We tend to think that the human capacity for changing the face of the planet as a relatively recent development. Often we attribute its beginnings to the industrial revolution. While certainly today humankind is altering the earth on a larger scale and faster pace that is unmatched in our history, our ability to modify large portions of the earth’s ecosystem is by no means a recent phenomenon. In which case, the argument for the start of the Anthropocene is more complicated than previously stated. From fire, to plant and animal domestication, to the extinction of species from around the globe, humans have significantly modified the planet for over 10,000 years. The archaeological record provides important clues to how past people managed entire landscapes successfully and the consequences for societies whose practices were unsustainable.
Associate professor of anthropology, Victor Thompson studies the societies that occupied the coastal and wetland areas of the American Southeast - specifically the ritual and ceremonial landscapes, subsistence systems, and the political development of the peoples who occupied these areas over extended time frames. This lecture should be great. Remember to get there early.
Image: Félix Pharand-Deschênes/Globaïa