A Comparative Approach to Deciphering Past Agricultural Strategies in the Tropics: The Shared Trends of Resiliency, Vulnerability, and Complexity
Author(s): Scott Macrae
Tropical environments are defined by a shared suite of climatic and environmental variables. These unifying characteristics led past archaeologists to delineate these regions as incapable of fostering state level civilizations. These interpretations presumed a lack of resources required to support agricultural production at the level obligatory for the urban centers that define states. Modern studies in tropical ecology question this perspective by identifying a high degree of localized resource diversity. A comparative study of how tropical societies fashioned their agricultural strategies to manage climatic and environmental conditions, while exploiting local heterogeneous resources, reveals how past peoples were able to cope with their surroundings while supporting complex tropical states. This will be examined in case studies from classical era Southeast Asia (CE 800 – 1400) and Mesoamerica (CE 250 – 900), drawing evidence from excavations, historical documentation, and observations of living systems. Following the research objectives of the Socio-ecological Entanglement in Tropical Societies project, the presentation will address resilient and vulnerable qualities within the agricultural methods employed. Results demonstrate a shared trend towards increasing complexity within the agricultural strategies of these tropical societies as they managed their environmental circumstances and supported state level populations with increasing social hierarchies.
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A Comparative Approach to Deciphering Past Agricultural Strategies in the Tropics: The Shared Trends of Resiliency, Vulnerability, and Complexity. Scott Macrae. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431278)
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min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;
Abstract Id(s): 14450