Geoarchaeological and archaeobotanical approaches to human-environmental interactions during the Archaic to Preclassic Periods in Northwestern Belize
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This report reviews human-environmental interactions in Northwestern Belize during the transition from Archaic (8000 to 4000 B.P.) to Preclassic periods (4000 B.P. to 2000 B.P.). Specifically, the transition of subsistence strategies from nomadic hunter-gatherer to more sedentary food production, which we still do not fully understand in the tropical lowlands of the Maya region. It is during this pivotal era that early to mid-Holocene humans domesticated a wide variety of plants and animals, establishing a new human niche strategy that dramatically changed environments around the world. This report considers how human niche construction, a theoretical framework that expressly attributes populations with deliberate ecosystem engineering strategies, plays an integral role in the Anthropocene. I present my plans for analyzing sediments and microbotanical remains to contribute to knowledge about paleoenvironment and human-landscape interactions to provide direct evidence for transformative behavior by humans.