The value of (palaeo)ecology to archaeology and the Historic Environment: Kirsty High and Zoe Hazell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster




ConferenceCrossing the Palaeontological - Ecological Gap
Abbreviated titleCPEG
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Conference date(s)30/08/1831/08/18
Internet address

Publication details

DateUnpublished - 2018
Original languageEnglish


The close connections between the Archaeological–Palaeoecological–Ecological communities are particularly evident at wetland sites. The waterlogged conditions which make such sites important in terms of biodiversity and modern Ecology also result in the exceptional preservation of the organic deposits at depth. These sediments contain palaeoecological remains used to identify past economies and reconstruct former landscapes and environmental conditions, as well as preserving organic archaeological remains.
Whilst the shared interests of Archaeology and Palaeoecology are relatively clear, the relationships between Archaeology (and the Historic Environment more widely) and modern Ecology are more subtle; potential links include managing sites using traditional heritage techniques (e.g. coppicing, reed beds), and/or sourcing materials for modern comparative reference collections or experimental archaeology.
Although all three groups have the common desire for the long-term preservation of wetland sites and their constituent deposits, the impact of environmental changes (e.g. through land management practises) on the condition and preservation of organic remains in wetlands is often overlooked. Better understanding these impacts is vital in determining the viability of their long-term preservation in-situ; obtaining initial condition data (e.g. through molecular analysis and/or scoring systems) is rarely undertaken, yet provides a crucial baseline against which subsequent data can be compared.
Using a series of case studies, we will demonstrate the inter-disciplinary connections between Archaeology, Palaeoecology and Ecology. By illustrating the role of Palaeo(Ecology) in understanding the Historic Environment, from site- to landscape-scale, we argue the importance of better protecting and understanding this unique resource in the face of environmental changes.

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