14 July 2003 Remote sensing, paleoecology, and the archaeology of human migration during the Pleistocene in central Asia and western China
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Remote sensing used in the context of global information systems has enormous applications within archaeology. This technology enables the discovery of new archaeological features and promotes an understanding of the relationship between ecosystem and cultural dynamics. Archaeologists are able to add a time dimension to 'creeping environmental changes' that other areas of scientific inquiry concerned with climate change often lack. Remote sensing and other aerial prospecting has been used successfully to model land use and population expansions during relatively recent archaeological eras, such as the Bronze and Iron Ages. Although satellite image databases exist for numerous areas of the New and Old World, very little research has been conducted in Central Asia or western China. This region is historically significant because of its position along the important trading route called the Silk Road. The purpose of the present research is to investigate another poorly understood period of human history that would benefit from the application of remote sensing and associated ground truthing techniques. The migration of hominids out of Africa during the late Pliocene/early Pleistocene and their subsequent colonization of north-central, east, and south-east Asia is relatively well documented in the archaeological record and marks the beginning of the long-term process of human impacts on the region. However, the trajectory of dispersal of Homo erectus, Neandertals, and early modern humans and the ways by which ecosystem vagaries affected this dispersal across Eurasia is unknown. Our purpose is to summarize what is currently known about the geological indicators of ecosystem changes that remote sensing techniques provide and how ecosystem variables may allow us to model human migration as that of an invasive species through this important geographic crossroads of the Old World.
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Michelle M. Glantz, Michelle M. Glantz, Lawrence Todd, Lawrence Todd, "Remote sensing, paleoecology, and the archaeology of human migration during the Pleistocene in central Asia and western China", Proc. SPIE 4890, Ecosystems Dynamics, Ecosystem-Society Interactions, and Remote Sensing Applications for Semi-Arid and Arid Land, (14 July 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.465927; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.465927

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