Today United States Senator Patrick Leahy advocated for the preservation of the ecological and cultural patrimony of the Mosquitia. Reacting to President Hernandez’s recent announcement for increased protection in the area, Leahy stated in part
“President Hernandez’s commitment to preserve these archeological sites from looters and other criminal activity and to protect the broader forest area by replanting the jungle and countering deforestation deserves our support. I look forward to working with the Government of Honduras on how the United States may be able to assist its conservation efforts.”
Read the full statement in the Congressional Record.
In the El Dorado Machine, noted author Douglas Preston outlines the efforts to uncover traces of ancient civilization in the Mosquitia region of Honduras. The Legacies of Resilience Team, including Christopher Fisher and Stephen Leisz, have been involved in this effort. Check out the article here, which mentions the work at Angamuco and has a couple of quotes from Chris Fisher.
In a recent article for the Spring 2010 issue of American Archaeology, the magazine sponsored by the Archaeological Conservancy, writer Kristen Ohlson (“Stalking the Divine“, “Kabul Beauty School“) interviews several contributors from the book I co-edited with Brett Hill and Gary Feinman, “The Archaeology of Environmental Change: Socionatural Legacies of Degradation and Resilience“.
Charles Redman and Margaret Nelson (Arizona State University) discuss the interaction between climatic variation and the development of the Southwestern Hohokam and Mimbres cultures. Vernon Scarborough (University of Cincinnati) draws from his research in the Mesoamerican lowlands to explore modern lessons from the Classic period (A.D. 300-900) Maya collapse. I outline the Lake Pátzcuaro case study emphasizing the value of long-term records and inverse relationship between population density and land degradation. And Brett Hill (Hendrix College) provides a great quote “The whole point of our book is that environmental degradation is not something that happens to people.” “It’s a process involving the relationship between people and their environment, and between people and other people”
Ohlson emphasizes many of the key points of our book – the value of long-term records for modern conservation, past lessons for modern policy, the danger of homogeneity, and unintended consequences. The article closes with a comment from me “I’m trained to look at dead people’s garbage, not talk to live people” Fisher says, “this underscores the point that we need to work with cultural anthropologists and other scientists who are better trained to help us deliver our message.” And a more nuanced message from Charles Redman “I think archaeologists always know we can’t answer questions all on our own,” says Redman. “We’re always pulling in other people to help us figure out what we’ve found. It’s an organizational attitude that’s particularly valuable for these deliberations.” So, can archaeology save the environment? Yes, and more.