Published August 27, 2020 | Version Preprint
Journal article Open

Addressing the problem of disappearing cultural landscapes in archaeological research using multi-scalar survey

  • 1. The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2. Binghamton University
  • 3. National Museum of the American Indian


Climate change and anthropogenic activities are actively destroying the archaeological record. The dramatic disappearance of archaeological landscapes becomes particularly problematic when they are also unrecorded. Hidden from view and eroding, these disappearing landscapes likely hold answers to important anthropological questions. As such, disappearing landscapes present a major challenge for twenty-first century archaeology. Left unchecked, this phenomenon will increase the severity of bias in our knowledge of the past. In this paper we use a case study from Pinckney Island in the American Southeast to illustrate how the problem of hidden and disappearing landscapes can be addressed through multi-scalar surveys. Specifically, by combining aerial LiDAR, pedestrian survey, and micro-artifact approaches, the identification of hidden and disappearing cultural materials (including permanent settlements and ephemeral artifact scatters) can be alleviated.



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