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.
Ruth M. Van Dyke
In the southwest United States, high altitudes, open vistas, and cloudless skies create a visual atmosphere where the light is legendary. I focus on the role of light for the people of Chaco Canyon—a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage centre in the San Juan Basin of northwest New Mexico. Here, worldviews and cosmologies involved the dualistic juxtaposition of light and dark, visible and invisible, sun and moon. The movements of celestial bodies in a clear sky, and the presence of open sightlines with distinctive peaks, contributed to the creation of a complex cosmography. Sun and moon, visibility and invisibility, light and darkness opposed one another and revolved around Chaco Canyon—the centre of the ancient Chacoan world.
C. R. Wickham-Jones
The coast is the area where marine processes such as erosion, deposition, and storm surge influence terrestrial processes and vice versa. This article introduces the concept of coastal archaeology as a growth field for maritime archaeology in terms of the data that can be gathered and also as a realm for the development of archaeological theory. Terrestrial and underwater archaeology, combined and connected by coastal archaeology, allow for a fully developed maritime archaeology. This article illustrates the history and development of coastal archaeology and highlights coastal archaeology as a facet of maritime archaeology. It gives information on the theory and the method of coastal archaeology. The data gathered from coastal archaeology answers a lot of questions about maritime cultures. It bridges the gap between underwater archaeology and terrestrial archaeology, therefore is an important aspect to be studied to understand maritime archaeology.
In ancient Greek thought, Hades constitutes, inter alia, the incarnation of the invisible— an apparent contradiction of efforts to represent the dark kingdom of the lord of dead. After a brief review of the special vocabulary, imagery, and connotations associated with darkness in poetic and philosophical thinking, this chapter investigates the main devices used in mythic narratives as well as in real religious topography to insinuate darkness and invisibility. An astute use of natural landscape features and architectural elements, such as natural or artificial chasms, narrow passages, cloudy atmosphere, shadowing, and reflective effects tries to anticipate the features of the Otherworld and/or to permit a protected, although slightly distorted, view of the unseeable. Particular emphasis is given to the role of caves and ever-flowing rivers and streams, but also of still water of pools and lakes, an element which acquires an increasing importance from the classical period onwards.
This article explores the idea of cultural landscapes. The term ‘cultural landscape’ is widely recognized as a description of a region of the earth that has been transformed by human action. This article explores the history of the idea of cultural landscapes, focusing on two dichotomies. The first is the dichotomy between materiality and symbolism; from highly material beginnings in the early twentieth century, the second is the dichotomy between nature and culture, concepts treated as oppositional for much of this history. It then examines some of the geographic differences, with particular attention to Australian and Scandinavian examples. The next section explores what happens when the cultural landscape idea itself becomes materialized, in the form of land and heritage management frameworks. The final section presents a recent critique of the cultural landscape concept and asks whether it is possible to go beyond the dichotomies, and whether the concept retains any usefulness.
Diversification and Cultural Construction of a Crop: The Case of Glutinous Rice and Waxy Cereals in the Food Cultures of Eastern Asia
Dorian Q. Fuller and Cristina Castillo
Rice (Oryza) is one of the world’s most important and productive staple foods, with highly diverse uses and varieties. We use archaeobotany, culture, history, and ethnobotany to trace the history of the development of sticky (or glutinous) forms. True sticky rice is the result of a genetic mutation that causes a loss of amylose starch but higher amylopectin content. These mutations are unknown in wild populations but have become important amongst cultivars in East and Southeast Asia (unlike other regions). In the same region, other cereals have also evolved parallel mutations that confer stickiness when cooked. This points to a strong role for cultural history and food preparation traditions in the genetic selection and breeding of Asian cereal varieties. The importance of sticky rice in ritual foods and alcoholic beverages in East and Southeast Asia also suggests the entanglement of crop varieties and culturally inherited food traditions and ritual symbolism.
Emily McClung de Tapia
Ecological thinking applied to archaeological problems has evolved considerably over the past two decades. This article examines some of the perspectives that have developed in Mesoamerican archaeology and what the future may hold. Two significant developments have emerged in response to many of the difficulties associated with ecologically oriented research problems. One reflects a movement away from equilibrium models in ecology toward nonlinear dynamic models of systems and interactions among variables within the system. The other refers to the various ways in which this paradigm shift has played out in anthropology and archaeology. New approaches to the study of human-natural relations include the emphasis on complex adaptive systems within the framework of resilience theory and what has been called historical ecology, which also incorporates some of the fundamental concepts associated with dynamic systems in ecology. While neither of these perspectives has had a significant impact in Mesoamerican archaeology as yet, they provide useful tools for visualizing complex relationships in a historical perspective, based on local and regional developments.
Sarah Whatmore and Steve Hinchliffe
This article sets out to unsettle some of the most taken for granted co-ordinates of landscapes in general and cities in particular that, if nothing else, we are safe in assuming them to be exclusively human achievements. Ecological landscapes are the focus of this article. It begins by exploring recent geographical thinking about ecological landscapes worked through diverse conversations with other disciplines — notably anthropology, and science and technology studies. Here the article highlights developments in the broad areas of phenomenology, affect, and biophilosophy in order to describe some key shifts in cultural geography's handling of materiality. Through this engagement with ecological landscapes and urban natures, the main aim of this article is to demonstrate the importance of reconsidering materials less as the passive stuff of which landscapes are made and more as energetic constituents in their fabrication. The second part explores the implications of such perspectives about new urban ecologies and landscaping practices.
This chapter examines the question of spatiality/spatial structure in rock art by focusing on European Upper Palaeolithic art, commonly known as cave art. More specifically, it considers the existence of structural principles, both physical and mental, important in understanding the artists’ ways of thinking. After discussing the role of the landscape in rock art, the chapter explains how Palaeolithic peoples of Europe dealt with a wide range of spatial choices and possibilities: for example, when a site was chosen as appropriate for artworks, or whether people developed one or more spatial models that they would apply or adapt to their chosen sites. It provides evidence showing that Upper Palaeolithic peoples held beliefs and customs that were reflected in the nature and structure of the paintings, engravings, and carvings that they created in hopes of establishing contact with the spirit world and deriving benefits from such connections.
This chapter addresses the issues faced by wet site excavators, which include issues associated with dewatering; sampling and data management; and the excavation, maintenance, and transportation of finds. It argues that wet-site potentials are phenomenal, and can capture the archaeologist's and the public's imagination faster than almost any other kind of site. This can lead to very real opportunities for site visitation and should be viewed as a positive educational opportunity, but one that needs to be planned for.