Model Environments: Human Ecodynamics on Islands

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Although island archaeology has moved beyond the simplistic "islands as laboratories" view, islands continue to be used as models for coupled human and natural systems, or human ecodynamics. Island environments have the potential to serve as useful case studies for a range of important topics in world prehistory, especially when approached comparatively. This session will address a range of issues implied by human ecodynamics on islands, such as historical ecology, migration and interaction, subsistence change, conflict and territoriality, impacts on native biota, monumentality, and sociocultural evolution. Papers will address theoretical and substantive topics from islands and archipelagos across the globe. Those taking a comparative approach are especially welcome.

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  • Documents (15)

Documents
  • Animal exploitation in the early prehistory of the Balearic Islands (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Damià Ramis.

    The Balearic Islands were the last large islands in the Mediterranean to be settled, as late as the 3rd millennium cal BC. Currently, there is a good zooarchaeological record for the late 3rd and 2nd millennia cal BC, which allows the reconstruction of animal exploitation and management strategies in Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera. The results show that the obtainment of animal resources relied mainly on sheep, goat, cattle and pig husbandry. When this record is compared to the surrounding...

  • California’s Channel Islands as a Model System for Understanding the Historical Ecology of Islands (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Torben Rick. Todd Braje. Leslie Reeder-Myers. Courtney Hofman. Jon Erlandson.

    Islands around the world have served as important model systems for understanding a host of cultural and environmental issues. Here we synthesize our long-term research program on the historical ecology and archaeology of California’s Channel Islands. Drawing on zooarchaeological, paleoethnobotanical, genetic, stable isotope, and other datasets we document a 13,000 year sequence of human environmental interactions from coastal foragers to early historical ranchers and modern conservationists....

  • Coastal development and palaeoenvironment on the north coast of Papua New Guinea: the Paniri Creek sequence (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Golitko. Ethan Cochrance. James Goff.

    Pleistocene-Holocene environmental variance in the southwestern Pacific plays a critical role in explaining the human settlement potential of islands, and their respective settlement histories. In particular, prevalence of viable ecological niches for human settlement on the northern coast of New Guinea has likely fluctuated due to a combination of eustatic and tectonic factors that may have constrained the size of human populations living there as well as its potential as a route of movement...

  • Comparative Ecodynamics of North Atlantic Islands: A progress report (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ramona Harrison. Thomas H. McGovern. George Hambrecht.

    Support from US, Canadian, Scandinavian, and UK funding bodies 2007-16 has made possible a sustained multi-investigator multi-regional interdisciplinary series of investigations of the offshore islands of the North Atlantic (Faroes, Iceland, Greenland) coordinated by the NABO research cooperative. These islands were connected by Viking Age migrations from mainland Scandinavia and the British Isles, and the diverse fates of their human populations during the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods...

  • Diet change in the Ceramic Age Caribbean archipelago (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Hayley Mickleburgh. Jaime Pagán-Jiménez.

    This paper addresses temporal changes in dietary practices in the Ceramic Age (500BC – AD1500) Caribbean. Evidence from human dental wear and pathology has indicated a broad shift in dietary practices from the Early Ceramic Age (500BC – AD600/800) to the Late Ceramic Age (AD600/800 – AD1500). Comparisons between the two periods revealed significant differences in the rate of dental wear and pathology, suggesting a growing focus on refined, cariogenic foods, most likely horticultural produce....

  • Ecological contingency in very early offshore seafaring (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Atholl Anderson.

    Recent interest in accounting for very early offshore seafaring, generally from about 15,000 to 50,000 years ago, but in some cases extending up to one million years ago, has seen arguments for and against the influence of biogeographic factors, human behavioural ecology, and advances in cognition, language and technical expertise. I suggest that the seafaring milieu, as a natural system taking in conditions for offshore passages and the availability of resources for making offshore-capable...

  • From the Aegean to the Adriatic: Exploring the Neolithization of Islands (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Suzanne Pilaar Birch.

    Frameworks for understanding Neolithization have increasingly recognized the complex and multifaceted nature of the spread of domesticates from Southwest Asia into Europe. But how do these factors interplay in unique island settings as compared to the continental scale? This paper takes a comparative approach using sites located on islands from the Aegean and the Adriatic to address changing subsistence and herd management between 10,000-7,000 BP. Based on zooarchaeological and biogeochemical...

  • Human Ecodynamics of Subarctic Islands of the North Atlantic and North Pacific in Comparative Perspective (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ben Fitzhugh. George Hambrecht. Michael Etnier. Catherine West.

    The subarctic islands of the North Atlantic and North Pacific share a number of ecological characteristics, related to common latitudes and similar oceanographic and atmospheric conditions. Both regions were occupied in pre-modern times by subsistence harvesters with varying degrees of dependence on the marine environments for survival, and both areas became incorporated into capitalist, commercial fishing and hunting markets in the past several centuries. We compare the historical ecology of...

  • Late Holocene Human Expansion into Near and Remote Oceania: A Bayesian Model-Based Comparison of the Chronologies of the Mariana Islands and Lapita Settlement (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Rieth. J. Stephen Athens.

    Carson and colleagues have argued that the settlement of the Mariana Islands ~3500 cal BP marks the first major human expansion in the Western Pacific during the late Holocene. If this settlement date is correct, it would be the initial population movement beyond the Near Oceania and Island Southeast Asia region, an area occupied by modern humans for 40,000+ years. The previous consensus gave precedence to the rapid Lapita expansion throughout Near Oceania at generally the same time, followed a...

  • Marginality is the Mother of Invention: A New Institutional Economics Perspective (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Keegan.

    It has long been assumed that the original inhabitants of the Bahama archipelago practiced lifeways that were essentially identical to those practiced on their larger neighbors. Recent research suggests that there actually were substantial differences, including a much higher degree of mobility and a focus on maize instead of manioc cultivation. Some of these differences may be attributed to their origins in Cuba, versus Hispaniola; and the possibility that their ancestry can be traced to what...

  • Modelling climate impacts on human societies and marine fisheries in central Polynesia (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Melinda Allen. Alex Morrison. Andrew McAlister.

    The effects of past climate change on Polynesian societies are poorly understood, in part because detailed palaeoclimate records have been lacking. Drawing on recently assembled palaeoclimate observations from across central Polynesia, along with those from realistically forced climate simulations, we assess how climate variability affected marine fisheries and long-term trends in harvesting practices. Little Ice Age (ca. 1400-1800 AD) conditions are modelled for central Polynesia focusing on...

  • Re-assessing island colonization and exploitation in the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene Mediterranean (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Cherry. Thomas Leppard.

    In 1981 one of us (Cherry) first attempted to tease out spatial and temporal patterning in the colonization of the Mediterranean islands by human communities. Since the 1980s, slowly accumulating evidence has suggested that the Mediterranean islands were sporadically exploited by hunter-gatherer-fishers (HGF) during the Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic. Here, adapting principles from island biogeography, we seek to establish whether or not these patchy data exhibit patterning. We suggest that the...

  • Resource Structure, Economic Defendability, and Conflict in Rapa Nui and Rapa Iti, East Polynesia – an agent-based modeling approach (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert DiNapoli. Terry Hunt. Alex Morrison. Brian Lane. Carl Lipo.

    East Polynesian populations are closely related both culturally and genetically, yet their islands are environmentally diverse. The common ancestry and strong environmental differences make East Polynesia uniquely suited to the study of divergent sociocultural evolution. Following human colonization, populations diverged in subsistence practices, settlement patterns, ritual architecture, intensity of competition, and social organization. Here we explore differences in the intensity of conflict...

  • Returning to the Gardens of Lono: New Investigations in the Kona Field System, Hawaii Island (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mara Mulrooney. Mark D. McCoy. Thegn N. Ladefoged.

    Hawai‘i Island’s Kona Field System is the largest dryland field system in the Hawaiian Islands. The chronology for the development of this system has been addressed through several major studies, including the landmark volume ‘Gardens of Lono’ which described intensive survey and excavations on the grounds of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Kealakekua. Since its publication, radiocarbon dates from this and most other excavations in Kona have been rejected due to a lack of control for...

  • When to Hunt a Sea Lion, When to Hunt a Manatee: The Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Mammal Hunting in Insular Settings (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adrian Whitaker. Christina Giovas.

    A notable feature of hunter-gatherer adaptations in mainland coastal settings throughout the world, is the ubiquity of marine mammal hunting. This pattern is less commonly seen in insular settings, which is surprising since marine mammals are often the only large mammal available. We develop a model based in evolutionary ecology that predicts ecological, social, and technological conditions that shape the choice to hunt marine mammals. We then evaluate this model in light of data from the island...