Constructing Agricultural Frames of Reference: An Example from Highland Southwest China

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 11:45
d'Alpoim Guedes
, Jade - Washington State University
, Kyle - Crow Canyon

The need to construct locally and historically contingent models of food resources was a central concern of “New Archaeology”. However, data and computational limitations meant that archaeologists were unable to go beyond describing coarse patterns of effective temperature, rainfall and net primary production on a global scale. Advances in ecology and computational modeling mean that archaeologists have at their disposition new computational tools and big data that allow us to build frames of reference with a higher level of spatial and temporal precision. This paper describes the creation of ecological niche models for predicting the constraints placed on ancient agriculturalists as they moved crops outside of their homelands of domestication. Using the highland southwest China as a test case, describe how the use of these models has elucidated the reasons underlying a major transition in subsistence regimes during the second millennium cal. BC.