Nested Proxies: Multi-scalar Approaches to Interpreting Human-Landscape Interactions

Author(s): Ryan Szymanski

Year: 2015


Interpretive challenges involving issues of equifinality and causation can chronically hamper environmental reconstruction efforts, as numerous physical, environmental, or anthropogenic processes may potentially be responsible for creating observed raw data patterns. Nested multi-proxy and multi-scalar analyses offer potential means of approaching these difficult conceptual issues which can plague interpretations reliant on single lines of proxy evidence. A dataset comprised of multiple paleoecological proxies, including pollen, phytoliths, and fungal spores, derived from a five meter sediment core from Mtwapa Creek, Kenya, is presented in order to illustrate these issues and means of resolution. Using the different origin points, production, distribution, deposition modes, and associations of these proxies, I argue that discord in data between these sources can aid in isolating some of the possible environmental scenarios which may have produced particular data patterns, and may enable researchers to more effectively separate anthropogenic versus climatic impacts on past environments. It is proposed that more intensive study of the microbotanical content of sediments is critical to improving paleoecological, and by extension, archaeological knowledge of ancient landscapes and their inhabitants.

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Cite this Record

Nested Proxies: Multi-scalar Approaches to Interpreting Human-Landscape Interactions. Ryan Szymanski. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395464)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;