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Volume 30
Number 2
Fall 2013
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						Resource managers investigate an archeological site on the shore at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
					In Focus: Archeology in Park Management
Archeological contributions to climate change studies: Past, present, and future
By Erin C. Dempsey and Dawn Bringelson
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Landscape change and archeology at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Geoarcheological investigations at Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Conclusions and further study
About the authors
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Photo of the Current River at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

NPS MWAC/Erin Dempsey

The Current River valley has been home to humans for most of the last 12,000 years. Dynamic environmental change during that time period has affected the preservation of archeological sites.

Archeologists have a distinct role to play in climate change research, especially in the context of how humans respond to situations of dynamic climate. Archeology pursues information about past human activity as it is reflected in the deposits people left behind and seeks data from a longer history (or deeper past) than other cultural disciplines, such as history or sociology.

Archeologists are also interested in learning about changes in human activities through time and often posit climate change as an explanation for why these changes occurred. In order to test such explanations, archeologists rely upon (and often collect) paleoenvironmental data, which are critical to the study of human behavior within the context of a dynamic physical environment. By collecting these types of data, archeologists are well positioned to ask and answer questions concerning human-landscape interactions, particularly during periods of climate change.

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