Urbanization causes archaeological resource destruction

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

Megapolitan area or megaregion—either way, the increased density of human settlement in Piedmont Georgia—and beyond—endangers archaeological remains.

How are these two related? Most archaeological remains are at or near the surface of the ground. They are buried. And they are vulnerable to disturbance and destruction by development—including the construction of roads and buildings, and by contouring and landscaping.

Thus, with more human occupation and construction, there’s more destruction of our hidden archaeological resources.

Consider this map of what some researchers call megaregions:

Megaregion IrvingPlNYC Wikipedia

Map from Wikipedia, by IrvingPINYC.

Consider this map of what other researchers call megapolitan areas:

Megapolitan areas Grimm et 2008 Fig 3

From Figure 3, of “The Changing Landscape: Ecosystem Responses to Urbanization and Pollution across Climatic and Societal Gradients” by Nancy Grimm, David R. Foster, Peter M. Groffman, J. Morgan Grove, Charles S. Hopkinson, Knute J. Nadelhoffer, Diane E. Pataki, and Debra P.C. Peters; published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 6, pp. 264–272. Abstract online here.

Note how, in both cases, Piedmont Georgia is urbanizing at a faster pace than most of the rest of the nation. Urbanization is another term for dense human settlement.

Urbanization endangers archaeological resources, and can destroy them. Join the SGA and help preserve Georgia’s archaeological heritage.

Once you’ve joined the SGA, volunteer with the Society to actively help the SGA to work to preserve, study and interpret Georgia’s historic and prehistoric remains.

Human settlement destroys archaeological remains; yet, it can also create them. How is this true?

To read more about the loss of archaeological resources in Georgia, click here. You may also be interested in “Resources at Risk,” an earlier publication of the SGA that covers similar issues. Both links are to special issues of Early Georgia, the journal of the SGA.