Identifying how societies make decisions about agricultural practices is important for understanding why some agricultural systems flourish over hundreds or thousands of years while others lead to environmental degradation and societal collapse. Archaeological data offer a unique long-term perspective on the sustainability of agriculture and how societies adapt to complex, intertwined changes in environment and economy on both local and regional scales.
In this lecture, I present recent work from the ancient urban center of Gordion in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), where complex agricultural strategies were employed to adapt to coincident environmental and social change on both local and regional scales. By situating Gordion within its regional agricultural setting over time, I conclude that an understanding of local political economy is necessary to reconstruct agricultural decision making and helps to predict patterns of anthropogenic environmental change.
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