The world reshaped: practices and impacts of early agrarian societies

Whitehouse, N. J. and Kirleis, W. (2014) The world reshaped: practices and impacts of early agrarian societies. Journal of Archaeological Science, 51, pp. 1-11. (doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.08.007)

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The contributions 2014 indicate that research into the study of early agriculture continues to remain a flourishing area of science. We discuss the contribution of the volume's papers and provide a review of how they add to our knowledge about the process to early agriculture, its development and impacts upon the Holocene landscape. The main focus of many of the papers is on the European Neolithic record, with several contributions focussing on research from other regions. Our understanding of the processes happening in Europe is deepening to a level where we have a relatively good understanding of events at a regional level and moving towards understanding at a continental level. This contrasts with other areas of the world where there is still considerable need for intensive primary data collection and where the narrative of agricultural subsistence practices varies considerably. In some regions, existing models of understanding may not be fully adequate and the process of “agriculture” in these areas was likely substantially different to how this occurred in Europe and the Near East. Indeed, it is clear that a more nuanced understanding of how we currently define ‘agriculture’ is necessary. This recognises the diversity of agricultural practises that are evident in different areas of the world, which may be quite removed to what might be recognisable as ‘agriculture’ in places such as Europe. It is evident that the switch from hunter-gatherer subsistence to agro-pastoralism had a huge effect on the Earth system, impacting biodiversity, land cover and the global carbon cycle. Archaeologists have much to contribute towards our knowledge of these impacts and the development of the modern ‘cultural landscape’.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitehouse, Professor Nicki
Authors: Whitehouse, N. J., and Kirleis, W.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Journal of Archaeological Science
ISSN (Online):1095-9238
Published Online:14 August 2014

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