US: Using computational modelling is a new approach in the field of archaeology. Archaeology is known for learning about the past, but these methods can help us predict the future, said Michael Barton, co-author of the article Computational Modeling and Neolithic Socioecological Dynamics: A Case Study from Southwest Asia, published in April 2010 issue of the journal American Antiquity.
Apart from Michael Barton, co-director of Arizona State University’s (ASU) Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity, other two co-authors of the article are Isaac Ullah, ASU research assistant and Helena Mitasova, an associate professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University. Their article demonstrates how new modelling techniques are used to simulate different land use practices such as intensive farming, shifting cultivation (also called swidden or slash-and-burn) and grazing to determine long-term effects on landscapes.
Isaac Ullah said, “We are finding ways to make archaeology applicable to what we are doing today and possibly impact future policy decisions.” Helena Mitasova said that geospatial simulations gives better understanding about the relationship between the development of prehistoric settlements and landscape evolution, especially the consequences of agricultural practices that could degrade land well beyond the settlements and have broad long-term effects on entire landscapes.