Ancient agriculture caused lasting environmental changes
Ancient agricultural activity more than 2,000 years ago is the tipping point where humanity first began to cause environmental change, according to a new study.
The findings — discovered by a team of international researchers led by the University of British Columbia — point to increased intensity of deforestation and farming practices during the Bronze Age in Ireland. This affected the world’s nitrogen cycle, which is a process that keeps the essential element circulating between the atmosphere, land and oceans.
“That’s the turning point where humanity goes to being a part of the environment to being a dominant driver in key processes,” said Eric Guiry, lead author and post-doctoral fellow at UBC’S department of anthropology.
“Scientists are increasingly Researchers studied bones to identify when ancient agriculture began to have an impact on the environment. recognizing that humans have always impacted their ecosystems, but finding early evidence of significant and lasting changes is rare.”
Researchers performed stable isotope analyses — or chemical signatures — on 712 animal bones collected from 90 archeological sites in Ireland and found “startling” changes to the nitrogen composition of soil nutrients — which entered the plants that made up the animals’ diet.
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