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Soils, Climate and Society

Archaeological Investigations in Ancient America

Edited by John D. Wingard and Sue Eileen Hayes

Publication Year: 2013

Much recent archaeological research focuses on social forces as the impetus for cultural change. Soils, Climate and Society, however, focuses on the complex relationship between human populations and the physical environment, particularly the land—the foundation of agricultural production and, by extension, of agricultural peoples.

The volume traces the origins of agriculture, the transition to agrarian societies, the sociocultural implications of agriculture, agriculture’s effects on population, and the theory of carrying capacity, considering the relation of agriculture to the profound social changes that it wrought in the New World. Soil science plays a significant, though varied, role in each case study, and is the common component of each analysis. Soil chemistry is also of particular importance to several of the studies, as it determines the amount of food that can be produced in a particular soil and the effects of occupation or cultivation on that soil, thus having consequences for future cultivators.

Soils, Climate and Society demonstrates that renewed investigation of agricultural production and demography can answer questions about the past, as well as stimulate further research. It will be of interest to scholars of archaeology, historical ecology and geography, and agricultural history.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. 1-5


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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xii-xi

We are grateful to the many individuals who have contributed to this volume. Most of the chapters were first presented at a symposium we organized for the 72nd Annual Meeting of the ...

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Introduction: A User’s Guide to Soils,Climate, and Society

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pp. xiii-xvi

From their emergence between 3,000 and 8,000 years ago until the Industrial Revolution, agricultural societies were the most culturally complex and advanced societies in the world. Despite the rise of industrial ...

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1: Population Estimatesfor Anthropogenically Enriched Soils: (Amazonian Dark Earths)

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pp. 1-20

Until fairly recently, there were two opposing models of the density, size, shape, and duration of Amazonian pre- Columbian settlements. One group of scientists believed environmental conditions in the ...

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2: Soilscape Legacies: Historical and Emerging Consequences of Socioecological Interactions in Honduras

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pp. 21-59

Charles Kellogg was probably not thinking about archaeology more than seventy years ago when he wrote his groundbreaking popular book about soils and our interactions with them. Prior to the 1950s, ...

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3: Drought, Subsistence Stress, and Population Dynamics: Assessing Mississippian Abandonment of the Vacant Quarter

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pp. 61-83

The idea that prehistoric agriculturally based chiefdoms underwent periods of emergence, expansion, collapse, and reemergence has received much attention in the archaeological literature of eastern ...

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4: Mimbres Mogollon Farming: Estimating Prehistoric Agricultural Production during the Classic Mimbres Period

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pp. 85-107

From AD 950/1000 to AD 1130/1150, southwestern New Mexico experienced a remarkable efflorescence of cultural development along the Mimbres River, marked by the development of masonry pueblo ...

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5: So Who’s Counting? Modeling Pre-Columbian Agricultural Potential in the Maya World

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pp. 109-130

Many people elsewhere in the social sciences believe economists have always been quantitatively oriented, constructing and using complex analytical and predictive models. While the present ...

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6: Tilling the Fields and Building the Temples: Assessing the Relationship among Land, Labor, and Classic Maya Elite Power in the Copán Valley, Honduras

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pp. 131-155

Archaeologists take different approaches to understanding the past. These approaches vary from those that rely heavily on data bound by the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology to those that rely much ...

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7: An EPIC Challenge: Estimating Site Population in South Coastal Peru

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pp. 157-173

The Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) agricultural simulation program was extensively discussed in chapter 5, which described testing its use in population estimation at Baking Pot, Belize. Wingard’s very different application of ...

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8: Feeding the Masses: New Perspectives on Maya Agriculture from Cerén, El Salvador

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pp. 175-204

The Classic period (ca. AD 250–950) Maya site of Cerén, located in El Salvador, is well-known in archaeological literature for its rapid burial in volcanic ash and its subsequent exceptional preservation of a moment ...

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9: How Can We Know?: The Epistemological Foundation of Ecological Modeling in Archaeology

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pp. 205-223

Economic-demographic explanations for the origins of inequality and the transition to agriculture have a deep history in anthropological literature (Berreman 1981; Boserup 1965; McCorriston and Hole 1991; Morgan 1877; Rindos 1984; Tylor 1871). Since the ...


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pp. 225-225


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pp. 227-233

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322139
E-ISBN-10: 1607322137
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322030
Print-ISBN-10: 160732203X

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 11 B&W photos, 15 line illustrations, 11 maps, 29 tables
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 834144282
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Soils, Climate and Society

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Subject Headings

  • Indians -- Agriculture.
  • Soil science in archaeology -- America.
  • Human ecology -- America.
  • Agriculture, Prehistoric -- America.
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