Author: Anya Galli
On February 18th, the PSE Workshop hosted UMD Anthropology professor and zooarcheologist George Hambrecht for a talk detailing the potential of archeological sites for studying long-term interactions between humans and the environment. The talk, titled “Archaeological Sites as Distributed Observing Networks for Long-term Global Environmental Change,” provided an overview of current studies that use archeological data to understand changes in climate, ecosystems, food chains, and human and animal migration.
Hambrecht tailored his presentation for a non-anthropology audience, talking more broadly about the range of studies being conducted, rather than the methodological nitty-gritty of the projects. Although methods geeks like myself might have craved a bit more detail, the breadth of the presentation allowed Hambrecht to show the myriad ways that society-environment interactions can be understood through the stuff (mainly food waste) that humans have thrown away across the centuries.
“I dig through history’s trash,” Hambrecht said, and what he finds there opens up an entirely new perspective on ecosystems, climate change, and humankind’s long-term relationship to the natural world.