Science in Archaeology 2

December 2, 2022

This year I have a two week slot in the “Science in Archaeology 2” program that is part of the Minor “Archaeology Today: (Digital) science in Archaeology”. In my section of the course we have covered three key topics this year: humans and fire, humans and animals, and humans and domestication. For each topic there was a lecture and a discussion component, and students got to present their favourite scientific paper on one of these topics.

This year discussions have been particularly fun as we have such a broad range of students taking the minor. In addition to the ‘usual’ archaeologists we have, among others, historians, data science and environmental science students from a range of universities across the Netherlands. So regardless of your background if you are interested in archaeology then maybe this minor is for you…

Papers studied this year were:

  • Abel-Schaad, D., & López-Sáez, J. A. (2013). Vegetation changes in relation to fire history
    and human activities at the Peña Negra mire (Bejar Range, Iberian Central Mountain System,
    Spain) during the past 4,000 years. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 22(3), 199-214.
  • de Boer, E.J., Vélez, M.I., Rijsdijk, K.F., de Louw, P.G., Vernimmen, T.J., Visser, P.M., Tjallingii, R. & Hooghiemstra, H. (2015) A deadly cocktail: How a drought around 4200 cal. yr BP caused mass mortality events at the infamous ‘Dodo swamp’ in Mauritius. The Holocene 25, 758-771. DOI:
  • Bos, J.A.A., van Geel, B., Groenewoudt, B.J. & Lauwerier, R.C.G.M. (2005) Early Holocene environmental change, the presence and disappearance of early Mesolithic habitation near Zutphen (The Netherlands). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 15, 27-43. DOI:
  • Cañellas Boltà, N., Rull del Castillo, V., Sáez, A., Margalef Marrasé, O., Bao Casal, R., Pla Rabés, S., Blaauw, M., Valero Garcés, B.L. & Giralt Romeu, S. (2013) Vegetation changes and human settlement of Easter Island during the last millennia: a multiproxy study of the Lake Raraku sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews. DOI:
  • Cook, D.E., Beach, T.P., Luzzadder-Beach, S., Dunning, N.P. & Turner, S.D. (2022) Environmental legacy of pre-Columbian Maya mercury. Frontiers in Environmental Science. DOI:
  • Edwards, K.J., Schofield, J.E. & Mauquoy, D. (2008) High resolution paleoenvironmental and chronological investigations of Norse landnám at Tasiusaq, Eastern Settlement, Greenland. Quaternary Research 69, 1-15. DOI:
  • Fuchs, M. (2007). An assessment of human versus climatic impacts on Holocene soil erosion in NE Peloponnese, Greece. Quaternary Research, 67(3), 349–356. DOI:
  • Garcin, Y., Deschamps, P., Ménot, G., de Saulieu, G., Schefuß, E., Sebag, D., Dupont, L.M., Oslisly, R., Brademann, B., Mbusnum, K.G., Onana, J., Ako, A.A., Epp, L.S., Tjallingii, R., Strecker, M.R., Brauer, A. & Sachse, D. (2018) Early anthropogenic impact on Western Central African rainforests 2,600 y ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – PNAS 115, 3261-3266. DOI:
  • Hoffmann, R.C. (1994) Remains and verbal evidence of carp (Cyprinus carpio) in medieval Europe. Annales – Musee Royal de l’Afrique Centrale – Sciences Zoologiques (Belgium) 274. LINK:
  • McMichael, C., Piperno, D., Neves, E., Bush, M., Almeida, F. & Mongela, G. (2015) Phytolith assemblages along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3. DOI:
  • McWethy, D. B., Whitlock, C., Wilmshurst, J. M., McGlone, M. S., Fromont, M., Li, X.,Dieffenbacher-Krall, A., Hobbs, W. O., Fritz, S. C., & Cook, E. R. (2010). Rapid landscape transformation inSouth Island, New Zealand, following initial Polynesian settlement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(50), 21343–21348. DOI:
  • Ndiaye, A., Bentaleb, I., Favier, C., Fourel, F., Sebag, D., Fall, M., Giresse, P. & Diouf, B. (2022) Reconstruction of the holocene climate and environmental changes of Niayes peat bog in northern coast of Senegal based on stable isotopes and charcoals analysis. Quaternary Science Reviews 289, 107609. DOI:
  • Nogué, S., de Nascimento, L., Fernández-Palacios, J. M., Whittaker, R. J., & Willis, K. J. (2013). The ancient forests of La Gomera, Canary Islands, and their sensitivity to environmental change. Journal of Ecology, 101(2), 368–377. DOI:
  • Novák, J., Roleček, J., Dresler, P. & Hájek, M. (2019) Soil charcoal elucidates the role of humans in the development of landscape of extreme biodiversity. Land Degradation & Development 30, 1607-1619. DOI:
  • Purugganan, M. D., & Fuller, D. Q. (2009). The nature of selection during plant domestication.
    Nature, 457(7231), 843–848. DOI:
  • Reitsema, L.J., Kozłowski, T. & Makowiecki, D. (2013) Human–environment interactions in medieval Poland: a perspective from the analysis of faunal stable isotope ratios. Journal of Archaeological Science 40, 3636-3646. DOI:
  • Rius, D., Vannière, B., Galop, D. & Richard, H. (2011) Holocene fire regime changes from multiple-site sedimentary charcoal analyses in the Lourdes basin (Pyrenees, France). Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 1696-1709. DOI:
  • Rull, V. (2009). New palaeoecological evidence for the potential role of fire in the Gran Sabana, Venezuelan Guayana, and implications for early human occupation. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 18, 219-224. DOI:
  • Van der Putten, N., Verbruggen, C., Ochyra, R., Spassov, S., de Beaulieu, J.L., De Dapper, M., Hus, J. & Thouveny, N. (2009) Peat bank growth, Holocene palaeoecology and climate history of South Georgia (sub-Antarctica), based on a botanical macrofossil record. Quaternary Science Reviews 65-79. DOI:

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