Reassessing Hypsithermal human–environment interaction on the Northern Plains
Elizabeth C. Robertson, 2011. "Reassessing Hypsithermal human–environment interaction on the Northern Plains", Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective, L. Wilson
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Palaeoenvironmental records from the Northern Plains of North America attest to an extended period of Middle Holocene warming and drying, making this a useful region and period for research on long-term human response to marked climate change. However, archaeological perspectives on human–environment interaction during this episode have remained preoccupied with a refugial model that incorporates limited latitude for dynamic human adaptation. In part, this situation reflects the challenging geomorphological and typological obstacles faced by those studying this period. However, this paper argues that our failure to develop new perspectives also reflects a longstanding and continued conservatism that casts Northern Plains lifeways as inflexible and unchanging, rather than dynamic and adaptable.
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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.