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The Archaeology and Historical Ecology of Small Scale Economies$
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Victor D. Thompson and James C. Waggoner Jr.

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813042428

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813042428.001.0001

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Cumulative Actions and the Historical Ecology of Islands along the Georgia Coast

Cumulative Actions and the Historical Ecology of Islands along the Georgia Coast

Chapter:
(p.79) 5 Cumulative Actions and the Historical Ecology of Islands along the Georgia Coast
Source:
The Archaeology and Historical Ecology of Small Scale Economies
Author(s):

Victor D. Thompson

John A. Turck

Chester B. DePratter

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813042428.003.0005

Two key themes dominate historical ecology studies in archaeology. The first is that humans actively enact changes to the environment to suit their own needs. The second is that humans, as a keystone species, leave a considerable imprint on the environment in which they live. We evaluate these two postulates for the Georgia coast, which was inhabited by Native Americans for 4000 years. We explore the degree of environmental modification that these groups had on the back-barrier area, and to what degree these modifications were the product of intentional actions and/or unintended products. Our findings are that the production, consumption, and deposition of shellfish over 4,000 years were integral to the development of the Georgia coast as a socio-ecological system. The cumulative effect of shell deposition by prehistoric hunter-fisher-gatherers over this time span, while unintentional, resulted in the maintenance of present-day marsh islands in the face of sea level rise and marsh deposition.

Keywords:   Georgia coast, back-barrier islands, socio-ecological systems, shell deposition

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