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Environmental Archaeology

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Huge tree in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Huge tree in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Marco Lo Vullo
Definition:

Environmental archaeology is the subdiscipline of archaeology that focuses on the impacts of a given culture on the environment, as well as the impact of the environment on that culture. Whether the environment is considered the driving force in cultural change, or merely a factor in development, environmental archaeology includes those elements.

Key issues of environmental archaeology are seasonality, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, raw material sourcing, and dietary or subsistence studies, and the long term effects of climate change, such as that created by the El Nino Southern Oscillation.

Practitioners of the movement include Karl Butzer, Brian Fagan and Charles Redman, to name three who have devoted complete books to the topic; but nearly every archaeologist working today is an environmentalist by definition.

University Programs in Environmental Archaeology

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com Guide to the Subdisciplines of Archaeology, and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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