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Title: Introduction
Other Titles: Temple landscapes : fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands
Authors: Malone, Caroline
Stoddart, Simon
Hunt, Chris O.
French, Charles
McLaughlin, Rowan
Grima, Reuben
Keywords: Sustainability -- Malta
Sustainable development -- Malta
Ecology -- Malta
Natural history projects -- Malta
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Citation: Malone, C., Stoddart, S., Hunt, C. O., French, C., McLaughlin, R., & Grima, R. (2020). Introduction. In: C. French, C. O. Hunt, R. Grima, R. McLaughlin, S. Stoddart & C. Malone, Temple landscapes : fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 1-15.
Abstract: The FRAGSUS Project (Fragility and sustainability in small island environments: adaptation, cultural change and collapse in prehistory) was devised to explore issues of prehistoric island sustainability set against the background of environmental change and instability. Particular foci were the fragility and sustainability of society and environment in the Maltese Islands (Fig. 0.1), primarily during the Neolithic period of the sixth to third millennia bc. Specifically, the research team aimed to understand and explain the nature of the impact of expanding human populations on a restricted, resource-limited and fragile environment such as the Maltese Islands. Our goal was to advance knowledge of the mechanisms and innovations (cultural, technological and political) that traditional (prehistoric) farming societies developed in order to cope with changing resource availability and environmental unpredictability. We sought to understand how some societies managed population impact and sustained their socio-economic system and culture over long periods of time through examining the evidence preserved in the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records. Island studies have long interested archaeologists and ecologists. An island represents a conveniently circumscribed landscape of known size, surrounded by water, and thus remote from larger landmasses and their biological and cultural stimuli. They are sometimes taken as a microcosm of the situation of the human species in a severely circumscribed and overcrowded planet. From the seminal ecological studies of Charles Darwin (Jones 2009) and Alfred Wallace (1892) in the nineteenth century, to the rich theoretical literature on biogeography and equilibrium theory in islands first initiated by MacArthur and Wilson (1963, 1967), an entire sub-discipline of island studies has developed. The studies range from Simberloff’s equilibrium theory (1974), the ecology models of Gorman (1979), ecological anthropology (Vayda & Rappaport 1968) to current ideas of evolution and equilibrium (Lomolino et al. 2010) and colonization (Cox et al. 2016). Generally, the bulk of research has been focused on non-human subjects, with issues of extinctions and conservation foremost, but nevertheless, a number of important theories and models from these island studies are relevant to archaeology. [excerpt]
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