (FARES))
Angkor And Beyond ….
Christophe Pottier (French Institute of East Asian Studies (EFEO), Researcher, Ph. D., Architect DPLG)

Session Time
Day Thursday Date 26th June
Time 9AM-1PM Room Caldwell 109