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Archaeology and the Anthropocene in the Study of Settler Australia

Abstract

Environmental archaeology of settler colonialism in Australia is well placed to make an important contribution to our understanding of the Anthropocene. Environmental data provide perspectives on settler-driven change and places it in the long-term context of anthropogenic change that began with the arrival of Aboriginal people some 65,000 years ago. Historical archaeology is uniquely placed to interpret this record. It has the capacity to integrate scientific data about the environment with humanities-based understandings about culture and human agency. It also has the capacity to interrogate multi-scalar data about human activity ranging from the site-specific to the global and extending from the present into deep time. This chapter reviews the work of archaeologists using environmental data and the work of natural scientists producing data about environmental change over the past two centuries. Included in this is work on soil erosion and sedimentation as well as floral and faunal research. It is argued that research which more closely integrates archaeological approaches with environmental science has considerable potential to provide insights into anthropogenic environmental change and into human adaptation to the changes caused.

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Australia
  • Erosion
  • Landscape
  • Palynology

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Lawrence, S., Davies, P. (2018). Archaeology and the Anthropocene in the Study of Settler Australia. In: Souza, M., Costa, D. (eds) Historical Archaeology and Environment. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90857-1_11

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