The Archaeology and Historical Ecology of Small Scale Economies

Edited by Victor D. Thompson and James C. Waggoner Jr.

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"An important book that brings together a global set of in-depth studies of small scale hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies and explores the myriad of ways people shape and manage their landscapes. Perhaps most important, this volume shows how archaeological data are relevant to our understanding of modern human-environment relationships."--Matthew Hill Jr., University of Iowa

"Demonstrates what should have been intuitively understood long ago, that groups of humans did not just interact with their environment but shaped it."--Brad Logan, Kansas State University

Most research into humans' impact on the environment has focused on large-scale societies; a corollary assumption has been that small scale economies are sustainable and in harmony with nature. The contributors to this volume challenge this notion, revealing how such communities shaped their environment--and not always in a positive way.
Offering case studies from around the world--from Brazil to Japan, Denmark to the Rocky Mountains--the chapters empirically demonstrate the substantial transformations of the surrounding landscape made by hunter-gatherer and limited horticultural societies. Summarizing previous research as well as presenting new data, this book shows that the environmental impact and legacy of societies are not always proportional their size.
Understanding that our species leaves a footprint wherever it has been leads to both a better understanding of our prehistoric past and to deeper implications for our future relationship to the world around us.

Victor D. Thompson is assistant professor at the University of Georgia. James C. Waggoner Jr. (1971–2009) conducted archaeological research in the southeastern United States.

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“The editors focus on exactly how human-environment processes are disentangled which, they argue, is the key to addressing broader issues… the case studies are well-chosen and convincing.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal

“The disciplined study of small-scale societies is a valuable framework that tests notions of environmental determinism, and will revise theories about human resilience, cultural development, and the “sense of place” of pre-modern peoples.” Geoarchaeology

An excellent contribution that will be of interest to a variety of scholars. It offers a unique perspective on the rage of historical ecological studies and the future direction of the discipline.-- Journal of Anthropological Research

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