Geoarchaeology is a major branch of archaeological science at the interfaces between geology, geography and archaeology, involving the combined study of archaeological, soil and geomorphological records and the recognition of how natural, climatic and human-induced processes alter landscapes. The formation and modification of past soils, and occupation sequences can be examined primarily through the use of soil micromorphological techniques and various physical and geo-chemical techniques.
This short text aims to explain some of the basics of geoarchaeological approaches and research design used to tackle the investigation of landscapes and settlement archaeology, and the application of soil micromorphology to archaeological situations. The intention is to present a basic handbook of good practice, with case studies and examples, that any archaeologist or aspiring geoarchaeologist can use.
Charles French is Professor of Geoarchaeology at the University of Cambridge. For more than the past two decades his main research interests have centred around the application of archaeological techniques and micromorphological analytical techniques to the interpretation of buried landscapes, the processes responsible for the degradation of landscapes, and more recently on the interpretation of the use of domestic space on settlement sites.
Acknowledgements Preface 1. Introduction 2. Approaches to investigating landscapes Theoretical and methodological considerations Factors affecting archaeological recovery and environmental evidence Formulating research designs Investigating wetland landscapes Investigating dryland systems Investigating temperate landscapes 3. Examples of fieldwork strategies and sampling applications for investigating landscapes The lower Welland valley and Cambridgeshire fen-edge, eastern England The chalk downlands of Cranborne Chases and Wessex, southern England The central Rio Puerco valley, New Mexico The Rio Ica valley, Peru The prehistoric landscape of Herm island 4. Approaches to investigating settlement sites Sampling strategies and techniques 5. Examples of fieldwork strategies and sampling applications for investigating settlements Saar, Bahrain Kaupang, Norway Crossiecrown, Orkney 6. Integration: Sampling and method combinations 7. Conclusions Appendix 1: Bulk sample methodologies Appendix 2: Sampling for soil/sediment micromorphological analysis Appendix 3: A brief guide to making soil/sediment thin sections: from the field to finished slide using the Brot grinding system, with Tonko Rajkovaca Bibliography Essential texts References Glossary of terms