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Used Planet: Globalizing Archaeological Knowledge to Map the Emergence and Spread of Human Land Use

Date and Time: 
Friday, May 4, 2018. 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 500
Workshop: 
Data Scarcity of the Earth and Human Past
Meeting Description: 

Human societies have been transforming Earth’s landscapes for thousands of years at increasing scales and intensities. Yet spatially-explicit global evidence of this early landscape transformation, especially from archaeology, remains largely localized and at an early stage of development. Partly as a result, the deeply entangled social-ecological roots of Earth’s human transformation into the Anthropocene have largely been ignored by Earth scientists. To address this global data lacuna, long-term global land use datasets for the past 10,000 years are being developed for multiple time slices through novel collaborations among archaeologists, geographers, and land system scientists led by the LandCover 6K and GLOBE projects. By globalizing archaeological knowledge, the social-ecological emergence of our used planet may be better understood and potentially guided towards better outcomes for both the human and nonhuman worlds.

Erle Ellis is professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he directs the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology (http://ecotope.org/). His research investigates the ecology of human landscapes at local to global scales to inform sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. His recent work examines long-term changes in Earth’s ecology produced by human societies (anthroecology; anthromes). Other projects include online tools for global synthesis of local knowledge (GLOBE) and inexpensive tools for mapping landscapes in 3D (Ecosynth). He is a member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, a Fellow of the Global Land Programme and a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He teaches environmental science and landscape ecology at UMBC, and has taught ecology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. His first book, Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction is published by Oxford University Press.

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