Human–environment interactions in the development of early Chinese civilization
George Rapp, Zhichun Jing, 2011. "Human–environment interactions in the development of early Chinese civilization", Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective, L. Wilson
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Beginning with the earliest organized habitation sites the options provided by the regional environment have largely or partially governed the location and relocation of human settlements. The settlement system in second millennium BCE Henan Province, China, evolved during a period of significant climatic change and shifting river courses but relative soil stability. Human–environment interactions across the landscape have left ample remains for investigation by scholars of social and cultural change and by natural scientists. The social effects of climate and geomorphological change during this period are complex and only partially understood. It is well documented that long-term soil stability before and during the second millennium BCE gave rise to the development of good agricultural soils, without which population expansion probably could not have taken place. This paper summarizes some of the recent research in climate change and, from two of our own projects, in geomorphology and ecology that underlie environmental impacts on the evolving state-level societies, especially related to settlement location and relocation. For example, the Shang possibly relocated one or more capital sites in response to disastrous floods.
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Human impact on our environment is not a new phenomenon. 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. Geoarchaeology studies the traces of human interactions with the geosphere and provides the key to recognizing landscape and environmental change, human impacts and the effects of environmental change on human societies. This collection of papers from around the world includes case studies and broader reviews covering the time period since before modern human beings came into existence up until the present day. To understand ourselves, we need to understand that our world is constantly changing, and that change is dynamic and complex. Geoarchaeology provides an inclusive and long-term view of human–geosphere interactions and serves as a valuable aid to those who try to determine sustainable policies for the future.