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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Study Offers Clues to Ireland’s Bronze Age Environment

Thursday, June 14, 2018

VANCOUVER, CANADA—The Vancouver Star reports that researchers led by Eric Guiry of the University of British Columbia have tracked the effect of deforestation and farming practices on the nitrogen cycle through the chemical analysis of Bronze Age animal bones from Ireland. The nitrogen cycle is the process of how the element circulates through the atmosphere, land, and oceans. The more than 700 bones in the study came from some 90 archaeological sites across Ireland. The test results suggest significant changes to the nitrogen composition of soil nutrients—and therefore the food chain—occurred when land use became more intensive through deforestation, agriculture, and grazing some 2,000 years ago. Guiry thinks small-scale agriculture up until that point was likely to have had little impact on nutrients in the environment. For more, go to “Europe's First Farmers.”

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