Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Environmental Reconstruction in Archaeological Science

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_332

Introduction

Environments are the totality of biological and physical variables that impinge upon an organism. Most archaeological research requires some knowledge of the environmental contexts in which humans or our ancestors made decisions, performed activities, and engaged with each other and their surrounding world. Therefore, many, if not most, archaeologists require some knowledge of past environments to address questions about past societies.

Whether driven by climate, population dynamics, disturbances, or other agents, environments are constantly changing, thereby altering organism-environment relationships. Humans and other organisms may alter properties of their environments through their decisions, movements, consumption, and other behaviors. Such alterations can have long-term evolutionary legacies (Odling-Smee et al. 2003). To disentangle these relationships and understand their consequences, archaeologists must take advantage of environmental reconstructions.

Definition

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Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Kacy L. Hollenback for detailed comments on this entry.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA