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Human--environment interactions in Australia and New Guinea during the Holocene

by T. Denham, S. Mooney
The Holocene ()


During the long history of human occupation in Australia and New Guinea, any interaction between people and their environment has been played out against changing sociocultural and environmental contexts. Although archaeologists have used palaeoenvironmental data to better characterize the relationships between humans and their environment, and palaeoecologists and geomorphologists have likewise used archaeological and historical information to augment their interpretations, it is our contention that few Australian and New Guinean studies have truly integrated these perspectives. Often archaeologists and palaeoenvironmentalists use each other's information in a one-dimensional manner, tendencies that have yielded simplistic interpretations of the past that overemphasize intentional or unintentional human causation on the one hand, and climatic and environmental causation on the other. We discuss three issues relevant to a more integrated understanding of the past: conceptualizing human-environment interactions, issues of scale and perspective, and multidisciplinary research integration in Australia and New Guinea.

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