Looking for the future in the past: Long-term change in socioecological systems

C Michael Barton, Isaac I T Ullah, Sean M. Bergin, Helena Mitasova, Hessam Sarjoughian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The archaeological record has been described as a key to the long-term consequences of human action that can help guide our decisions today. Yet the sparse and incomplete nature of this record often makes it impossible to inferentially reconstruct past societies in sufficient detail for them to serve as more than very general cautionary tales of coupled socio-ecological systems. However, 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. In this way, knowledge generated by archaeology can play a unique and valuable role in developing the tools to make more informed decisions that will shape our future. The Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics project offers an example of using the past to develop and test computational models of interactions between land-use and landscape evolution that ultimately may help guide decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Modelling
StatePublished - Aug 24 2012


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Agricultural land-use
  • Archaeology
  • Coupled modeling
  • Prehistoric Mediterranean
  • Simulation
  • Socio-ecological systems
  • Surface process modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling


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