We wish to thank first of all the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen for its initiative to launch this project and for its invitation to us to carry it out. We have received valuable suggestions and comments in meetings with directors and members of the Maatschappij. We are particularly grateful to Maarten van Veen and Frans Saris who have shown a strong personal interest in our work throughout its progress. Evidently, this interdisciplinary attempt at synthesis would not have reached its present stage without important contributions from other people, foremost our co-authors who have accepted the challenge to contribute to such an ambitious and multi-faceted adventure.
One of us (BdV) wishes to thank the members of the Balaton Group which in diverse ways contributed to the initial idea and who were instrumental in getting the much appreciated contribution from Emma Romanova of the Department of the Physical Geography of the World, Lomonosov Moscow State University. We also wish to thank participants of two workshops, in Santa Fe and Abisko, on complexity in socio-natural systems who were a great source of inspiration and information. In particular, the contributions on multi-agent simulations from Tim Kohler of the Department of Anthropology of Washington State University, from Dwight Read of the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Statistics of the University of California Los Angeles and from Lena Sanders of the team Géographie-cités of CNRS-Université Paris 1 are appreciated.
We are grateful to David Henley of the KITLV (Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology) in Leiden for sharing his insights on the environmental history of Indonesia and to the scholars who contributed textboxes on some themes–Jan Boersema, Pieter Bol, Paul Erdkamp and Frans Wiggermann. We also wish to thank Hugo Burger of ECN, David Christian, Stephen Mennell and Jan Luiten van Zanden for their inquisitive, helpful and encouraging comments. Last but not least, invaluable assistance in making the maps has been given by Kees Klein Goldewijk of the the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)–his expertise and patient persistence made it possible to communicate not only by words but also by maps and graphs.