Ecological Approaches to Archaeological Research in Central Mexico

Emily McClung de Tapia

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Ecological Approaches to Archaeological Research in Central Mexico

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  • Archaeology
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  • Landscape Archaeology


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Ecological thinking applied to archaeological problems has evolved considerably over the past two decades. This article examines some of the perspectives that have developed in Mesoamerican archaeology and what the future may hold. Two significant developments have emerged in response to many of the difficulties associated with ecologically oriented research problems. One reflects a movement away from equilibrium models in ecology toward nonlinear dynamic models of systems and interactions among variables within the system. The other refers to the various ways in which this paradigm shift has played out in anthropology and archaeology. New approaches to the study of human-natural relations include the emphasis on complex adaptive systems within the framework of resilience theory and what has been called historical ecology, which also incorporates some of the fundamental concepts associated with dynamic systems in ecology. While neither of these perspectives has had a significant impact in Mesoamerican archaeology as yet, they provide useful tools for visualizing complex relationships in a historical perspective, based on local and regional developments.

Keywords: Mesoamerican archaeology; ecological thinking; archaeological problems; resilience theory; historical ecology

Article.  5018 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; Landscape Archaeology

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