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Title: Archaeological deposits, environmental impact and local soil formation at Marco Gonzalez, Belize
Author: Duncan, Lindsay May
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 1262
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The research focuses on the site of Marco Gonzalez on Ambergris Caye, Belize. The site is characterised by dark-coloured surface soils and broadleaf vegetation that stand in contrast to the caye's sandy sediments and surrounding vegetation. Research has previously identified dark earths at the site, and increased soil nutrients and mass, in association with human activities. My research evaluates ancient human activities, with emphasis on waste outputs, to identify potential features that could affect environmental impact in the long-term. The research is a pilot project that examines different datasets and approaches for their value to the research aims. I present an archaeobotanical investigation (macro and phytolith) to investigate what this dataset can tell us about human-plant relationships and on-site activities. I also present the first application of life cycle assessment (LCA) at Marco Gonzalez. LCA is used to assess which waste materials and deposition periods had the greatest potential for environmental impact. The archaeobotanical results suggest a change in plant use over time that corresponds to the broad changes in occupation demonstrated by other evidence. Broadly, the assemblages contain a range of economic trees and maize in the Terminal Preclassic that diminish in the Early Classic. Wood charcoal dominates the Late Classic, aligning with the characterisation of this period as dominated by salt production. Plant remains are unfortunately poorly preserved for later periods. The LCA results suggest that the Early Classic and ash waste hold the highest impact potential in the categories investigated; excreta also contributes to eutrophication results. The outcome of this experimentation suggests that LCA holds potential value for investigating the impact of waste, but that it is best complemented with other approaches that consider additional factors such as social aspects or the interaction between ecosystem components.
Supervisor: Graham, E. ; Stegemann, J. ; Arroyo-Kalin, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available