A Framework for Archaeology and Sustainability
Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems
EOLSS Publishers, Oxford
Sustainability or collapse follows from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions. The factors that lead to long-term success or failure in problem-solving have received little attention, so that this fundamental activity is poorly understood. The capacity of institutions to solve problems changes over time, suggesting that a science of problem-solving, and thus a science of sustainability, must be historical. Two archaeological cases show how complexity interacts with social and biophysical factors to make societies, over the long-term, sustainable or vulnerable to collapse. Historical science can reveal how problem-solving develops over time, and archaeology is the only field that can trace this development over extremely long periods and among societies that left no written records. Archaeology is therefore a science essential to maintaining life support systems.
Tainter, J. A. A Framework for Archaeology and Sustainability. In Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. EOLSS Publishers, Oxford. [online] http://www.eolss.net.