The Human–Animal Experience in Deep Historical Perspective

  • Todd J. BrajeEmail author


A variety of academics, including archaeologists, geographers, ecologists, historians, political scientists, philosophers, and others, have been critical of the notion of “pristine, natural, or wild” areas, arguing that human impacts on environments have been widespread over millennia (Frazier, 2009). While study of human impacts on the environment is vast and extends back to the nineteenth century (see Grayson, 1984), over the last several decades it has become increasingly apparent that ancient human populations exerted a significant influence on local environments, including impacts to a wide array of plant and animal communities (e.g., Grayson, 2001; Krech, 1999, 2005; Redman, 1999; Rick & Erlandson, 2009). Debates over the nature and scale of these impacts and whether prehistoric groups acted as conservationists (see Alcorn, 1993, 1996; Krech, 2005) or with little regard for preservation and sustainability (see Kay & Simmons, 2002a; Sluyter, 2001; Smith & Wishnie, 2000) have been hotly contested. Regardless, it has become clear, to archaeologists at least, that as Europeans expanded around the globe, the indigenous landscapes and plant and animal communities they encountered were the result of millennia of human manipulations.


Animal Community Faunal Community Shell Midden Northern Elephant Seal Urchin Barren 
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.



This paper was substantially improved by conversations with Robert DeLong, Jon Erlandson, Douglas Kennett, and Torben Rick. I thank Chris Blazina, David Shen-Miller, and Güler Boyraz for inviting me to participate in this volume and for their constructive comments on an earlier version of this chapter. Any error of fact or omissions, however, are solely my responsibility.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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