Groundwater geochemistry and human ecology in the south Aegean : a diachronic investigation of the human–hydrologic relationship from prehistory to the present
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This dissertation identifies and explores recurring patterns in the relationship between humans and hydrology. I explore both sides of the human-hydrologic relationship by highlighting (1) the principal modes used by humans to influence and augment the water cycle, and (2) the influence of water quantity and water chemistry on human affairs. The first theme is explored by charting the evolutionary trajectory of water management technology, beginning with the earliest known intentional manipulations of the water cycle roughly 10,000 years ago and ending with massive hydraulic projects of the present. This exposition reveals that across cultural, environmental, and temporal boundaries water management technology has progressed from simple techniques and devices to complex hydraulic installations in a series of incremental innovations, not in great leaps forward. A better understanding of water management’s origins and characteristic modes of innovation may encourage robust and farsighted hydrologic developments in a future of increased freshwater scarcity. The second theme investigates the influence of water quantity and water chemistry on: (a) settlement location and land-use strategies; (b) site tenure, especially during periods of climatic variability/change; (c) water-ritual and environmental perceptions; and (d) the formation and political ecology of early states. Methods and tools from geomorphology, hydrogeology, and environmental chemistry are used to define the complete physiochemical parameters of water resources in several study watersheds in the Eastern Mediterranean. Human-environmental behaviors captured in the archaeological and historical records were used to identify recurring patterns of human interaction with specific components of hydrologic systems. Several case studies demonstrate remarkable human sensitivity to geochemical differences in the natural environment. Ritual activity around several of these water sources seems to transcend time and cultural background. Conversely, other case studies demonstrate how cultures have repeatedly engineered the environment to manage and mitigate inherently poor or anthropogenically compromised water resources. This dissertation reveals the profound impacts humans have had on hydrologic systems and the way water’s chemical character and physical abundance have influenced human affairs.
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