Welcome to Environmental Archaeology
Environmental archaeology is the interdisciplinary study of past human interactions with the natural world - a world that encompasses plants, animals, and landscapes. We seek to reconstruct ancient environments associated with archaeological sites and the use of plants, animals, and landscapes by the people who once inhabited these sites. We are interested in the impact people had on the world around them, and the way ancient peoples perceived and were affected by their surroundings and the plants and animals on which they relied.
News and Announcements
Earth Day and Ask a Scientist Events
• Do you know how to turn a deer bone into a flute? A hair pin? A sewing needle?
• Did you know the first game dice was made from an animal's ankle bone?
• Did you know potatoes were originally domesticated in the South American Andes?
• Do you know why there are so many breeds of dogs? (And did you know that a chihuahua is the same species as a wolf?!?)
Students and volunteers of the Environmental Archaeology Program (EAP) have been answering these questions and more over the last month at the Powell Hall museum at both the Earth Day (April 18th) and "Ask a Scientist" (May 17th) events.
As always at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH), Earth Day was a massive affair with over 1200 visitors! With sustainability on the mind, EAP zooarchaeologists showcased a number of ancient and modern animal tooth and bone tools to demonstrate the variety of ways these materials can be recycled. Visitors were invited to test their skill at tossing a deer astragalus (ankle bone), one of the earliest game dice. They also learned how a deer leg bone could be carved into a pin, and examine a number of shark bone artifacts, including a shark tooth trident from Fiji!
The EAP team was also present at the FLMNH's ongoing "Ask a Scientist" series this May, answering - and raising a few - questions about the fascinating origins of our common domesticated plants and animals. Visitors could examine several skulls from different dog breeds and compare them to their common ancestor, the wolf, in order to see what effects domestication had on our canine companions. They could also view one of the earliest domesticated guinea pigs in the world, preserved as a natural mummy from an archaeological site in Peru. Finally, visitors could test their knowledge of where in the world common fruits and vegetables were originally domesticated, as well as try their hand at grinding cacao beans into chocolate powder as was first done in ancient Mesoamerica.
EAP scientists will be back for future museum events, exhibiting the wide variety of topics that environmental archaeologists study about our planet, its history, and its people. Stop by and see us next time!
Earth Day Photo Gallery
Click the thumbnails for a larger image and caption!
Ask a Scientist Photo Gallery
Maya Zooarchaeology: New Directions in Method and Theory, edited by EA curator Kitty Emery, is now available as a FREE PDF ebook on the University of California's open-access depository, eScholarship: Maya Zooarchaeology PDF
Print-on-demand copies of Maya Zooarchaeology are also available for a small fee from Lulu.com. Click HERE to purchase a copy.
Motul de San José
Motul de San José: Politics, History, and Economy in a Classic Maya Polity, edited by Antonia Foias and Kitty Emery, is now available in paperback form. For more information, including an excerpt chapter from the volume, check out the University of Florida Press website HERE.