Project: : Human-Environment Interaction in Nicaragua: A Historical Ecology Approach
My research takes an interdisciplinary approach to human-environment interaction, considering individual, community and regional scales in a socially complex landscape. My research area, pre-Hispanic Nicaragua, is an ideal location for this study because of its extensive ecological variation at both local and regional scales, allowing for the study of multiscalar variability across the landscape. I investigate networks of interaction centered around Lake Cocibolca, the largest source of fresh water in Central America and an important locale for resource extraction and exchange from pre-Hispanic times through to the present day. Specifically, it builds on material from ongoing excavations on the western side of the lake, previously excavated material from field seasons I participated in on the eastern side of the lake, and my own survey and excavation to be conducted in the Zapatera Archipelago, within the lake itself. Last summer, supported by Stahl funds, I carried out a pilot study, which focused on the geoarchaeological component of my dissertation work. I extracted soil cores along the shoreline of Lake Cocibolca adjacent to settlements along with bulk soil samples from near the surface of each coring location, which I am currently analyzing. The cores will allow for identification of submerged sites and reconstruction of diachronic changes in lakeside habitats, which can be correlated with faunal data (currently in the process of analysis) to assess the effects of resource availability and cultural differences on resource exploitation. They will also allow me to correlate human activity with volcanic and other environmental events to investigate human responses to such stressors.