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More than Just a Record: Active Ecological Effects of Archaeological Strata

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Historical Archaeology and Environment

Abstract

The totality of archaeological strata or humanly modified ground is taken here to comprise a global-scale stratigraphic entity called ‘the archaeosphere’. Normally characterized in relatively passive and static terms as a mere record or residue of past human action, the archaeosphere is shown to be an extremely vibrant and active set of deposits. The many interactions, influences and impacts of such ground on other parts of ecological systems are briefly examined. It is concluded that though the archaeosphere was partly created, transformed and extended by humans, it is now so substantial it can be regarded as having an independent existence in its own right. Forming part of the landscape, as the very ground itself, it has become an environmental entity, shaping other things as much as it is shaped by them. As the accumulation of a multiplicity of tiny effects, added together to make a global force, the archaeosphere will continue to have powers of distributed material agency and thus the capacity to generate ecological effects far into the future, even in a post-human world.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to the editor and anonymous peer reviewer for very useful comments and encouragement. I am especially grateful for their prompting to use more examples from outside of Europe, given that the archaeosphere is a global phenomenon, and not merely a European one. I have taken this on board, and it has greatly helped the development of the argument.

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Correspondence to Matt Edgeworth .

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Edgeworth, M. (2018). More than Just a Record: Active Ecological Effects of Archaeological Strata. In: Souza, M., Costa, D. (eds) Historical Archaeology and Environment. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90857-1_2

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