Environmental Archaeology: What Is in a Name?

  • Evangelia Pişkin
  • Marta Bartkowiak
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


Despite its long history, environmental archaeology today still remains beyond the unambiguous classification. This broad, capacious term is some kind of label or banner, under which different researchers undertake their studies. Definitions of it vary significantly from being a list of encompassing subdisciplines, a set of analytical techniques within archaeological science, a discipline between two realms that of science and the other of humanities concerned with the reconstruction of past environment and the interaction between human populations and that environment. We do not aspire to find or even suggest a new definition, but we would rather ask about the essence of this discipline. Hence, the aim of this short drawing is to outline the area for discussion by briefly reminding the history of environmental studies and presenting its contemporary face.


Environmental archaeology Mainstream archaeology Integration Divide Research agenda 


  1. Aiello, L. C. (2006). The descent of man. In C. Renfew & P. Bahn (Eds.), Archaeology. The key concept (pp. 70–75). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Albarella, U. (2001). Environmental archaeology: Meaning and purpose. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Behrensmeyer, A. K., & Hill, A. (1980). Fossils in the making. Chicago: University Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Binford, L. R. (1962). Archaeology as anthropology. American Antiquity, 11, 198–200.Google Scholar
  5. Binford, L. R. (1968). Archaeological perspectives. In R. Binford & L. R. Binford (Eds.), New perspectives in archaeology (pp. 5–32). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  6. Braidwood, R. J. (1960). The agricultural revolution. Scientific American, 203, 130–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braje, T. J. (2015). Earth systems, human agency and the anthropocene: Planet earth in the human age. Journal of Archaeological Research, 23(4), 369–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, T. A., & Brown, K. (2011). Biomolecular archaeology: An introduction. Oxford: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruno, M. C., & Sayre, M. P. (2017). Social paleoethnobotany: New contributions to archaeological theory and practice. In M. P. Sayre & M. C. Bruno (Eds.), Social perspectives on ancient lives from paleothnobotanical data (pp. 1–13). Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.Google Scholar
  10. Butzer, K. W. (1971). Environment and archeology: An ecological approach to prehistory. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  11. Butzer, K. W. (1982). Archaeology as human ecology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Campana, D., Crabtree, P., de France, S. D., Lev-Tov, J., & Choyke, A. (2010). Anthropological approaches to zooarchaeology. Complexity, colonialism, and animal transformations. Oxford/Oakville: Oxbow books.Google Scholar
  13. Chambers, F. M. (2013). Environmental archaeology. In J. A. Mathews (Ed.), Encyclopedia of environmental change: Three volume set (pp. 341–342). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Chase, A. F., Chase, D. Z., & Teeter, W. G. (2004). Archaeology, faunal analysis and interpretation: Lessons from Maya Studies. Archaeofauna, 13, 11–18.Google Scholar
  15. Clark, G. (1952). Prehistoric Europe: The economic basis. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  16. Clark, G. (1954). Excavations at Star Carr: An early mesolithic site at seamer near Scarborough, Yorkshire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, J. G. D. (1972). Star carr: A case study in bioarchaeology. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Modular Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Clarke, D. (1977). Spatial archaeology. Boston: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Coles, G. (ed.) (1995). The teaching of environmental archaeology in higher education in the U.K., Working Papers of the Association for Environmental Archaeology 1, Association for Environmental Archaeology, York.Google Scholar
  20. Colledge, S. (2016). The cultural evolution of neolithic europe. EUROEVOL Dataset 3: Archaeobotanical data. Journal of Open Archaeology Data, 5, e1. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Colledge, S., Conolly, J., Dobney, K., Manning, K., & Shennan, S. J. (2013). The origins and spread of domestic animals in Southwest Asia and Europe. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  22. Conolly, J., Colledge, S., Dobney, K., Vigne, J. D., Peters, J., Stopp, B., Manning, K., & Shennan, S. (2011). Meta-analysis of zooarchaeological data from SW Asia and SE Europe provides insight into the origins and spread of animal husbandry. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(3), 538–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of the species by natural selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  24. Delcourt, H. R., & Declourt, P. A. (1999). Quaternary ecology: A paleoecological perspective. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  25. Dimbleby, G. W. (1978). Plants and archaeology. London: John Baker.Google Scholar
  26. Dimbleby, G. W. (1985). The palynology of archaeological sites. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Dincauze, D. F. (2000). Environmental archaeology: Principles and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Efremov, J. A. (1940). Taphonomy: A new branch of paleontology. Pan-American Geologist, LXXIV, 2, 81–93.Google Scholar
  29. Emiliani, C. (1954). Depth habitats of some species of pelagic foraminifera as indicated by oxygen isotope ratios. American Journal of Science, 252, 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Erickson, C., & Candler, K. L. (1989). Raised fields and sustainable agriculture in the Lake Titicaca basin. In J. Browder (Ed.), Fragile lands of Latin America: Strategies for sustainable development (pp. 230–248). Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  31. Evans, J. G. (2003). Environmental archaeology and the social order. London\New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Evans, J. G., & O’Connor, T. (1999). Environmental archaeology: Principles and methods. Stroud: Sutton Pub Limited.Google Scholar
  33. Evenari, M., Shanan, L., Tadmor, N., & Aharoni, Y. (1961). Ancient agriculture in the Negev. Science New Series, 133(3457), 979–996.Google Scholar
  34. Fairbairn, A. (2005). An appraisal of environmental archaeology in Australia. Association for Environmental Archaeology Newsletter, 90, 11–13.Google Scholar
  35. Gibbs, L. (1987). Identifying gender representation in the archaeological record: A contextual study. In I. Hodder (Ed.), The archaeology of contextual meanings (pp. 79–89). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hagget, P., & Charley, R. J. (1969). Network analysis in human geography. London: Edwin Arnold.Google Scholar
  37. Hammond, N. (1972). Locational models and the site of Lubaantun: A classic Maya center. In D. L. Clarke (Ed.), Models in archaeology (pp. 757–800). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  38. Hartman, S. (2017). Medieval Iceland, Greenland, and the new human condition: A case study in integrated environmental humanities. Global and Planetary Change. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Haviland, W. A., Walrath, D., Prins, H. E., & McBride, B. (2013). Evolution and prehistory: The human challenge. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  40. Hawkes, C. (1968). The research laboratory: Its beginning. Archaeometry, 28(2), 131–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hodder, I. (1972). Locational models and the study of Romano-British settlement. In D. L. Clarke (Ed.), Models in archaeology (pp. 887–909). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  42. Hodder, I. (1986). Reading the past: Current approaches to interpretation in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ingold, T. (1996). Growing plants and raising animals: An anthropological perspective on domestication. In D. Harris (Ed.), The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism (pp. 12–24). London: University College London Press.Google Scholar
  44. Iversen, J. (1941). Landnam in Danmarks stenalder: En pollenanalytisk undersøgelse over det første landbrugs indvirking paa vegetationsudviklingen. Reitzel [in Komm.].Google Scholar
  45. Jarman, M. R., & Higgs, E. S. (1972). The origins of animal and plant husbandry. In E. S. Higgs (Ed.), In papers in economic prehistory (pp. 15–26). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Johnson, M. (2010). Archaeological theory: An introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  47. Kansa, E. C., & Whitcher Kansa, S. (2013). We all know that a 14 is a sheep: Data publication and professionalism in archaeological communication. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage studies, 1(1), 88–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kansa, E. C., Whitcher Kansa, S., & Arbuckle, B. (2014). Publishing and pushing: Mixing models for communicating research data in archaeology. International Journal of Digital Curation, 9(1), 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kansa, S. W., Kansa, E. C., & Schultz, J. M. (2007). An open context for near eastern archaeology. Near Eastern Archaeology, 70(4), 188–194.Google Scholar
  50. Kaplan, L., & Maina, S. L. (1977). Archaeological botany of the Apple Creek site, Illinois. Journal of Seed Technology, 2(2), 40–53.Google Scholar
  51. Keller, F. (1878). The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland and other parts of Europe. London: Longsmans.Google Scholar
  52. Kipfer, B. A. (2000). Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lauwerier, R. C. G., & Plug, I. (2003). The future from the past: Archaeozoology in wildlife conservation and heritage management. Oxbow books.Google Scholar
  54. Legge, A., & Rowley-Conwy, P. (1988). Star carr revisited; a re-analysis of the large mammals. London: Birkbeck College, University of London.Google Scholar
  55. Lewis, H. M. (1877). Ancient society: Researches in the lines of human progress from savagery through barbarism to civilization. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  56. Libby, W. F. (1952). Radiocarbon dating. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Limbrey, S. (1975). Soil science and archaeology. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  58. Lyell, C. (1850). Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation. London: John Murrey.Google Scholar
  59. Lyman, R. L. (1994). Vertebrate taphonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lyman, R. L. (2006). Paleozoology in the service of conservation biology. Evolutionary Anthropology, 15, 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lyman, R. L., & Cannon, K. P. (2004). Applied zooarchaeology, because it matters. In R. L. Lyman & K. P. Cannon (Eds.), Zooarchaeology and conservation biology (pp. 1–24). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.Google Scholar
  62. Madella, M. (2014). Of crops and food: A social perspective on rice in the Indus civilization. In M. Madella, C. Lancelotti, & M. Savard (Eds.), Ancient plants and people: Contemporary trends in archaeobotany (pp. 218–236). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  63. Marciniak, A. (2005). Placing animals in the neolithic: Social zooarchaeology of prehistoric farming communities. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
  64. Morehart, C. T., & Morell-Hart, S. J. (2015). Beyond the ecofact: Toward a social paleoethnobotany in Mesoamerica. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 22(2), 483–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Morgan, L. H. (1877). Ancient society; or, researches in the lines of human progress from savagery, through barbarism to civilization. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  66. Murphy, C., & Fuller, D. Q. (2017). The future is long-term: Past and current directions in environmental archaeology. General Anthropology Bulletin of the General Anthropology Division, 24(1), 8–10.Google Scholar
  67. O’Connor, T. (1998). Environmental archaeology: A matter of definition. Environmental Archaeology, 2, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. O'Connor, T. (2001). Economic prehistory or environmental archaeology? On gaining a sense of identity. In U. Albarella (Ed.), Environmental archaeology: Meaning and purpose (pp. 17–22). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Orton, D. C., Gaastra, J., & Vander Linden, M. (2016). Between the Danube and the Deep Blue Sea: Zooarchaeological meta-analysis reveals variability in the spread and development of neolithic farming across the western Balkans. Open Quaternary.
  70. Overton, N. J., & Hamilakis, Y. (2013). A manifesto for social zooarchaeology. Swans and other beings in the Mesolithic. Archaeological Dialogues, 20(2), 111–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Owen, R. (1850). Palaeontology or a systematic summary of extinct animals and their geological relations. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black.Google Scholar
  72. Palmer, C., & Van der Veen, M. (2002). Archaeobotany and the social context of food. Acta Palaeobotanica, 42(2), 195–202.Google Scholar
  73. Pollard, A. M., & Heron, C. (2008). Archaeological chemistry. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.Google Scholar
  74. Poole, K. (2015). The contextual cat: Human-animal relationships and social meaning in Anglo-Saxon England. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 22, 857–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Prinzl, T., Walter, S., Wieghardt, A., Karberg, T. and Schreiber, T. (2014). GeoArchaeology Web 2.0: Geospatial information services facilitate new concepts of web-based data visualization strategies in archaeology – Two case studies from surveys in Sudan (Wadi) and Turkey (Doliche) Archaeological Discovery 2(4): Article ID 50492, 15 pages.Google Scholar
  76. Reitz, E. J., Newson, L. A., & Scudder, S. J. (2008). Case studies in environmental archaeology. New York/London: Plentum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Renfrew, C. (1973). Monuments mobilization and social organization in neolithic Wessex. In C. Renfrew (Ed.), The explanation of culture change: Models in prehistory (pp. 539–558). London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  78. Riede, F., Andersen, P., & Price, N. (2016). Does environmental archaeology need an ethical promise? World Archaeology, 1–17.
  79. Russell, N. (2012). Social zooarchaeology: Humans and animals in prehistory. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Schiffer, M. (1972). Archaeological context and systematic context. American Antiquity, 37, 156–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Shanks, M., & Tilley, C. (1992). Re-constructing archaeology: Theory and practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  82. Spencer, H. (1864). Principles of biology. London: Williams and Norgate.Google Scholar
  83. Steward, J. (1955). Theory of culture change: The methodology of multilinear evolution. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  84. Sykes, N. (2014). Beastly questions: Animal answers to archaeological questions. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  85. Taylor, E. B. (1871). Primitive culture: Researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art and custom. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  86. Tilley, C. (1997). A phenomenology of landscape: Places, paths and monuments. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  87. Tite, M. S. (1991). Archaeological science - past achievements and future prospects. Archaeometry, 31, 139–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Torsten Prinz, T., Walter, S., Wieghardt, A., Karberg, T., & Torben Schreiber, T. (2014). GeoArchaeology Web 2.0: Geospatial Information Services Facilitate New Concepts of Web-Based Data Visualization Strategies in Archaeology—Two Case Studies from Surveys in Sudan (Wadi) and Turkey (Doliche). Archaeological Discovery, 2(4), 91–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Tringham, R. (1991). Households with faces: The challenge of gender in prehistoric architectural remains. In J. Gero & M. Conkey (Eds.), Engendering archaeology: Women and prehistory (pp. 93–131). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  90. Van Etten, J., & Hijmans, R. J. (2010). A geospatial modelling approach integrating archaeobotany and genetics to trace the origin and dispersal of domesticated plants. PLoS One, 5(8), e12060. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Vandergugten, J. (2015). Bodies of information: Human-animal entanglement at Çatalhöyük and Çis-Baikal as seen through zooarchaeology. Totem: The University of Western Ontario. Journal of Anthropology, 23(1), 37–52.Google Scholar
  92. Van Derwarker, A. M., & Peres, T. M. (2010). Integrating zooarchaeology and paleoethnobotany. A consideration of issues, methods and cases. New York\Dordrecht\Heidelberg\London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Vita-Finzi, C., & Higgs, E. S. (1970). Prehistoric economy in the Mount Carmel areal of Palestine: Catchment analysis. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 36, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Von Post, L. (1916). Einige Sudschwedischen Quellmoore. Bulletin of the Geological Institution of the University of Uppsala, 15, 219–278.Google Scholar
  95. Wallace, A. (1858). On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society: Zoology, 3(9), 53–62. (45–62).Google Scholar
  96. Walsh, K. (2013). The archaeology of Mediterranean landscapes: Human environment interaction from the Neolithic to the roman period. Cambridge University press.Google Scholar
  97. Watson, P. J., Le Blanc, S. A., & Redman, C. L. (1971). Explanation in archeology. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  98. Wilkinson, K., & Stevens, C. (2003). Environmental archaeology: Approaches, techniques, and applications. Stroud: Tempus.Google Scholar
  99. Worsaae, J. J. A. (1847). Zur alterthums-kunde des nordens: Mit 20 tafeln. Leipzig: Bertelsen.Google Scholar
  100. Wylie, A. (1992). Feminist theories of social power: Some implications for a processual archaeology. Norwegian Archaeological Review, 25(1), 51–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Zeuner, F. E. (1963). A history of domesticated animals. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Settlement ArchaeologyMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Institute of Archaeology, Adam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland

Personalised recommendations