Science in place and time: archaeology, ecology and environmental history
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Libby Robin, Mike Smith, 2007. "Science in place and time: archaeology, ecology and environmental history", Animals of Arid Australia: Out on their own?, Chris Dickman, Daniel Lunney, Shelley Burgin
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Science in place is part of a wider interdisciplinary project, Strata: deserts past, present and future. It examines the spatial construction of knowledge around the archaeologically significant site, Puritjarra, in Australia's Western Desert. It uses a ‘history of ideas’ approach to consider the literature of two different situated sciences, ecology and archaeology. Traditionally, ecological science has been spatially extensive, while archaeology is temporally deep. One emphasising space and process, the other time and sequence. This paper argues that the nature of the desert itself makes ecology attentive to both spatial detail and history, while archaeology in the desert demands a spatial and environmental or ecological context. Both have moved towards not just a ‘sense of place’ but a ‘sense of place in time’. The place itself shapes scientific understandings by creating a need for multiple scales, and both temporal and spatial disciplines in making sense of the biota and human artefacts. A different sort of place can make a different sort of knowledge, as Ernest Giles's account of his 1872 travels indirectly suggested.