Raven Garvey and Robert L. Bettinger
Anthropology’s approach to hunter-gatherer ecology and adaptations has changed remarkably from the Enlightenment to the present. Paradigm shifts, turning on the issues of adaptive scale and the degree to which humans are subject to natural selection, have led to descriptions of hunter-gatherer adaptations as, alternately, facile and backward or elegant and forward-thinking. Modern approaches, while still varied, are far less concerned with description, focusing instead on prediction and dynamic causes of culture change, but no less convinced that a modern understanding of human adaptation requires careful study of the hunter-gatherers of the archaeological past and ethnographic present.
Vernon L. Scarborough
Agricultural intensification is the process whereby land-use activity is heightened through an increase in production on a plot. Production can be stimulated by an increase in the amount or kind of labor invested, the incorporation of crops that yield more food or fiber, or the use of a novel technology. In Mesoamerica, few “technological breakthroughs” precipitated change, rather the developmental trajectory for intensification was based on labor allocation and slow advances in the amount of food potentially harvested by an evolving process of plant domestication—principally maize. This article discusses agricultural intensification in West Mexico, Central Highland Mexico, the Valley of Oaxaca, and the Maya lowlands.
Kurt Anschuetz, Eileen L. Camilli, and Christopher D. Banet
The discussion in this chapter is based on the premise that agricultural landscapes are the foundations of the economies, social organizations, and cultural identities of farming communities. It reviews selected archaeological districts between Sonora and the northern Rio Grande in which technologically diverse agricultural features, including trincheras, terraces, rock-bordered grids, gravel mulches, and canals, are well documented. This examination shows that large-scale field complexes, including those dependent on canal irrigation, are widespread throughout the pre-colonial North American Southwest, with some dating to the Late Archaic. Consideration of the Tewa Basin of north-central New Mexico as a case study introduces the idea that shrines are other essential agricultural landscape features, which possess the potential to contribute toward fuller understandings of farming settlement dynamics.
John Peter Oleson and Robert L. Hohlfelder
This article describes the evolution of harbors in the ancient world that can be linked to changing social needs and technological developments. Hundreds of harbor sites of varying sizes and designs can be documented around the Mediterranean dating back thousands of years. Relief sculpture and a few shipwrecks provide ample evidence for the intensity of trade by sea in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age, but the rise in the relative sea level in the eastern Mediterranean since the Bronze Age has obscured or destroyed many of the early harbor sites. Natural anchorages were used throughout the period of Mediterranean history for meeting maritime needs of coastal communities. Hundreds of potential targets await serious archaeological investigation and pose new research questions, which will be answered with further technological developments.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Applied Perspectives on Pre-Columbian Maya Water Management Systems: What are the Insights for Water Security?
Christian Isendahl, Vernon L. Scarborough, Joel D. Gunn, Nicholas P. Dunning, Scott L. Fedick, Gyles Iannone, and Lisa J. Lucero
Water security is a fundamental global challenge for humanity. Suggesting that scholars, water management engineers, and policy-makers draw from a wide range of examples, this chapter argues that knowledge gained from archaeological research provides unique insights into the long-term function and efficacy of water management systems. This chapter presents six cases of water management systems in the pre-Columbian Maya lowlands, from the Yalahau, Puuc-Nohkakab, Petén Karst Plateau, and Belize River Valley subregions, that demonstrate significant variation; a product of the interplay between social, political, and economic factors and hydrological regimes. The analysis suggests four insights relevant for current water security concerns: (1) water management systems are characterized by a diversity of solutions, (2) water scarcity promotes increased management investments that result in long-term vulnerability, (3) water abundance does not require complex management systems but increases the risk for mismanagement, and (4) institutional and technological diversity provide flexibility and greater security.
This chapter begins with a brief discussion of proactive and reactive archaeology. It then explains the need for a strategic approach for wetland archaeology; presents archaeological strategies for wetland landscapes in England and in Europe; and considers the balance between preservation and excavation.
This article reviews archaeological studies in the Nile Delta. It discusses problems of archaeological work in the Delta; previous work in the Delta; current research and survey; survey and recording; and excavation. The Nilotic landscape of Egypt was a fantasy place in the Roman imagination. For the people who lived there, the archaeological remains suggest a vibrant society with new towns springing up to manage the agricultural lands. The old Pharaonic temple cities were reinvigorated as metropoleis, with all of the trappings of Roman life from a monetized economic system to marble statuary brought from Italy, and with industrial areas manufacturing goods for local consumers and visitors.
Carl R. Lounsbury
The major focus of this article happens to be architecture and cultural history. Buildings tell many stories. They are complex material objects wherein we live, work, worship, socialize, and play. They serve basic functions but also embody culture and express the dynamics of its social, economic, and political fortunes. Buildings also communicate their messages by their unusual forms, gigantic scale, or dramatic settings. The vast majority blend together as unconscious backdrops to daily routines. Buildings have life cycles. Most buildings have brief tenures before they are destroyed or fall into ruin. Only a very small number of them survive for long periods to give an historical dimension to the landscape. This article proceeds to explain design sources of architectural structures. From the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, architects in Europe and America found design precedents in the early buildings of their native lands. Buildings are often seen as embodiments of culture.
Over the past twenty years, the topic of agriculture and husbandry has been of rising interest among historians and archaeologists of the ancient Mediterranean, and notably of Roman Egypt. Our knowledge of Roman Egypt's rural life relies heavily on documentary papyri. Their abundance and the wealth of information they contain allow unparalleled insights into the socio-economic life of a Roman province. This article discusses three main issues: agro-fiscal management policies, land use and food production, and religious landscapes. The agro-fiscal management of Roman Egypt was oriented towards the maximization of its agrarian yields and, hence, fiscal revenues. In this regard, particular attention was dedicated to the promotion of agriculturally marginal land, as Mendesian agrarian terminology shows. Overall, the province's agricultural life was mainly dedicated to wheat cultivation.