Semi-tropical Wetlands to Semi-arid Drylands

From Origins of Agriculture to the Beginnings of the Archaic State


Vernon Scarborough 凡诺·斯卡伯勒
University of Cincinnati 辛辛那提大学


Semi-tropical Wetlands to Semi-arid Drylands:
From Origins of Agriculture to the Beginning of the Archaic State

Early complex societies developed in many environmental settings globally. Two cultural zones with diametrically different ecologies were the semitropical Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula and the semiarid Puebloans of Arizona and New Mexico. The abundance of life’s diversity made possible by the high seasonal rainfall in the Maya Lowlands can be juxtaposed with the more constrained levels of life forms identifiable in the US Southwest. This presentation will contrast two focused areas in these respective regions—the site area of Tikal, Guatemala as opposed to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico—to illustrate why water and climate matter, and to what degree we can use the past to inform our expectation about the future.


Biographical Sketch

Vernon L. Scarborough is Distinguished University Research Professor and Charles Phelps Taft Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Cincinnati. His topical interests remain water management and the engineered landscape in the context of the archaic state. By examining ancient engineered water systems and landscapes, he addresses both past and present societal sustainability issues from a comparative ecological and interdisciplinary perspective. In addition to his work in the US American Southwest (El Paso area, 1982-1986), he has emphasized international fieldwork. He has taught and conducted excavations for the University of Khartoum, Sudan (postdoctoral exchange with Southern Methodist University—1981-82) and the University of Peshawar, Pakistan (Fulbright Fellowship 1986). Ongoing land use and water management studies in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico complement past work in the Argolid, Greece (1994) and Bali, Indonesia (1998). Presently, he is examining the water system and built environment at the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala as well as that of ancestral puebloans at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico–both in the context of a reconstructed past and as well as systems with potential for present-day applications.
He has been directly funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alphawood Foundation (inclusive of support for water work at Tikal), the National Geographic Society, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Balinese support) in addition to several grants from the Taft Foundation Fund and the University of Cincinnati. He received a Weatherhead Fellowship (1995-95) and two Summer Resident Scholarships (1996, 2000) from the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2004, he was awarded the All-University Faculty Rieveschl Award for Creative and Scholarly Works from the University of Cincinnati. He received a Taft Center Fellowship for the academic year 2006-07, and more recently he was elected to the Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. He was awarded both a Charles Phelps Taft Professorship and the Distinguished University Research Professorship in 2010, the latter the highest honor for research active faculty given by the University of Cincinnati.
Routinely he participates in cross-disciplinary exchanges including international invitational workshops such as those sponsored by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP, Delft), the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Tokyo), Man and the Biosphere (UNESCO—Paris), the Foundation for the Future (Seattle), the Santa Fe Institute, the School for Advanced Research (Santa Fe), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder). He has now completed the edited volume Water and Humanity: A Historical Overview for UNESCO, a major initiative inclusive of over forty lengthy chapters. As a steering committee member and invited participant at IHOPE’s (Integrated History for the Future of the People of Earth—an effort now supported by Future Earth–global (Berlin and Uppsala meetings) and regional Asia (Akita, Japan) workshops, he has been a principal organizer for the Americas initiatives (especially IHOPE-Maya). He is a Senior Editor for WIREs Water Journal (Wiley-Blackwell) and a Series Editor for New Directions in Sustainability and Society (Cambridge University Press). He has published nine books—including seven edited volumes (one more in press)–and well over 100 book chapters and journal articles, the latter inclusive of SCIENCE, PNAS, and American Antiquity. His work continues to emphasize interdisciplinarity, sustainability, and water management.

凡诺·斯卡伯勒是美国辛辛那提大学人类学系杰出荣誉研究教授和Charles Phelps Taft 教授。史卡波罗的主要研究方向为古代国家的水利与环境景观工程。结合环境与多学科研究来探讨古代国家水和环境的工程和利用,史卡波罗更进一步探求古代和现今社会可持续发展的议题。史卡波罗曾参与多项国际考古田野工作。目前主要在伯利兹、危地马拉和墨西哥研究有关陆地和水资源利用的课题。史卡波罗亦曾获得多项殊荣和研究基金,当中包括于2011年被授为美国科学促进学会院士并荣获国家自然科学基金和国家地理学会颁发的研究基金。史卡波罗撰写的书籍有九部,发表的文章和书籍章节超过100篇。现在史卡波罗作为地球综合历史与未来人类计划(IHOPE)的骨干成员以及WIREs Water Journal的高级编辑,进行多学科、环境的可持续发展以及水资源管理的研究。