Introduction to Environmental Archaeology

  • Elizabeth J. Reitz
  • Myra Shackley
Part of the Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique book series (MATT)


The human past cannot be understood without integrating the full range of evidence contained within archaeological sites and recognizing that cultural systems are inextricably linked to their environments. This realization stimulates systematic applications of scientific methods to support broad interpretations of long-term changes in both human behaviors and the environments within which they occur. Insights into cultures and environments contribute to studies of the Holocene epoch (beginning ca. 10000 bp or 8000 bc) as well as to our present and future lives. Climate, weather, and geology are basic to soil fertility, vegetation, and the economic potential of landscapes. Studies of these and related phenomena emphasize different aspects of relationships among individuals, cultural institutions, and environments. Human behavior and archaeological sites must be interpreted within such broad contexts. In this chapter, some perspectives that inform models of environmental change and stasis and human–environmental relationships are presented, along with commonly used ecological concepts and a summary of environmental archaeology’s diverse research interests.


Human Behavior Archaeological Site Archaeological Record Cultural Institution Human Remains 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Reitz
    • 1
  • Myra Shackley
    • 2
  1. 1.Georgia Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Nottingham Business SchoolNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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