Human adaptation to Holocene environments: Perspectives and promise from China

Elizabeth Berger, Katherine Brunson, Brett Kaufman, Gyoung Ah Lee, Xinyi Liu, Pauline Sebillaud, Michael Storozum, Loukas Barton, Jacqueline Eng, Gary Feinman, Rowan Flad, Sandra Garvie-Lok, Michelle Hrivnyak, Brian Lander, Deborah C. Merrett, Wa Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper reviews recent archaeological research on human-environment interaction in the Holocene, taking continental China as its geographic focus. As China is large, geographically diverse, and exceptionally archaeologically and historically well-documented, research here provides critical insight into the functioning of social-natural systems. Based on a broad review of the field as well as recent advances and discoveries, the authors reflect on research themes including climate change and adaptive systems theory, spatial and temporal scale, anthropogenic environmental change, risk management and resilience, and integration of subdisciplines. These converge on three overarching conclusions. First, datasets relevant to climate change and ancient human-environment interaction must be as local and specific as possible, as the timing of environmental change differs locally, and the human response is highly dependent on local social and technological conditions. Second, the field still needs more robust theoretical frameworks for analyzing complex social-natural systems, and especially for integrating data on multiple scales. Third, for this work to contribute meaningfully to contemporary climate change research, effective communication of research findings to the public and to scientists in other disciplines should be incorporated into publication plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101326
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Anthropocene
  • Archaeology
  • China
  • Climate change
  • Holocene
  • Human-environment interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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