Placing archaeology at the center of socio-natural studies

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147 Scopus citations


Changing patterns of university and government research and training in this country and abroad force its, as archaeologists, to regularly reevaluate our disciplinary methods and goals. In the absence of careful consideration of these issues, the relative prominence of archaeology may stagnate or even diminish. From our own experience directing large multidisciplinary research projects, we believe that one particularly productive avenue for future archaeological research will be as collaborators in seeking to better understand contemporary socioenvironmental problems. We argue that current environmental research based in life, earth, and social sciences pays inadequate attention to the long time span and slow-moving processes that often underlie environmental crises. Archaeologists, as purveyors of the past, are well equipped to bring this long-term perspective to bear on contemporary issues. Moreover, we are also trained to work in multiple scales of time and space as well as with scientists from various disciplines. The primary obstacles to achieving the type of transdisciplinary research recommended here emanate from distinct vocabulary, concepts, and practices of each disciplinary tradition. We believe that the time is right and our colleagues are willing to see an enhanced role for archaeologists in the study of contemporary environmental issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-605
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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