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The Anthropocene, the nonhuman and the solar system are grand challenges for archaeology

16 Jan 2016, 10:54 UTC
The Anthropocene, the nonhuman and the solar system are grand challenges for archaeology
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What are the grand challenges for archaeology? Last year, a group of mostly US researchers (Kintigh et al 2014) published the results of a survey conducted in order to find out. The result was a series of general research areas and specific questions, most of which are core issues in what we do, but with some inevitable blind spots and holes.Here's a few that resonate with me in terms of my own research in space archaeology (thanks to Publishing Archaeology for extracting them from the paper in a nice list): Why and how do social inequalities emerge, grow, persist, and diminish, and with what consequences?How do humans occupy extreme environments, and what cultural and biological adaptations emerged as a result?How have human activities shaped Earth’s biological and physical systems, and when did humans become dominant drivers of these systems?How do spatial and material reconfigurations of landscapes and experiential fields affect societal development?Archaeology blogger Doug Rocks-Macqueen thinks there's quite a bit more to be said on these grand challenges. He's asked his fellow bloggers to respond in what ever way they choose, and that's a challenge I can't refuse (bursts into song a la Gilbert and Sullivan).Challenges are often something that we let ...

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