The 11th Mapping Ancient Africa seminar took place on Thursday 16 March (2023). The seminar was delivered by Hannah Keller (Yale University) and highlighted her ongoing research into ostrich egg shells and environmental change she is undertaking as part of the “Malawi Ancient Lifeways and Peoples” project.
I am excited to announce that I have recently joined the “Advisory Editorial Board” of The Holocene journal. Many thanks to editor-in-chief John Matthews for the invitation. Interesting to join a very experienced team, which includes both my PhD and post-doc supervisors; the esteemed Frank Mayle and Mark Bush! I look forward to receiving interesting new papers to examine.
The Holocene journal publishes research, review and forum papers focused on environmental change during the Holocene (last 11,700 years). It encourages the submission of manuscripts with an interdisciplinary approach covering palaeoenvironments, palaeoclimate, palaeoecology, palaeohydrology, palaeopedology, palaeoceanography and geo-archaeology. So if you have a some research in this area that you are looking for a home for please check out the details aims and scope, and criteria on the journal web page, click here.
As part of this years BSc Palaeoecology course at the University of Amsterdam we visited the Department of Archaeology. Organised by Anja Fischer we visited the human bone collection, the animal bone collection and the archaeobotany section. Amazing collections and lots of opportunities for cross faculty projects and teaching.
In addition to explaining the physical reference collections Anja also explained how she has been developing data mining techniques to allow information to be synthesised from the thousands of archaeological reports across the Netherlands.
She used this approach to make new discoveries about the role of urban farming and ruralisation in Dutch history. Her findings formed a report for the Dutch national heritage organisation (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed) which can be downloaded for free (in English).
Fischer, A., van Londen, H., Blonk, A., Visser, R.M. & Renes, J. (2021) Urban Farming and Ruralisation in The Netherlands (1250-1850): Unravelling farming practice and the use of (open) space by synthesising archaeological reports using text mining. Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 68. Download free here.
The Palaeoecology Research Group within the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology, Jena, Germany is pleased to announce a new vacancy for a doctoral student exploring human-environment interactions in the Caribbean. The position will be based in Jena, Germany for a period of 3 years with the option for extensions and supervised by Dr. Yoshi Maezumi.
The Palaeoecology Research Group analyses palaeoecological and archaeobotanical proxies from sedimentary archives, including pollen, phytoliths, charcoal and stable isotopes to examine topics including the legacy of human land-use on ecosystems, spatio-temporal patterns of natural and human-driven fire activity, and the influence of natural and human disturbance regimes on the biogeographic distribution of plants and animals in past ecosystems.
Nascimento, M.N., Heijink, B.M., Bush, M.B., Gosling, W.D. & McMichael, C.N.H. (2022) Early to mid-Holocene human activity exerted gradual influences on Amazonian forest vegetation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 377, 20200498. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0498
Bush, M.B., Rozas-Davila, A., Raczka, M., Nascimento, M., Valencia, B., Sales, R.K., McMichael, C.N.H. & Gosling, W.D. (2022) A palaeoecological perspective on the transformation of the tropical Andes by early human activity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 377, 20200497. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0497
Gosling WD, Maezumi SY, Heijink BM, Nascimento MN, Raczka MF, van der Sande MT, Bush MB, McMichael CNH. 2021. Scarce fire activity in north and north-western Amazonian forests during the last 10,000 years. Plant Ecology & Diversity. DOI: 10.1080/17550874.2021.2008040
The recently published volume of the Palaeoecology of Africa series contains a number of different types of papers: research articles, reviews, perspectives and data papers. One of the key reasons I was motivated to become involved in the project was to help mobilise palaeoecological data from Africa towards open access datasets (African Pollen Database, Neotoma). To hopefully get greater recognition to the great work done over the years and to help facilitate synthetic work that will provide a greater understanding of spatial variance in past climate change. Ultimately, four short data papers were included in the volume: an enhanced c. 16,000 year pollen record from the Bale Mountains in Ethiopia (Gil-Romera et al. 2021), two pollen and charcoal record from the southern Cape Coast in South Africa, c. 3200 and 650 years long respectively (du Plessis et al. 2021a; du Plessis et al. 2021b), and a c. 700 year long record from Madagascar (Razanatsoa et al. 2021). The records provide new insights in to landscape scale environmental change driven by both humans and climate. To find out more check out the open access articles and the data at:
Kaboth-Bahr S, Gosling WD, Vogelsang R, Bahr A, Scerri EML, Asrat A, Cohen AS, Düsing W, Foerster V, Lamb HF, et al. 2021. Paleo-ENSO influence on African environments and early modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118(23):e2018277118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2018277118