The Oxford Handbook of Historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology

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Christian Isendahl, Daryl Stump
Oxford University Press, 2019 - Social Science - 618 pages
The Oxford Handbook of Historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology presents theoretical discussions, methodological outlines, and case-studies describing the field of overlap between historical ecology and the emerging sub-discipline of applied archaeology to highlight how modern environments and landscapes have been shaped by humans. Historical ecology is based on the recognition that humans are not only capable of modifying their environments, but that all environments on earth have already been directly or indirectly modified. This includes anthropogenic climate change, widespread deforestations, and species extinctions, but also very local alterations, the effects of which may last a few years, or may have legacies lasting centuries or more.

With contributions from anthropologists, archaeologists, human geographers, and historians, this volume focuses not just on defining human impacts in the past, but on the ways that understanding these changes can help inform contemporary practices and development policies. Some chapters present examples of how ancient or current societies have modified their environments in sustainable ways, while others highlight practices that had unintended long-term consequences. The possibilities of learning from these practices are discussed, as is the potential of using the long history of human resource exploitation as a method for building or testing models of future change.

The volume offers overviews for students, researchers, and professionals with an interest in conservation or development projects who want to understand what practical insights can be drawn from history, and who seek to apply their work to contemporary issues.

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About the author (2019)


Christian Isendahl is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is interested in issues of long-term sustainability and resilience, and applies a historical ecological lens to study urbanism, farming systems, water management, and socio-political organization in the past, particularly in the Maya Lowlands, the Central Andes, and the Amazon Basin. He has a strong interest in exploring, detailing, and discussing how archaeological research can generate knowledge about the past, and about long-term processes that provide practical insights for addressing contemporary challenges.

Daryl Stump has worked as an archaeologist for over 25 years, and has particular research interests in the archaeology of agricultural systems, the later archaeology of East Africa, and in the role of long-term data in assessing the function and sustainability of farming practices. He currently heads the 'Archaeology of Agricultural Resilience in Eastern Africa' project (AAREA), funded by the European Research Council, which is examining the long-term sustainability of two East African agricultural systems (Engaruka in Tanzania and Konso in Ethiopia) through a combination of archaeological, geoarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and modelling techniques.

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