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Introducing Forests of Plenty: biological, temporal, regional, and methodological diversity in human rainforest adaptations

Author(s): Patrick Roberts ; Michael Petraglia

Year: 2016

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Summary

In the 1980s, anthropologists argued that tropical rainforests were unattractive environments for long-term human navigation, subsistence and occupation. Yet, far from being pristine ecologies, the rainforests of Africa, Asia, Melanesia, and the Americas are increasingly being shown to have shaped, and been shaped by our species from at least 45,000 years ago, if not earlier. However, in many instances, archaeologists and anthropologists have concluded that early humans were occupying and using ‘rainforests’ without attempting to examine and detail the diverse nature of the inhabited ecologies, or human adaptations to them. Here we introduce the ‘Forests of Plenty’ symposium that, by bringing together specialists in numerous regions and time periods, aims to compare global human adaptations to tropical forests across prehistoric, historic and ethnographic timescales. By highlighting the applicability of developing methodologies in the fields of modern risk management, linguistics, history, genetics, biomolecular science, and archaeology to the study of human rainforest demographies, adaptations, and impacts, we highlight the more refined research questions driving increased understandings of our species’ rainforest histories. We introduce this approach by drawing on our own multidisciplinary and multi-period work in the rainforests of South Asia and Melanesia.


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Introducing Forests of Plenty: biological, temporal, regional, and methodological diversity in human rainforest adaptations. Patrick Roberts, Michael Petraglia. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 402873)


Keywords


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America