Human Ecology pp 109-125 | Cite as

Tracking the Carbon Footprint of Paleolithic Societies in Mediterranean Ecosystems

  • Mary C. Stiner
  • Steven L. Kuhn


There can be no question that the rise of agricultural economies some 10,000 years ago redefined humans’ relationship with nature. Such economies greatly amplified the potential of human cultural behavior to reshape ecosystems. Yet the earliest demonstrable impacts of humans on animal and plant communities - and on the nature and resilience of coupled human and natural systems - are traceable to Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers some 45,000 years ago or earlier (Tchernov 1992b) (Fig. 1). Sometime during the late Pleistocene epoch, more or less concomitant with the spread of anatomically modern Homo sapiens beyond Africa and the Levant, we see the evolution of novel technological and social mechanisms for buffering or redistributing environmental risk. These developments have resulted in permanent changes in human demographic potentials and the carrying capacities of a wide variety of habitats throughout Eurasia. Even quite early in this period, there is evidence that human foragers affected the relative abundance of prey species and biotic community composition more generally.


Prey Population Small Prey Early Hominid Spotted Hyena Paleolithic Diet 
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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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Anthropology, University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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