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Environment and Landscapes of Latin America’s Past

  • Vernon L. ScarboroughEmail author
  • Christian Isendahl
  • Samantha Fladd
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 11)

Abstract

The landscapes and natural environments within the tropics and their wet-dry forests were the setting for a particular understanding of modern ecological principles. Initiated by Alexander von Humboldt and fundamentally altered theoretically by Charles Darwin, contemporary views of coupled human-nature dynamics were first “discovered” in the New World. Unlike the prominent worldview identifiable in the Near East and subsequently in early colonizing Europe in which “man must have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28), Central and South America settings show the inextricable affinity between humanity and the slowly modified biogeography. Clearly denudation did occur, but it was never on the scale practiced in the West. Technological thresholds and breakthroughs seldom accelerated through time; and the role of labor in an environment without widespread domesticated animals and zoonotic diseases made a different ecological emphasis and a worldview that cultivated the role of plants, animals, and their interplay. The domestication process was markedly different than in the Old World West, whose worldview less honored and preserved the greater environs.

Keywords

Archaeology Landscape alteration Historical ecology Cooperative aggregation New World 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Scarborough wishes to thank the Pre-Columbian Studies Division at Dumbarton Oaks (DO) in Washington, DC, for providing the forum for developing this piece. At the invitation of DO and the Museo del Oro (Bogota), an abbreviate presentation of this material was given by Scarborough in Bogota, Colombia, on March 22, 2018.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vernon L. Scarborough
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Isendahl
    • 2
  • Samantha Fladd
    • 3
  1. 1.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Crow Canyon Archaeological CenterCortezUSA

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