Evaluating Archaic Period Settlement and Subsistence Patterns in Relation to Ecosystem Dynamics in New England


This paper summarizes preliminary data and interpretations of Archaic Period land use patterns in relation to environmental dynamics within Massachusetts. This analysis is a component of a larger NSF-funded research project intended to analyze the drivers of and responses to ecosystem dynamics in the New England region. This project aims to better understand the dialectical relationship among human activity (fire, land clearance, horticulture), vegetational dynamics, and climate. The following are the specific alternative hypotheses examined in this three-year project: (1) changes in vegetation were the result of cultural development or "evolution"; (2) people passively responded to environmental change, contributing minimal ecological impact themselves; and (3) vegetational histories demonstrate the clear influence of human agency, with different drivers and responses in different cultural contexts. We present comprehensive archaeological and ecological data for the state of Massachusetts as a whole, and our more intensive analysis of three sub-regions within the state: Martha’s Vineyard, the Taunton River Drainage Basin, and the Deerfield Valley—representing three distinct ecological zones.

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Cite this Record

Evaluating Archaic Period Settlement and Subsistence Patterns in Relation to Ecosystem Dynamics in New England. Dianna Doucette, Elizabeth Chilton, Katie Kirakosian, Deena Duranleau, David Foster. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396483)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;