Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Arizona State University archaeologist models past and future landscapes

21.02.2011
Archaeology is a vital tool in understanding the long-term consequences of human impact on the environment. Computational modeling can refine that understanding. But according to Arizona State University archaeologist C. Michael Barton, it takes a revolution in thought, along with the newest methods of modeling, to produce a comprehensive picture of the past that can help inform land-use decisions for our future.

Barton, a professor in ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change, will discuss "Looking for the Future in the Past: Long-Term Change in Socioecological Systems" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Feb. 20.

"We have lots of information in the archaeological record, but it actually represents a tiny fraction of what people used, which represents a small portion of how people lived," Barton explained. "We have artifacts from this point in time and that point in time, but we don't know what people used or how they lived in the interim. So we are left with connecting the dots and making inferences."

Enter computational modeling, which can help fill in the gaps with quantitative estimates by taking into account what we know about people based on sociology, economics, anthropology and other fields. But Barton isn't convinced that a computer can do a better job at such guesswork than archaeologists.

"We must use these tools but also change the way we think about the archaeological record," he said. "When formal and computational modeling is used to experimentally simulate human socioecological dynamics, the empirical archaeological record can be used to validate and improve dynamic models of long-term change."

Considered a pioneer in the area of archaeological applications of computational modeling, Barton helms the Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics project, which is an example of using the past to develop and test decision-support models regarding interactions between land use and landscape evolution. At the AAAS meeting, he will present the project's findings from an agrarian region of northern Jordan.

Barton's team set up experiments that yielded expected and unexpected results. Among the expected findings were that shifting (or "swidden") cultivation produced more erosion than farming and fertilizing the same field repeatedly, and larger settlements had a greater impact on the land than smaller ones. Unexpectedly, the team found that in smaller communities, shifting cultivation and grazing can increase productivity because soil lost due to erosion from grazing can accumulate in farmed areas; however, when those hamlets grow, the same practices can cause soil loss throughout the land used by a village, leading to a significant drop in productivity. In fact, the archaeological record of northern Jordan shows the earliest farming communities experienced the kinds of impacts predicted by the modeling experiments.

Barton is a co-founder of the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Open Agent Based Modeling Consortium; and the Network for Computational Modeling in Socio-Ecological Sciences, a National Science Foundation-funded network designed to provide modeling resources and training to the international community of social scientists. His publications include five books and monographs and numerous articles in journals such as Evolutionary Anthropology, Ecology and Society, American Antiquity, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Journal of Anthropological Research.

PRESENTATION INFORMATION
Title of Presentation: Looking for the Future in the Past: Long-Term Change in Socioecological Systems
Session Modeling Across Millennia: Interdisciplinary Paths to Ancient Socionatural Systems
Time: Sunday, Feb. 20, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Room: 146B Washington Convention Center
USEFUL WEBSITES
Related article featured in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1931/5275.full)
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY (www.asu.edu)
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (http://clas.asu.edu)
School of Human Evolution and Social Change (http://www.shesc.asu.edu)
Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity (http://cbcs.asu.edu)
Open Agent Based Modeling Consortium (http://www.openabm.org)
Tempe, Arizona USA

Carol Hughes | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>