Michael J. Storozum

Michael J. Storozum

Graduate Student, Lab Member

Regional Expertise: China; Asia
Methodological Expertise: Field Geoarchaeology, Micromorphology
Languages: English, Chinese

New archaeological data are beginning to illuminate how people’s past land use practices altered natural environmental conditions around the world thousands of years ago. These data are often limited to archaeological sites, painting an incomplete picture of land use in the past. Rather than focus on a specific archaeological site, I investigate how these incremental environmental alterations gradually influence human behavior at a landscape in one of the “cradles” of civilization, the Yellow River valley in Central China.

I am currently researching how paleosols in Neihuang County, Henan, China, sequester anthropogenic signatures of land use practices from the beginning of the Holocene to the recent historic past. Paleosols, otherwise known as buried soils, are one of the most geographically widespread and well-preserved records of ancient land use practices both within and outside of archaeological sites. Since few archaeologists have viewed the paleosol record as an artifact of ancient land use in China, this pedo-archaeological approach will provide a fresh perspective on the way people used, and therefore perceived, their land resources in the past.

Geoarchaeological research relies on a multiplicity of datasets to rigorously test hypotheses. My research integrates data from a variety of scientific methods including X-ray florescence, electron microprobe, grain size distribution analysis, loss-on-ignition, magnetic susceptibility, and soil micromorphology to identify signatures of past human land use from two localities in Neihuang County. By identifying signatures of past human land use, I will investigate how humans transformed the natural environment of ten thousand years ago into the anthropogenic environments of the modern era.

I have conducted field work in the United States, Guatemala, Ecuador, Uzbekistan, and China, giving me broad knowledge of archaeological practice and data around the world. From my archaeological experience in China, I believe that China contains one of the richest archaeological records in the world. In recent years, scientific archaeological excavations have increased greatly in number, producing a glut of new data about China’s past. For both linguistic and cultural reasons, Chinese archaeologists predominately publish these new findings in regional Chinese scholarly journals, inadvertently rendering much of this new archaeological data inaccessible to the international community of archaeologists. Younger scholars proficient in both Chinese and English are tasked with producing, translating, and synthesizing this data into new knowledge of the human past. My goal as an archaeologist is to seize this opportunity, address unanswered archaeological questions, and promote geoarchaeological approaches in China. I aspire to continue to promote geoarchaeological methods and approaches in China, as I firmly believe they are an essential tool for understanding the complexities of the archaeological record.

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