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Human Landscape Modification and Environmental Change in the Western Kenyan Highlands

Author(s): Ryan Szymanski

Year: 2017

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Summary

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 multi­scalar 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 sediment core from Kingwal Swamp, 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

Human Landscape Modification and Environmental Change in the Western Kenyan Highlands. Ryan Szymanski. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429868)


Keywords

General
Environment Fungi Pollen

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16669

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