Growing the Ancient Maya Social-Ecological System from the Bottom Up

Scott Heckbert, Christian Isendahl, Simon Brewer, Vernon Scarborough, Arlen Chase, Diane Chase, Nicholas Dunning, Robert Costanza, Timothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, David Lentz, Paul Sinclair

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    This volume presents theoretical discussions, methodological outlines, and case-studies describing the discursive overlap of the theoretical and methodological framework of historical ecology, and the emerging sub-discipline of applied archaeology. 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. The volume presents a range of case-studies that highlight how modern environments and landscapes have been shaped by humans, and includes outlines of the methods we can use to better understand these changes. Authors include anthropologists, archaeologists, human geographers, and historians, all of whom are focussed 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 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 possibility 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. Rather than merely acting as advocates for historical data, the chapters collected here also warn of the limitations of drawing simple lessons from the history of interactions between humans and their environments, and note that doing so is potentially just as damaging as ignoring these rich sources of data
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology
    EditorsChristian Isendahl and Daryl Stump
    Place of PublicationOxford UK
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780199672691
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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