Human-Environmental Interactions in the Mediterranean Basin

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

As a center of agricultural invention and a major route for the spread of early agriculture, the Mediterranean Basin has long been an area of research for those interested in the modification of the landscape by humans. Yet even before the arrival of agriculture, humans played an active role in transforming the Mediterranean Basin for millennia. Recent research challenges the notion of pristine, balanced, or stable social-ecological systems in the past by investigating 1) recursive relationships between humans and ecosystems, 2) humans as actors in complex, non-equilibrium systems influenced by a variety of human and non-human drivers, and 3) long-term social and ecological change. Because the Mediterranean Basin represents a diverse range of cultures, adaptations, and interactions, it serves as a useful laboratory for a wide range of techniques and regionally centered research. This session showcases multiple perspectives used to tease apart the impacts and repercussions that occur within the dialectic relationship between humans and their surroundings. Our efforts will focus upon new computation methods, including agent-based simulation, geographical information systems (GIS), network analysis, climate modeling, and the integration of these techniques to address questions centered in the Mediterranean Basin.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Agricultural risk management in Mediterranean environments: a computational modeling approach (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicolas Gauthier.

    Small-scale agriculturalists in the Mediterranean Basin rely on multiple strategies including diversification, intensification, and storage to maintain a stable food supply in the face of environmental uncertainty. Each of these strategies requires farmers to make specific resource allocation decisions in response to environmental risks and is thus sensitive to variability in both the spatiotemporal pattern of risk and the ability of farmers to perceive that pattern. In this talk, I present an...

  • Analyzing Magdalenian social networks in their environmental context (2016)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Claudine Gravel-Miguel.

    This research argues for a refocus of the study of prehistoric social networks that involves contextualizing the inter-site links often interpreted as indicators of social interactions between different groups. It focuses on the social networks created during the 3 sub-periods of the Magdalenian in the Cantabrian and Dordogne regions, and visible through similarities of portable art representations. It uses Species Distribution Modeling and Maximum Classification Likelihood on faunal presence...

  • Early Holocene socio-ecological dynamics in the Iberian Peninsula: a network approach (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sergi Lozano. Luce Prignano. Magdalena Gómez-Puche. Javier Fernández-López de Pablo.

    Late Glacial and Early Holocene environmental changes affected different domains of human demography, settlement and subsistence patterns. The variable spatial patterning produced by the prehistoric hunter-gatherers archaeological record, from local bands to larger regional groups, demands new approaches for analysing the multi-scalar nature of human-environmental interactions. In this paper, we present the preliminary results of a long-term research program aimed to decipher the relationship...

  • Fire, Humans, and Landscape Evolution: Modeling Anthropogenic Fire and Neolithic Landscapes in the Western Mediterranean (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Grant Snitker.

    Archaeological and paleoecological analyses demonstrate that human-caused fires have long-term influences on global terrestrial and atmospheric systems. For millennia, humans have intentionally burned landscapes to drive game, clear land, engage in warfare, and propagate beneficial plant and animal species. Around the world, Neolithic transitions to agriculture often coincided with increases in fire frequency and changes in vegetation community composition and distribution. Although this...

  • Neolithic Spread Models, Agricultural Islands and Pivotal Parameters: Impressions Gleaned from Simulating the Spread of Agriculture in the West Mediterranean (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sean Bergin.

    The significance of the spread of agriculture cannot be overstated and for this reason strong disagreement continues to arise over the processes responsible for the shift from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. Four influential models have been proposed for the spread of agriculture in the west Mediterranean and can be applied to the circumstances of the Impresso-Cardial spread: the Wave of Advance Model, the Capillary Model, the Maritime Pioneer Colonization Model and the Dual Model. All four...

  • Networks of Social Stability in the Mediterranean Bronze Age (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Wendy Cegielski.

    Certain social systems do not become more complex. They remain stable for considerable periods of time despite constant environmental and cultural change, a fact that remains a puzzle in archaeology. Research by Iberian archaeologists indicates that the Valencian Bronze Age in Mediterranean Spain may be such a case where material homogeneity represents a social system lasting with little change for nearly 700 years (BC 2200-1500). This trend stands in stark contrast to the complex social changes...

  • Reading the Landscape: a model of environmental legibility for assessing hominid dispersals during the Late Pleistocene. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dario Guiducci.

    The ability of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) to successfully navigate complex topographies and variable environments is hypothesized to have been a key adaptation for the long term success of our species, in comparison to other hominid groups. Additionally, the structure of the environment through which human dispersals occurred is arguably important to our understanding of the speed and scale at which population movements occurred. This paper demonstrates a new methodology for quantifying...

  • Traces of complexity: connecting model output with archaeological reality (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Isaac Ullah.

    Simulation models are explicit descriptions of the components and interactions of a system, made dynamic in software. In archaeology, they are most often used to conduct controlled experiments, in which key socio-ecological parameters are varied, and changes to system-level dynamics are observed over time. An interesting emergent property of these kinds of experiments is that they produce a range of possible outcomes for any set of initial conditions. Thus, rather than use simulations to explain...