Archaeological markers of agricultural risk management


Marston, John M.

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

Volume/Issue: 30

Page Number(s): 190-205

Year Published: 2011


Managing agricultural risk, or variance in annual production, is a priority for farmers and herders. This article reviews the ethnographic and historical literature on agricultural risk management and identifies diversification and intensification as two distinct approaches to managing risk. Quantitative analysis of plant and animal remains from archaeological sites produces robust datasets that can be used to test predictions of risk management models related to diversification and intensification strategies. I present a variety of established and novel paleoethnobotanical and zooarchaeological measures that have implications for risk management and argue that multiple lines of evidence are needed to identify risk-management practices from archaeological remains. The article concludes with a case study of the multiperiod urban center of Gordion in central Turkey, where quantitative analysis of plant and animal remains demonstrates diachronic changes in agricultural risk management over 3000 years of occupation.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2011.01.002

Type of Publication: Journal Article