Tristram R. “T.R.” Kidder, the Edward S. and Tedi Macias Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences, has long studied the changes that humans have wrought on the land. In 2014, he published the earliest known archaeological evidence for human construction of large-scale levees and other flood-control systems in China — arguing that ancient levees along the Yellow River set the stage for massive, dynasty-toppling floods.
As a member of the ArchaeoGLOBE project, Kidder is one of more than 250 archaeologists who contributed data and community knowledge to a study published this week in the journal Science. The study reveals that over the past 10,000 years humans have reshaped landscapes, ecosystems and potentially climate in a manner that challenges conventional ideas that man’s impact has been “mostly recent.”
Kidder hopes the paper’s scale, quality of data, and engagement of a global community of scholars will convince scholars to retire the “pristine myth” that climate change is a modern phenomenon and tackle questions of how to use the data to understand the present and the future.