Historical Ecology, Heterarchy and Multitemporal Dynamics: Papers in Honor of Carole Crumley

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

In an ongoing career, so far spanning more than four decades, Carole Crumley has consistently delivered original frameworks for understanding the dialectic of human-environmental relations and her work has embodied the holism of anthropology. Documenting long-term interactions between historical and environmental circumstance and the social, political and economic elements of land use practice, her research in Burgundy fostered new ways of seeing landscapes, the imperative of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study, the significance of historic climate change, and the value of multitemporal and multiscalar approaches. In collaboration with her research partners, Crumley advanced the interdisciplinary theory and method of Historical Ecology. Her key concept of "heterarchy" is now applied to studies of societal and environmental resilience. Critiquing default presumptions of hierarchy allows scholars to better perceive social structural alternatives in the past that were successfully responsive to environmental constraints, and to imagine them for the future. Following her retirement from teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill, Crumley’s work continues as director of the 'Integrated History and Future of People on Earth' (IHOPE) initiative, a global network of researchers based at Sweden’s Uppsala University and uniting biophysical and social sciences.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-13 of 13)

  • Documents (13)

  • Dialectic in Historical Ecology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Marquardt.

    It has been my privilege to call Carole Crumley a friend for 44 years. Our experiences working together in Burgundy, France in the 1970s and 1980s were formative to my research perspective in historical ecology, a perspective to which Carole herself has been a major contributor. Historical ecology is the multiscalar and multitemporal study of the dynamic relations between people and their environment. But “environment” is more than the sum total of one’s physical surroundings. As perceived by...

  • The Early Egyptian State (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Wenke.

    Of all the ancient states, the concept of heterarchy would seem to be least applicable to ancient Egypt.There, according to traditional interpretations, successive polities in the 3rd Millennium BC successfully monopolized power and authority by means of increasingly elaborate and hierarchically- arranged administrative structures and functions. But recent analyses and evidence suggest that state did not maintain absolute control at all times and in all areas of the state, particularly with...

  • Expanding Historical Ecology from Interdisciplinary to Transdisciplinary Objectives (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Seth Murray.

    The approaches and perspectives of Historical Ecology are solidly grounded in interdisciplinary objectives. Wide-ranging projects, such as the one Carole Crumley initiated and has sustained in France, demonstrate the utility of integrating interdisciplinary objectives into research that seeks to understand long-term changes in a landscape. As the original set of archaeological objectives in Crumley’s project changed over time, Historical Ecology emerged as a robust conceptual framework that...

  • Feminism, Gender, and Heterarchy (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Janet Levy.

    When archaeologists, largely led by Carole Crumley, began applying the concept of heterarchy to prehistoric contexts, the focus was on social organization writ large. We generally used heterarchy to debate, illuminate, and/or clarify models of non-egalitarianism, stratification, and hierarchy. The concept seems to have come out of analyses of 20th century political systems. Some archaeological scholars of heterarchy have diversified into discussions of other aspects of human experience, such as...

  • Hierarchies and Heterarchies in Iron Age Europe (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Manuel Fernandez-Gotz.

    Traditionally, Iron Age communities have been depicted as hierarchical, triangular societies, with elites at the top of the social pyramid and a strong warrior tradition. However, archaeological evidence reveals very varied patterns of societies during the First Millennium BC in Europe, from those that display marked signs of social hierarchy, to others where social differentiation was much less pronounced. This paper aims to contribute to the task of rethinking Iron Age communities from the...

  • The hillforts of Britain and Ireland: how regionally varied are they? (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ian Ralston. Gary Lock.

    Since the beginning of insular Iron Age studies, the nature and variability of the settlement record across these islands have been a principal matter of interest. This approach reached a zenith in the mid-20th century, in the schemes of Christopher Hawkes and Stuart Piggott. These set out to delineate different provinces and regions within Britain in which distinctive cultures could be recognized, in substantial part framed on the distributions of varieties of settlements, as depicted for...

  • Historical Ecology and Planning for the Future: Mapping the Historical Trajectory of American Agriculture (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Scholl.

    Carole L. Crumley has long advocated broadly inclusive studies that reach across disciplines to bring together social and environmental data from multiple geographic and temporal scales in order to draw lessons from the past. This work reports the use of those approaches to map the changes in colonial American agriculture and on-going research into 19th century westward expansion. What is becoming clear is that U.S. has a long-term trajectory which continues to move away from the sustaining...

  • Historical Ecology in the Cold and Wet: Carole Crumley’s North Atlantic Legacy (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas McGovern.

    In 1990 Carole Crumley organized a School of American Research (SAR) seminar that brought together a group of researchers from different areas with interests in a wide range of periods and topics in world archaeology and human ecology. This disparate group was united by Carole’s vision of a fresh approach to the interactions of environment and society through time- something beyond the increasingly stale processual/ post-processual debates of that period. Her vision of a dynamic interaction of...

  • Holy Wells across the Longue Durée (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Celeste Ray.

    Sacred springs and holy wells in northwest European prehistory evidence multi-period veneration, yet are archaeologically-resistant sites. This paper assesses evidence for votive deposition at sacred watery sites with a focus on the Iron Age to Christian transition in Ireland. While recent scholarship deconstructing “the Celts” has also dismissed contemporary holy well practices as invented traditions or as Roman introductions, ongoing veneration at nearly 1000 Irish well sites is part of an old...

  • A "Landscape of Ancestors"—Looking Back and Thinking Forward (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Murray. Bettina Arnold.

    In 2002, we completed the excavation of two early Iron Age burial monuments in southwestern Germany as part of the “Landscape of Ancestors” project. After more than a decade of restoration and laboratory analysis, the project is now being prepared for publication. Our research is focused on a complex mortuary landscape from 720 to 400 B.C. and our perspectives on that landscape have been substantially influenced by ideas of landscape, time, and society that we absorbed as graduate students from...

  • Reflections on anthropology and environment: Implications of Crumley’s holistic approach (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Poncelet.

    One of the benefits of anthropology’s four-field approach is that it invites reflecting on and applying insights, perspectives, and learnings from one field to another. Such was my experience with Carole Crumley. Although Carole was an archeologist and I was a cultural anthropologist, I asked her to serve as my faculty advisor at UNC-Chapel Hill primarily because she deeply believed in the importance of my research interest. I wanted to study multistakeholder environmental collaboration in...

  • Resilience, Hierarchy, and the Native American Cultural Landscapes of the Yazoo Basin and the Mississippi Delta (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Rodning. Jayur Mehta.

    Within the field of ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to withstand change and to regenerate itself after disturbance. Adapted to the archaeological study of past cultural systems, the concept of resilience refers to the capacity of a cultural system or a cultural landscape to endure change. Archaeologists have primarily recognized resiliency in cultural systems of regions characterized by arid conditions, either permanently or periodically. This paper considers prehistoric...

  • The Way the Wind Blows on the Steppe: The Historical Ecology of Mortuary Monuments in Mongolia (1500 BC-1400 AD) (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erik Johannesson.

    Subject to continuous change, landscapes represent palimpsests of successive alterations over time. As such, landscapes have history. Following Carole Crumley’s major contributions to historical ecology, this paper charts diachronic change in mortuary landscapes in Mongolia against the backdrop of three major nomadic polities: the Xiongnu (200 BC-200 AD), The Turk Empire (550-850 AD), and the Mongol Empire (1200-1400 AD). The construction of impressive funerary stone monuments has been a...