Resilience of past landscapes: Resilience theory, society, and the Longue Durée

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267 Scopus citations


Resilience theory is an expanding body of ideas that attempts to provide explanations for the source and role of change in adaptive systems, particularly the kinds of change that are transforming. Scholars from various disciplines have contributed to the current state of this formulation. This article proposes that resilience theory would benefit from an increasing collaboration with archaeologists, who would provide a long-term perspective on adaptive cycles. Although archaeologists and anthropologists have written provocatively about studying the resilience of past and present societies, such an approach has not become common in these disciplines. We suggest, however, that a resilience framework offers a potential mechanism for reinvigorating the conceptual base of archaeological and anthropological disciplines. To make this case, we (1) highlight three features of resilience theory, including cross-scale interactions, information flow, and phases of the adaptive cycle; (2) examine the extent to which purely natural or social science analyses would give complementary or contradictory conclusions; and (3) discuss the implications of using a long-term integrative perspective for understanding linked social and ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Ancient societies
  • Archaeology
  • Cross-scale interactions
  • History
  • Hohokam
  • Information flow
  • Mesopotamia
  • Panarchy
  • Prehistory
  • Resilience theory
  • Socio-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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