Research ArticleAGRICULTURE

Engineered feature used to enhance gardening at a 3800-year-old site on the Pacific Northwest Coast

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Science Advances  21 Dec 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 12, e1601282
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601282

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Abstract

Humans use a variety of deliberate means to modify biologically rich environs in pursuit of resource stability and predictability. Empirical evidence suggests that ancient hunter-gatherer populations engineered ecological niches to enhance the productivity and availability of economically significant resources. An archaeological excavation of a 3800-year-old wetland garden in British Columbia, Canada, provides the first direct evidence of an engineered feature designed to facilitate wild plant food production among mid-to-late Holocene era complex fisher-hunter-gatherers of the Northwest Coast. This finding provides an example of environmental, economic, and sociopolitical coevolutionary relationships that are triggered when humans manipulate niche environs.

Keywords
  • Northwest Coast archaeology
  • Hunter-Gatherers
  • pre-contact wild plant cultivation
  • wet-site archaeology

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