Published July 5, 2019 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Studying Human Responses to Environmental Change: Trends and Trajectories of Archaeological Research


Environmental archaeological enquiry has a long and vibrant history. Many of the same questions have persisted in archaeological dialogues over the past century. In particular, the effects of environmental change on demographic patterns, health, and societal stability are among the most pervasive questions being addressed by anthropological research. These studies have limitations, however. For example, evaluations of the complex relationships between environmental variables and human responses are only just beginning to emerge in anthropological literature. This goal requires high-resolution paleoclimate datasets and the use of quantitative modelling rooted in evolutionary and complex systems theory. This paper serves as a broad review of advances in environmental archaeological enquiry associated with environmental change and human response. I argue that the future of archaeological questions concerning human-environmental connection requires a re-evaluation of causality and the incorporation of complex systems approaches to address human responses to external pressures.