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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeologists are increasingly used to producing and synthesizing multidisciplinary data, particularly where threats to environmental conservation and subsistence have led to calls for applied research. This chapter explores how environmental, geoarchaeological, and historical information can help us understand the long-term impact of farming in northern Ethiopia. Here, the expansion of farming communities and, later, the rise of the kingdom of Aksum (first millennium AD) are thought to have set this region onto the road of environmental degradation. This narrative of cultural-environmental history has informed modern understandings of Ethiopian landscapes and peoples. However, new information extracted from buried soils (soil micromorphology), plant microfossils (phytoliths), and travel accounts indicate prolonged settlement and landscape stability until recent times. The resulting new narrative offers an opportunity to discuss the challenges of translating knowledge of the past into applied research.

Keywords: farming, landscape, geoarchaeology, soil micromorphology, phytoliths, Ethiopia

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