Verhagen, Philip; Stefani A. Crabtree; Hans Peeters and Daan Raemaekers
In archaeology, palaeo-ecological studies are frequently used to support archaeological investigations, but linking and synthesizing datasets and concepts from ecology, ethnography, earth sciences, and archaeology has historically been rare. While advances in computational approaches and standards of data collection have enabled more collaborative approaches to understanding the past, these endeavors are only now beginning to pick up pace. Here, we propose a method to collect data of these assorted types, synthesize ecological and archaeological understanding, and move beyond subsistence-focused studies to those that incorporate multifaceted economies. We advocate for the use of 'human-centered interaction networks' as a tool to synthesize and better understand the role of culture, ecology, and environment in the long-term evolution of socio-ecological systems. We advance the study of human-centered interaction networks by presenting an archaeoecological (archaeological-ecological) perspective on the Neolithic transition of the Swifterbant culture in the northwestern Netherlands (approximately 4700-4000 BCE). We employed network science to better understand the relationships of animal and plant species to the uses that people made of them. The analysis of the Swifterbant system reveals a highly connected set of interactions among people, plants, and animals, as could be expected on the basis of the hypothesis of an 'extended broad-spectrum economy'. Importantly, this broad spectrum extends beyond the subsistence sphere.