First Farmers, First Farms: Landscape Ecology of the Early Neolithic

Session Type: 
Session Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 08:45 to 12:00
Harvill Hall, Rm. 1
Session Organizer(s): 
Andrew Gillreath-Brown - University of North Texas
R. Kyle Bocinsky - Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

One of the principal ways in which humans interact with their environment is through food procurement, perhaps most intensively in early farming societies. Neolithic farmers dramatically transform local ecologies to meet their needs and yet remain subject to regional, hemispheric, and global-scale climate phenomena. Thus, an understanding of past environments is essential for painting a more complete picture of early Neolithic societies. Papers in this session explore the environmental conditions experienced during the Neolithic worldwide through the lens of landscape ecology—an explicitly geospatial approach that emphasizes environmental heterogeneity and complexity. The authors examine interactions between ecological and anthropogenic processes at multiple scales using state-of-the-art methods including mathematical and computational modelling, advanced GIS applications, paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstructions, soil analysis, zooarchaeology, and paleoethnobotany. Their results are testament to the power of landscape ecology to describe and understand past socioenvironmental processes—processes very likely to be at play in farming societies today.