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Archaeology as Human Ecology
Method and Theory for a Contextual Approach


  • Date Published: August 1982
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521288774

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About the Authors
  • Archaeology as Human Ecology is a new introduction to concepts and methods in archaeology. It deals not with artifacts, but with sites, settlements, and subsistence. Karl W. Butzer's goal is to interpret the ecosystem of which an archaeologicial site or site network was part. Components of this study include geo-archaeology, archaeobotany, zoo-archaeology, and archaeometry. These methods are then used in examining interactions between human communities and their biophysical environment: the impact of settlement on site formation and the effects of subsistence activities on plants, animals, soils, and overall landscape modification. Finally, the methods and theoretical approach, are applied to examine the processes of cultural change and continuity. The approach of Archaeology as Human Ecology goes far beyond traditional environmental archaeology, which is concerned with simple reconstruction. It provides a clear, systemic approach that immediately allows an assessment of interactions. For the first time, it attempts to develop a comprehensive spatial archaeology - one that is far more than derivative spatial analysis.

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… the culmination of a quarter of a century of critical enquiry in the broad borderlands between geography and archaeology. Karl Butzer in this book has shown his pre-eminence in both disciplines.' Geographical Magazine

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 1982
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521288774
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.535kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Perspectives:
    1. Context in archaeology
    2. Environmental systems: spatial and temporal variability
    Part II. Foundations:
    3. Geo-archaeology I: basic principles
    4. Geo-archaeology II: landscape context
    5. Geo-archaeology III: stratigraphic context
    6. Geo-archaeology IV: site formation
    7. Geo-archaeology V: site modification and destruction
    8. Geo-archaeology VI: human impact on the landscape
    9. Archaeometry: prospecting, provenance, dating
    10. Archaeobotany: vegetation and plant utilization
    11. Zoo-archaeology: faunas and animal procurement
    Part III. Synthesis:
    12. Spatial integration I: quantitative models for pattern analysis
    13. Spatial integration II: socioecological models for settlement analysis
    14. Spatial integration III: reconstruction of settlement systems
    15. Diachronic systems I: cultural adaptation
    16. Diachronic systems II: continuity and change

  • Author

    Karl W. Butzer, University of Chicago

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