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Archaeonics - (Geo)archaeological studies in Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADE) as an example for future-oriented studies of the past

Dotterweich, Markus, Schreg, Rainer
Quaternary international 2019 v.502 pp. 309-318
carbon, climate change, land use, management systems, models, oxidation, problem solving, risk, social impact, socioeconomics, soil, soil management, sustainable land management
This review paper examines the potential of (geo)archaeological data of past human-environment systems to contribute to the development of sustainable land use and soil management strategies. Looking at past land use systems and their socio-economic background extends our understanding of the slow processes and low frequency events that appear to be the key in deciding whether land use systems lead to sustainability or to collapse. As an example, the paper focuses on so-called Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADE). These highly fertile soils were managed or actively created by ancient cultures in different regions of the world. Since they are rich in humic matter and carbon, and are highly stable to biochemical oxidation, they appear very relevant both as a model for sustainable soil and land management systems and as a tool for climate change mitigation on different scales - local as well as global. The paper argues in favor of a historical perspective to learn about risks and possibilities of land use strategies. We propose a co-adaptive transdisciplinary problem-solving approach ("Archaeonics"), which includes the study of the past as well as respective technical and social implications for the future.