Special Issue "Human Activities and Development of Food Production in the Holocene"

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marc Vander Linden
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Archaeology & Anthropology, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB, UK
Interests: archaeology; late prehistoric European archaeology; demography; computational and statistical modelling
Dr. Philip Riris
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Archaeology & Anthropology, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, BH12 5BB, UK
Interests: archaeology; climate change; computational modelling; demography; rock art

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

One of the defining traits of human societies in the Holocene is the adoption of farming, that is, systems of production that involve the management of domesticated plants and animals to varying degrees. This technological innovation is related to shifts in demographic regimes and increased anthropic pressure on the environment, processes whose combined and cumulative impact sets apart the Holocene from other geological periods. As productivity demands increase, due, for instance, to demographic pressure, human societies have developed two general strategies to assure the required supply of calories: land use expansion (i.e., conversion from one land class to land primarily dedicated to food production) and intensification (i.e., practices that increase land productivity and/or alter ecosystem properties).
Recent research, furthermore, underscores the diversity within and between known hearths of domestication across the globe. The adaptive strategies that emerged from structural transformations to human–environment relationships display a concordant variety of configurations, with specific long-term trajectories and consequences. This quality is a challenge to global syntheses of ancient land use change, as archaeology and allied disciplines are pressed to systematise diverse data to a degree that facilitates comparisons. Proposed solutions include adopting approaches from socio-ecological systems (SES), middle-range theory and computational modelling, as well as interdisciplinary dialogue, all of which archaeologists are actively engaging with.
Contributions to this Special Issue will explore the range of strategies deployed to expand and/or intensify land productivity, including, but not restricted to, introduction of domesticates outside of their original ecological niches, modification of domesticate behaviour and/or properties, settlement in diversified landscapes, investment in landesque capital/infrastructure, and changes to demographic and/or social regimes. We also invite perspectives on the challenges that can follow from socio-ecological regime shifts under land use expansion/intensification, for example, impacts on biodiversity, human health and mortality, runaway environmental feedbacks and institutional change.
Contributions are requested from any geographical, chronological or methodological perspective, with regional and comparative syntheses being particularly welcome.

Dr. Marc Vander Linden
Dr. Philip Riris
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Holocene
  • farming
  • domesticates
  • land use

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
A Tale of Maize, Palm, and Pine: Changing Socio-Ecological Interactions from Pre-Classic Maya to the Present Day in Belize
Quaternary 2020, 3(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3040030 - 17 Oct 2020
Abstract
The environmental impact of the ancient Maya, and subsequent ecological recovery following the Terminal Classic decline, have been the key foci of research into socio-ecological interactions in the Yucatán peninsula. These foci, however, belie the complex pattern of resource exploitation and agriculture associated [...] Read more.
The environmental impact of the ancient Maya, and subsequent ecological recovery following the Terminal Classic decline, have been the key foci of research into socio-ecological interactions in the Yucatán peninsula. These foci, however, belie the complex pattern of resource exploitation and agriculture associated with post-Classic Maya societies and European colonisation. We present a high-resolution, 1200-year record of pollen and charcoal data from a 52-cm short core extracted from New River Lagoon, near to the European settlement of Indian Church, northern Belize. This study complements and extends a previous 3500-year reconstruction of past environmental change, located 1-km north of the new record and adjacent to the ancient Maya site of Lamanai. This current study shows a mixed crop production and palm agroforestry management strategy of the ancient Maya, which corroborates previous evidence at Lamanai. Comparison of the two records suggests that core agricultural and agroforestry activities shifted southwards, away from the centre of Lamanai, beginning at the post-Classic period. The new record also demonstrates that significant changes in land-use were not associated with drought at the Terminal Classic (ca. CE 1000) or the European Encounter (ca. CE 1500), but instead resulted from social and cultural change in the post-Classic period (CE 1200) and new economies associated with the British timber trade (CE 1680). The changes in land-use documented in two adjacent records from the New River Lagoon underline the need to reconstruct human–environment interactions using multiple, spatially, and temporally diverse records. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Activities and Development of Food Production in the Holocene)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Mid and Late Holocene seasonal cultivation stability, semi-sedentism and landscape use at the Monte Castelo shell mound, SW Amazonia.
Authors: Laura Furquim, Jennifer Watling, Lautaro Hilbert, Myrtle P. Shock, Carlos Zimpel Neto, Francisco Pugliese Jr, Eduardo Neves
Affiliation: University of Sao Paulo, Butanta, São Paulo - State of São Paulo, Brazil
Abstract: The archaeology of the South American lowlands presents relevant issues for understanding the Holocene development of plant domestication, the origins of agriculture, and the onset of ceramic technology. This article offers new data about plant cultivation and mobility patterns in Southwestern Amazonia during the transition between the Middle and Late Holocene, a period of climate change that preceded demographic expansion and intensification of cultivation in the Amazon. The Monte Castelo shell mound, occupied between ca. 7,500 and 650 B.P., is located in an ecotonal area within what is today a seasonally-flooded savannah – forest transition, and presents near continuous occupations that allow us to test the hypothesis that plant cultivation, emergence of agriculture and sedentism were correlated in the Middle Holocene. Through the diachronic analysis of carbonized plant remains, phytoliths and starch grains, we address an ecology of resource use and its implications for the areas managed and landscape changes. Grains, legumes, fruits, and oilseeds were consumed, from native and exotic plants of both short and medium lifecycles that grow in different ecological niches, such as savannas, forests and floodplains. The additional local process of rice domestication seems to be linked to the formation of a regional interethnic network. We propose that the patterns of plant management and cultivation imply recurrent human occupation, a stable polyculture agroforestry and forms of mobility that involve a fluid dwelling pattern, different from and rejecting a traditional classification within the evolutionary dichotomy between hunter-gatherers and farmers.

Title: Estimating Uncertainty in Holocene Settlement Patterns and Anthropogenic Influence in Central African Rain Forests
Authors: Christopher A. Kiahtipes
Affiliation: Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and the Environment, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, United States
Abstract: The archaeology and paleoecology of Central Africa’s rain forests present a number of puzzles for archaeological and paleoecological researchers. Anthropogenic influence on these forest systems in the present is widely recognized, but the trajectories of human influence are widely disputed, with some claiming anthropogenic impacts as a primary driver of Late Holocene vegetation change and others claiming that a profound “third millennium forest crisis” triggered human settlement of the region. These claims are typically made through some comparison of archaeological and paleoecological data, but we have failed thus far to delimit the basic boundaries of research in the region. As the density in archaeological and paleoecological research has risen of the last decades, it appears that the state of research questions and our understanding of research priorities has changed relatively little. This paper evaluates the distribution of archaeological and paleoecological data in Holocene Central Africa, establishes estimates of uncertainty for different models of forest settlement, and offers some case studies to highlight future research directions.

Title: Disentangling Domestication from Food Production Systems in the Neotropics
Authors: Charles R. Clement 1,*, Alejandro Casas 2,*, Fabiola Alexandra Parra-Rondinel 3, Nivaldo Peroni 4, Carolina Levis 5, Gustavo Lemes 6, José Blancas 7, Selene Rangel-Landa 8, Natalia Hanazaki 9, Guilherme Mazzochini 10, Mariana Franco Cassino 11, Rubana Palhares Alves 12, Sara Deambrozi Coelho 13, Aldo Cruz 14, Marggiori Pancorbo 15

Affiliation: 1   Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Av. André Araújo, 2936 – Petrópolis, 69067-375 Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Orcid: 0000-0002-8421-1029

2   Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (campus Morelia), Antigua Carretera a Pátzcuaro No. 8701, Col. Ex Hacienda de San José de la Huerta, 58190 Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. Orcid: 0000-0002-8181-5118

3   Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Av. La Molina, s/n – La Molina, 15024 Lima, Perú. Orcid: 0000-0001-6612-5250

4   Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, s/n – Trindade, 88040-970 Florianópolis, Santa Caterina, Brazil. Orcid: 0000-0002-6770-5377

5   Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, s/n – Trindade, 88040-970 Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Orcid: 0000-0002-8425-9479

6   Curso de Graduação em Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, s/n – Trindade, 88040-970 Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Orcid: 0000-0001-5428-1846

7   Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Conservación (CIByC), Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Av. Universidad 1001, Colonia Chamilpa, 62290 Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. Orcid: 0000-0002-2097-5337

8   Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Antigua Carretera a Pátzcuaro No. 8701, Col. Ex Hacienda de San José de la Huerta, 58190 Morelia, Michoacán, México. Orcid: 0000-0003-3644-7288

9   Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, s/n – Trindade, 88040-970 Florianópolis, Santa Caterina, Brazil. Orcid: 0000-0002-7876-6044

10  Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Rua Charles Darwin, s/n - Cidade Universitária, 13083-863 Campinas, São Paulo, Brasil. Orcid: 0000-0002-6932-8544

11  Programa de Pós-Graduação em Botânica, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Av. André Araújo, 2936 – Petrópolis, 69067-375 Manaus, Amazonas, Brasil. Orcid: 0000-0002-1224-5094

12  Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia. Av. André Araújo, 2936 – Petrópolis, 69067-375 Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Orcid number: 0000-0001-5615-2511

13  Rua Alegria, 72 – Centro, 29190-230 Aracruz, Espírito Santo, Brasil. Orcid: 0000-0002-3504-3436

14  Coordinadora de Ciencia y Tecnología en los Andes – CCTA, Camilo Carrillo 300-A, 15072 Lima, Perú. Orcid: 0000-0002-7746-4327

15  Centro de Investigaciones en Zonas Áridas, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Jr. Camilo Carrillo 300-A – Jesús María, 15072 Lima, Perú. Orcid: 0000-0002-9643-1774

Abstract: The Neolithic Revolution narrative associates early-mid Holocene domestications with the development of agriculture that permitted the rise of late Holocene civilizations. This narrative continues influential, even though it has been deconstructed by archaeologists and geneticists in its homeland. In the Neotropics, there was no agriculture before European conquest; here a wide variety of silvicultural, horticultural and agroforestry food production systems fueled the rise of late Holocene states and hundreds of other societies. To disentangle domestication from the development of food production systems, we revisit definitions of plant and landscape domestication to identify key behaviors that drive the processes, such as selection, accumulation and caring for plants. We synthesize and compare Mesoamerican, Andean, Amazonian and other lowland South American examples of plant and landscape domestication. We propose that plant and landscape domestication started in the late Pleistocene, not in the Holocene, since this co-evolutionary process is shaped by common behaviors and practices of daily life. We consider that plant domestication starts when humans arrive in any region and protect, disperse and propagate their direct and indirect selections, at which time the traits of the domestication syndrome show only incipient changes. The stage of incipient changes may remain for a long time or continue to change depending on cultural interests and on the biology and demography of species; relatively few species present clearly differentiated domestication syndrome traits. Tens of thousands of plant species are gathered in the Neotropics, thousands are tolerated, protected, dispersed and propagated, and around two thousand are cultivated, with larger numbers in Mesoamerica, Amazonia and the Andes, and fewer in other areas. Among the cultivated species, most are incipient domesticates, with a predominance of perennial crops in Mesoamerica, Amazonia and the other South American lowlands, such as the Atlantic Forest and a predominance of annual crops in the Andes. This synthesis reveals that domestication is more common in the Neotropics than previously recognized and started much earlier than reliance on food production systems.

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