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Department of Archaeology


The aim of H-E Interactions is to investigate how increasingly anthropogenic wetland landscapes, and the reliable resources within those environments, influenced the evolution of plant-food production and the origins of agriculture through the Final Pleistocene and into the Early Holocene (ca. 23-8 ka cal. BP). This project will consider how earlier human-environment interactions shaped this key transition by integrating the latest theoretical Human Niche Construction (HNC) perspectives with the tool-kit of environmental archaeology to investigate five well-excavated wetland oriented archaeological sites in the Southern Levant. H-E Interactions, will employ an interdisciplinary, effective combination of microbotanical approaches, (phytolith, starch and microcharcoal analyses) and geoarchaeology, in particular, micromorphology, to investigate the on- and off-site contexts, of a temporally broad (diachronic) set of sites, to provide long-term, direct evidence of ancient plant-use. To achieve this, training in geoarchaeology techniques and GIS and multivariate statistical skills will facilitate the production, management and interpretation of the large environmental dataset generated by this project. In addition to providing much needed direct evidence of plant-use and environment from a critical H-E threshold, H-E Interactions is the first study in the region to directly examine how HNC practices impacted the origins of agriculture. To date, the origins of agriculture has been largely understood as a consequence of human reactions to environmental ‘push and pull’ factors. H-E Interactions presents an alternative approach and takes the perspective that increased use of ‘low-ranked’ resources might reflect deliberate human modification, management and/or food processing innovation, increasing the relative abundance and ease of acquisition of ‘low-ranked’ resources, resulting in the ‘upward mobility’ of that resource. Accordingly, human niche construction (HNC) provides a promising new way to consider changing plant resource selection in the Levant, and importantly, the wider cultural and environmental implications, which may have impacted the rise of increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the origins of agriculture.




Project Tags

Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Periods of interest: 
Geographical areas: 
Mesopotamia and the Near East
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Built Environment
Environmental Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape studies
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