Spring 2014 | Archaeology 1870
Rhode Island Hall Room 008 | MWF 2:00-2:50
How are our lives shaped by the environment around us? And, as scientists argue about whether or not we've entered a new age called "The Anthropocene", how great an impact have humans really made on the environment, from prehistory right up until today? This course will consider the complexities of human-environment interactions using a diachronic and comparative perspective only possible through an archaeological lens. It will explore the ecological relationships between people, animals, and plants in the past and discuss the implications of these dynamic relationships an increasingly globalized world.
Instructor: Suzanne Pilaar Birch
Office Phone: (401) 863-2306
Office Hours: Rhode Island Hall Room 210, MW 3-4
Env Arch Final Syllabus.pdf
Environmental Archaeology: Principles and Practice, Dena F. Dincauze (2000)
All other readings will be posted on the course wiki [link] and should be completed before class on that day.
Grading and Assignments:
The course meets three times per week for 50 minutes. Usually, each week will consist of two lectures and one practical (during Part 2, Methods) or seminar (during Part 3, Interpretation). Attendance is important and practical worksheets and seminar presentations will form a substantial percentage (25%) of your final grade.
Other graded components of the course include one short topical paper (4-5 pages, double spaced) and a longer research paper that synthesizes two or more types of environmental archaeology data (3,000 words for undergraduates, 8-10,000 words for graduate students); no late papers will be accepted without prior approval. There will be a final exam. Your final grade will be determined as follows:
Participation (includes practical and seminar assignments): 25%
Short paper: 20%
Research paper: 35%
Final exam: 20%
This course may be taken as satisfactory/no credit (S/NC). Students requesting this grading option must complete all course requirements to receive a grade of satisfactory.
Student and Employee Accessibility Services Please inform me if you have a disability or other condition that might require some modification of any of these course procedures. You may speak with me after class or during office hours. For more information contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services (SEAS) at 401-863-9588 or SEAS@brown.edu
Libraries Our subject librarian is Ian Straughn (Ian_Straughn@brown.edu). You can contact him with any research or library-related questions.
Part 1 Introduction
Week 1 Environmental Archaeology
01/22 Lecture People and environments: an introduction to environmental archaeology
01/24 Lecture Geography, climate, and ecology
- “Introduction to environmental archaeology” by Elizabeth J. Reitz, Lee A. Newsom, Sylvia J. Scudder, and C. Margaret Scarry, in Case Studies in Environmental Archaeology, 2nd ed., pp. 3-13
01/27 Lecture What is environmental archaeology?
01/29 Lecture Archaeological science: methods and techniques
01/31 Lecture Taphonomy and site formation processes
- Environmental Archaeology, pp. 3-35, 36-79, 139-162
- The Economy of Nature, by Robert E. Ricklefs, 4th ed., pp. 1-25
- Zooarchaeology, by Elizabeth J. Reitz and Elizabeth S. Wing, 2nd ed., pp. 88-116
Part 2 Methods
Week 3 Geomorphology and geoarchaeology I
02/03 Lecture Soils
02/05 Lecture Landscapes
02/07 Practical Local geology
- Environmental Archaeology, pp. 257-319, pp. 193-250
Week 4 Geomorphology and geoarchaeology II
02/10 Lecture Stratigraphy
02/12 Lecture Micromorphology
02/14 Practical From GIS to micromorph: applications of geoarchaeology
- Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology, by Paul Goldberg and Richard I. Macphail, pp. 11-27, 42-71, pp. 72-150
Week 5 Archaeobotany I
02/17 NO CLASS
02/19 Lecture Seeds and paleoethnobotany
02/21 Lecture The importance of charcoal
- Paleoethnobotany, by Deborah M. Pearsall, 2nd ed., pp. 99-153
- “Selective quantitative measurements in paleoethnobotany” by Virginia S. Popper, in Current Paleoethnobotany, pp. 53-71
- “Ratios in paleoethnobotanical analysis” by Naomi F. Miller, in Current Paleoethnobotany, pp. 72-85
- “Environmental interpretation of archaeological charcoal” by Tristine L. Smart and Ellen S. Hoffman, in Current Paleoethnobotany, pp. 167-205
- “Reconstructing woodland vegetation and its exploitation by past societies, based on the analysis and interpretation of archaeological wood charcoal macro-fossils” by Eleni Asouti and Phil Austin, Environmental Archaeology 10:1-18.
Week 6 Archaeobotany II
02/24 Lecture Pollen counts in archaeobotany
02/26 Lecture Making the invisible, visible: phytoliths and starch grains
02/28 Practical Applications of archaeobotany in the field and lab
- Environmental Archaeology, pp. 343-368
- Paleoethnobotany, by Deborah M. Pearsall, 2nd ed., pp. 178-182, 249-353
- Phytoliths, by Dolores R. Piperno, pp. 1-44
- Paleoethnobotany, by Deborah M. Pearsall, 2nd ed., pp. 11-65
- Watch videos at http://archaeobotany.googlepages.com/
Week 7 Zooarchaeology I
03/03 Lecture Animals and environments
03/05 Lecture Another story: the value of microfauna in zooarchaeologicalstudies
03/07 Practical Working with faunal remains
- Environmental Archaeology, pp. 411-467, pp. 468-488
- Zooarchaeology, by Elizabeth J. Reitz and Elizabeth S. Wing, 2nd ed., pp. 117-181, 316-334, pp. 251-315
- Butler, V.L. 1993. Natural versus cultural salmonid remains: origin of the Dalles Roadcut bones, Columbia River, Oregon, USA. Journal of Archaeological Science20:1-24.
- Van Neer, W. & A.M. Muniz. 1992. Fish Middens: anthropogenic accumulations of fish remains and their bearing of archaeoichthyological analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 18: 579-603.
- Eastman, A. 1997. The potential of bird remains for environmental reconstruction International Journal of Osteoarchaeology7: 422-429
- Serjeantson, D. 1997. Subsistence and symbol: the interpretation of bird remains in archaeology. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7: 255-259
Week 8 Zooarchaeology II
03/10 Lecture “To Everything There is a Season”: The seasonal use of animals in prehistory its implications for environmental archaeology
03/12 Lecture The process of domestication and its consequences
03/14 Practical Faunal assemblages from recovery to interpretation
- Carter, R.J. 1998. Reassessment of seasonality at the early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, Yorkshire based on radiogrpahs of mandibular tooth development in red deer (Cervus elaphus). Journal of Archaeological Science25: 851-856
- Monks, G. G., 1981, Seasonality Studies, in M.B. Schiffer (ed): pp. 177–240.
- Davis, S. 1987. The Archaeology of Animals. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Chapter 4, In what season was a site occupied?) (pp. 75-90).
- Crabtree, P.J. 1993. Early animal domestication in the Middle East and Europe, in M.B. Schiffer (ed.), Archaeological Method and Theory Volume 5: 201-245. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
- Legge, T. 1996. The beginning of caprine domestication in Southwest Asia, in D.R. Harris (ed.), The Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia:238-262. London: UCL Press.
- Price, E.O. 1999. Behavioural development in animals undergoing domestication. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 65: 252-271.
- Pringle, H. 1998. Reading the signs of ancient animal domestication. Science 282: 1448-1450.
Week 9 Human Osteology and Molecular Studies
03/17 Lecture Human osteology and paleopathology
03/19 Lecture Stable isotopes and human diet
03/21 Practical Reconciling osteological and biomolecular data
- Skeletons in Our Closet: Revealing Our Past through 'Bioarchaeology, by Clark S. Larsen, pp. 65-120
- Paleoethnobotany, by Deborah M. Pearsall, 2nd ed., pp. 520-578
- “Bone Chemistry and Paleodiet” by Donald F. Pate, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 1:161-209
- “Using nitrogen-isotopes to study weaning behavior in past populations” by Mark R. Schurr, World Archaeology 30:327-342
03/24-03/28 NO CLASS-SPRING BREAK
Part 3: Interpretation
Week 11 Climate and Environmental Change
03/31 Lecture Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
04/02 Lecture Environmental contexts and reconstruction
04/04 Seminar Case Study: The Younger Dryas and the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition
- Environmental Archaeology, pp. 163-191, 369-408;
- The Holocene: An Environmental History, by Neil Roberts, 2nd ed., pp. 9-54, pp. 56-126
- “A Paleoindian response to Younger Dryas climate change” by Paige Newby et al., Quaternary Science Reviews 24:141–154
Week 12 Human Ecology and Mobility
04/07 Lecture Hunter-gathers, foraging ecology, and the Broad Spectrum Revolution
04/09 Lecture Forager, farmer, pastoralist, nomad: what’s in a name?
04/11 Seminar Case Study: Central Asia
- Demography in Archaeology, by Andrew Chamberlain, pp. 1- 24, 81-132; “No room to move: mobility, settlement and conflict among mobile peoples” by Roger L. Cribb, in The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, pp. 543-556; “NOMAD: An agent based model (ABM) of pastoralist-agriculturalist interaction” by Lawrence
- Kuznar and Robert Sedlmeyer, in The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, pp. 557-583
- “Variability and dynamic landscapes of mobile pastoralism in ethnography and prehistory” by Michael D. Frachetti, in The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, pp. 366-396;
- “Mobility and sedentism of the Iron Age agropastoralists of Southeast Kazakhstan” by Claudia Chang, in The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism, pp. 329-342
- “Ancient inner Asian nomads: their economic basis and its significance in Chinese history” by Nicola Di Cosmo, The Journal of Asian Studies, 53:1092-1126
Week 13 Agriculture
04/14 Lecture Human diet and agriculture
04/16 Lecture The effects of agriculture and land use
04/18 Seminar Case Study: Long-term landscape change in the Mediterranean
- “Low-level food production” by Bruce Smith, Journal of Archaeological Research 9:1-43
- “An evolutionary ecology perspective on diet choice, risk, and plant domestication” by Bruce Winterhalder and Carol Goland, in People, Plants, and Landscapes: Studies in Paleoethnobotany, pp. 123-160
- “A holistic approach to examining ancient agriculture” by Alexia Smith and Natalie D. Munro, Current Anthropology 50:925-936
- “The farmed and the hunted: integrating floral and faunal data from Tres Zapotes, Veracruz” by Tanya M. Peres, Amber M. VanDerwarker, and Christopher A. Pool, in Integrating Zooarchaeology and Paleoethnobotany, pp. 281-308
- Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology, by Paul Goldberg and Richard I. Macphail, pp. 193-210
- Human Impact on Ancient Environments, by Charles L. Redman, pp. 53-126
- “Environmental history in the Mediterranean world: crossdisciplinary investigation of cause-and-effect for degradation and soil erosion” by Karl W. Butzer, Journal of Archaeological Science 32:1773- 1800
Week 14 The Future from the Past: Applications of Environmental Archaeology
04/21 Lecture Culture contact and the modern era
04/23 Lecture Implications of environmental archaeology for the future
04/25 Final Review
- An Environmental History of the World, by J. Donald Hughes, 2nd ed., pp. 154-186 “Sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, California” by Gerrit Schoups et al., PNAS 102:15352-15356
- “The power of the past: environment, Aborigines, archaeology, and a sustainable Australian society” by Tim Murray, in Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire, pp. 299-329
- The Holocene: An Environmental History, by Neil Roberts, pp. 208-242
- “Who ate what? Archaeological food remains and cultural diversity” by Elizabeth M. Scott, in Case Studies in Environmental Archaeology, 2nd ed., pp. 357-374
- “Daily practice and material culture in pluralistic social settings: an archaeological study of culture change and persistence from Fort Ross, California” by Kent G. Lightfoot, Antoinette Martinez, and Ann M. Schiff, American Antiquity 63:199-222
FINAL EXAM: Date TBA