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Archaeology of the Human Experience

Mother and son with oxen

The Archaeology of the Human Experience (AHE) asks archaeologists to consider what it was really like to live in the past that they study, and to understand the people who populated that past as fellow human beings. At this project’s heart is the desire to look beyond past people’s decisions to understand why those decisions were made.

The Archaeology of the Human Experience (AHE) asks archaeologists to consider what it was really like to live in the past that they study, and to understand the people who populated that past as fellow human beings. That shift in paradigm provides new answers to old questions and is inspiring archaeologists to ask a whole new range of questions that humanize their research.

This interdisciplinary endeavor is led by ASU professor of archaeology Michelle Hegmon, who has adapted the United Nations Development Programme’s dimensions of human security to fit archaeological application – as one aspect of AHE.

At this project’s heart is the desire to look beyond past people’s decisions to understand why those decisions were made. What economic, political or climatic issues affected migration, societal expansion and when and why populations went to war? What trade-offs were made to achieve sustainability? How did processes emerge? These are a few of the questions AHE team members are actively addressing.

Publication:
Hegmon, Michelle, Jette Arneborg, Laura Comeau, Andrew J. Dugmore, George Hambrecht, Scott Ingram, Keith Kintigh, Thomas H. McGovern, Margaret C. Nelson, Matthew A. Peeples, Iam Simpson, Katherine Spielmann, Richard Streeter, and Orri Vesteinsson (2014). The Human Experience of Social Change and Continuity: The Southwest and North Atlantic in "Interesting Times" ca. 1300. In Climates of Change: The Shifting Environments of Archaeology, edited by Sheila Kulyk, Cara Tremain and Madeline Sawyer, pp. 53–68. Proceedings of the 44th Annual Chacmool Conference, University of Calgary.

Funding Sources:

  • Global Human Ecosystems Alliance
  • Amerind Foundation
  • School of Sustainability
  • American Anthropological Association, Archaeology Division
Michelle Hegmon, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Margaret Nelson, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Keith Kintigh, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Katherine Spielmann, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Michael Smith, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Timothy Dennehy, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Andrea Torvinen, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Scott Ortman, University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Anthropology
Matt Peeples, Archaeology Southwest
Colleen Strawhacker, National Snow and Ice Data Center
Benjamin Staley, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change