CRANE Research Questions


To guide this expanding collaborative effort, CRANE researchers will address the following interrelated research questions:


  • What were the environmental effects of ancient agricultural and pastoral subsistence practices, and what was their impact on the long-term     sustainability of these practices?
  • What were the short-term and long-term impacts of deforestation, land clearance and slope terracing on soil and slope erosion and the alluviation of valley bottoms?
  • What were the short-term and long-term impacts of anthropogenic landscape features, such as irrigation systems and roads, on the natural environment and on human landuse practices?
  • What role did natural resources (game, fish, fowl, plants) play in human subsistence, both in sedentary and non-sedentary settings, in contrast to domesticated crops and herded animals, and how did this vary over time and space?
  • How did endogenous demographic change and external migration impact micro- and macrodemographic trends in the size, number, location, and internal structure of settlements?
  • In what ways do climate patterns across the region change over time, how did these changes vary geographically, and what were the social and political impacts of climatic change?
  • How did communities perceive and respond to environmental changes, in terms of both short-term and long-term strategies, how do these strategies vary over time and space, and how did these responses affect the long-term resilience of these communities?
  • What role did political institutions and conflicts play in the stability, growth and/or decline of communities over time?


These research questions together seek to address one of the primary scientific challenges facing the discipline of archaeology today: how have human activities shaped the earth’s biological and physical systems,

and when did humans become dominant drivers of these systems? These questions are also highly relevant and timely in the context of ongoing debate about anthropogenic impacts on the environment, and the need to improve the sustainability and resilience of contemporary human society in the face of climate and environmental change.