The role of geoarchaeology in extending our perspective
Specialists and the general public alike are very aware of human impacts on our environment. Climate change, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and other topics are currently much in the news, but human influence on the environment is not a new phenomenon. Geoarchaeologists study the traces of human interactions with the geosphere dating back to ancient times, as well as up to and in the present. Geoarchaeological investigations provide the key to recognizing landscape and environmental change within a region, as well as reconstructing ancient landscapes and palaeoclimatic regimes. Such an interdisciplinary approach makes it possible to interpret the ways that humans affect the geosphere, through such things as subsistence and resource exploitation activities, settlement location, and local and regional land-use patterns. This approach also allows us to determine the effects of environmental change on human societies. For millennia, humans have been coping with, or provoking, environmental change. We have exploited, extracted, over-used but also in many cases nurtured the resources that the geosphere offers. In the geoarchaeological perspective, human life has never been separate from nature. Geoarchaeology can thus provide a more inclusive and longer-term view of human–geosphere interactions, and serve as a valuable aid to those who try to determine sustainable policies for the future.