Voyages of Discovery: The Archaeology of Islands

Voyages of Discovery: The Archaeology of Islands

Voyages of Discovery: The Archaeology of Islands

Voyages of Discovery: The Archaeology of Islands

Synopsis

Synthesizes the major issues in island archaeological research including human impacts on island ecosystems, island colonization, exchange systems, and theoretical and methodological concerns.

Excerpt

In 2002, I organized a symposium at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference in Denver, Colorado, entitled [The Archaeology of Insularity: Examining the Past in Island Environments.] I wanted to bring together a large and diverse group of archaeologists who had extensive experience working on different islands worldwide so that we could discuss current topics in island archaeology and the role this field of research had in contemporary anthropology. There was also a need to synthesize a growing body of literature that dealt with the methodological and theoretical issues of working on islands. Addressing these concerns was critical for helping the subfield of island archaeology develop as a unique entity. In a vibrant and stimulating session, we examined how humans in the past interacted with their island environments.

The authors who contributed papers to the session approached a number of important issues in island archaeology from many different perspectives. Although these were (and are) certainly challenging issues, one of the most difficult obstacles in studying islands archaeologically is improving communication among researchers working in different regions. It is not surprising to me that the archaeological study of islands and island regions has itself developed in partial isolation compared to other areas of the world or landforms, but it is certainly disconcerting. A testament to this problem is the plethora of excellent regional journals that draw attention to the archaeology of a . . .

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