Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Landscape Domestication and Archaeology

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_817


The term “landscape domestication” has become increasingly visible within the last decade or so. Some find this use of “domestication” to be inappropriate, however, as domestication is often associated with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. A glance at a dictionary dispels confusion, as there are no mentions of evolution or selection or genetics in the definitions. The term comes from the Latin domesticäre to dwell in a house, to accustom (Harlan 1992). A house is a built environment and has been part of our experience since people started constructing their own shelters from the elements. The house in the countryside is surrounded by a garden, which also has a dump heap, both of which are intimately involved in the domestication of plants. Hence, there is a strong relationship between landscape domestication and plant or animal domestication, as pointed out by Rindos (1984), although he preferred the “developing agroecology” to landscape domestication.

There is,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bush, M.B. & M.R. Silman. 2007. Amazonian exploitation revisited: ecological asymmetry and the policy pendulum. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 5: 457–65.Google Scholar
  2. Certini, G. & R. Scalenghe. 2011. Anthropogenic soils are the golden spikes for the Anthropocene. The Holocene 21(8): 1269–1274.Google Scholar
  3. Clement, C.R. 1999. 1492 and the loss of Amazonian crop genetic resources. I. The relation between domestication and human population decline. Economic Botany 53(2): 188–202.Google Scholar
  4. Crumley, C.L. 1994. Historical ecology: a multidimensional ecological orientation, in C.L. Crumley (ed.) Historical ecology: cultural knowledge and changing landscapes: 1–16. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  5. Denevan, W.M. 2011. The “pristine myth” revisited. The Geographical Review 101(4): 576–91.Google Scholar
  6. Denevan, W.M. & C. Padoch (ed.) 1988. Swidden-fallow agroforestry in the Peruvian Amazon (Advances in Economic Botany 5). New York: New York Botanical Garden.Google Scholar
  7. Erickson, C.L. 2003. Historical ecology and future explorations, in J. Lehmann, D. Kern, B. Glaser & W. Woods (ed.) Amazonian Dark Earths: origin, properties, management: 455–500. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Harlan, J.R. 1992. Crops and man, 2nd edn. Madison: American Society of Agronomy & Crop Science Society of America.Google Scholar
  9. Harris, D.R. 2012. Evolution of agroecosystems: biodiversity, origins, and differential development, in P. Gepts, T.R., Famula, R.L. Bettinger, S.B. Brush, A.B. Damania, P.E. McGuire & C.O. Qualset (ed.) Biodiversity in agriculture: domestication, evolution, and sustainability: 21–56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Levis, C., P.F. Souza, J. Schietti, T. Emilio, J.L.P.V. Pinto, C.R. Clement & F.R.C. Costa. 2012. Historical human footprint on modern tree species composition in the Purus-Madeira interfluve, Central Amazonia. PLoS ONE 7: e48559.Google Scholar
  11. McMichael, C.H., D.R. Piperno, M.B. Bush, M.R. Silman, A.R. Zimmerman, M.F. Raczka & L.C. Lobato. 2012. Sparse pre-Columbian human habitation in western Amazonia. Science 336: 1429–31.Google Scholar
  12. Michon, G. 2005. Domesticating forests: how farmers manage forest resources. Bogor: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Center for International Forestry Research, The World Agroforestry Centre.Google Scholar
  13. Peters, C.M. 2000. Precolumbian silviculture and indigenous management of Neotropical forests, in D.L. Lentz (ed.) Imperfect balance: landscape transformations in the Precolumbian Americas: 203–24. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Piperno, D.R. & D.M. Pearsall. 1998. The origins of agriculture in the lowland Neotropics. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Politis, G.G. 1996. Moving to produce: Nukak mobility and settlement patterns in Amazonia. World Archaeology 27: 492–511.Google Scholar
  16. Rindos, D. 1984. The origins of agriculture: an evolutionary perspective. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rival, L. 2007. Domesticating the landscape, producing crops, and reproducing society in Amazonia, in D. Parkin & S. Ulijaszek (ed.) Holistic anthropology: convergence and emergence (Methodology and history in Anthropology 16): 72–90. Oxford: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  18. Sauer, C.O. 1925. The morphology of landscape. University of California Publications in Geography 2(2): 19–54.Google Scholar
  19. Stahl, P.W. 2008. The contributions of zooarchaeology to historical ecology in the Neotropics. Quaternary International 180: 5–16.Google Scholar
  20. Tudge, C. 1998. Neanderthals, bandits and farmers: how agriculture really began (Darwinism Today). London: Weiderfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  21. Woods, W.I., W.G. Teixeira, J. Lehmann, C. Steiner, A.M.G.A. WinklerPrins & L. Rebelatto (ed.) 2009. Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek’s vision. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Zeder, M.A., D.G. Bradley, E. Emschwiller & B.D. Smith (ed.) 2006. Documenting domestication – new genetic and archaeological paradigms. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Anderson, E. 1952/2005. Plants, man and life. Boston: Little, Brown & Cia./Mineola: Dover Publ.Google Scholar
  2. Balée, W. (ed.) 1998. Advances in historical ecology (The Historical Ecology series). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. - 2009–10. Special issue “Long-term anthropic influences on the diversity of Amazonian landscapes and biota”. Diversity (Available at: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/diversity/special_issues/amazonian).
  4. Balée, W. & C.L. Erickson (ed.) 2006. Time and complexity in historical ecology: studies in the neotropical lowlands (The Historical Ecology series). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Denevan, W.M. 2001. Cultivated landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes (Oxford Geographical and Environmental Studies). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gammage, B. 2011. The biggest estate on earth: how the Aborigines made Australia. Sidney: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  7. Harris, D.R. & G.C. Hillman (ed.) 1989. Foraging and farming: the evolution of plant exploitation. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  8. Kennedy, J. & W. Clarke. 2004. Cultivated landscapes of the Southwest Pacific (Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Working Paper 50). Canberra: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program, Australian National University.Google Scholar
  9. Lentz, D.L. (ed.) 2000. Imperfect balance: landscape transformations in the Precolumbian Americas (The Historical Ecology series). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Mann, C.C. 2005. 1491: new revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  11. Posey, D.A. & W. Balée. (ed.) 1989. Resource management in Amazonia: indigenous and folk strategies (Advances in Economic Botany 7). New York: The New York Botanical Garden.Google Scholar
  12. Price, T.D. & A.B. Gebauer (ed.) 1995. Last hunters, first farmers: new perspectives on the prehistoric transition to agriculture (School of American Research Advanced seminar series). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  13. Sauer, C.O. 1952. Agricultural origins and dispersals: the domestication of animals and foodstuffs. New York: The American Geographical Society.Google Scholar
  14. Tudge, C. 1996. The time before history: 5 million years of human impact. New York: Touchstone.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazôniaManausBrazil