This in an excerpt from this book
Both earth science and geo-archaeology are two very unique discipline of science which shares a lot of resemblances to each other. Although the supposed differences between these two endeavors continue to be discussed (e.g., Butzer, 1982; Rapp and Hill, 1998), here we are basically concerned with any subject that bridges the interface between the earth sciences and archaeology, with the earth sciences including a wide array of subjects, such as geomorphology, sedimentology, geochronology, stratigraphy, geochemistry, geo-physics and pedology.
Among the earliest of the volumes on geoarchaeology was a collection of papers from a symposium titled “Sediments in Archaeology” held in England in the early 1970’s [Shackley & Davidson, 76’]. The papers from this groundbreaking effort were organized into themes that included Techniques, sediments of biological nature, Sedimentary Environments (coastal, lacustrine, and terrestrial environments).
Although some of these articles were local in scope, those on methodology encompassed a number of techniques that included magnetic properties of sediments as applied to prospection, stratigraphy, petrography, phosphate chemistry, and cave sediments. A decade or so later, Rapp and Gifford (1985) produced a multi authored volume that was very much methodology oriented. It included a broad array of subjects and techniques and their applications to archaeological problems, including the following: geomorphology (including sedimentary elements), palynology, anthrools, geophysical surveying and archaeomagnetism, isotope and dating studies, and sourcing of materials.
The first in the group of recently published scripts on this subject is by Waters (1992), which takes on a larger scale perspective, stressing geomorphology and site formation from a North American viewpoint. Geoarchaeology by Rapp and Hill (1998) covers most of the topics that are encompassed in modern geoarchaeological studies, ranging from field-based geomorphology/sedimentology as applied to laboratory techniques.
Published at about the same time was Geological Methods for Archaeology by Herz and Garrison (1998), which considers with some detail geological techniques in archaeology from a variety of aspects: geomorphology, sediments and soils, dating techniques, site exploration, and artifact analysis. What struck us about these earlier collections- but less so with the most recent publications-is that articles tended to describe an earth science tech- nique used in archaeology, provide some theoretical background, and then discuss the results.
What seemed to be typically lacking were explicit statements of a number of issues:
(1) the type(s) of problem being solved;
(2) why a particular technique (or techniques) was being applied in the first place;
(3) why this technique was the most suitable to tackle this problem; and
(4) the implications of the results to both the archaeological and the earth science communities.
Any ramifications directed toward these groups were commonly left to the readers to figure out for themselves. We developed this script to avoid these shortcomings by making it as didactic as possible.
We wanted to present a sampling of a variety of earth science techniques and strategies that can be used to answer problems that are of interest to both archaeologists and earth scientists. We attempted to choose techniques and their practitioners that represent up-to-date thinking and methodology on each subject. Some of these techniques are not widely performed or widely known. We stressed that authors should not present just a summary of technique or types of studies (and that they also avoid simply summarizing old research or publishing new results), but demonstrate how such studies are actually carried out.
We wished the authors to convey some of their experiences as means of furnishing some practical information, a type of information that rarely gets into press. Finally, we wanted to acquaint different members of the academic community with concrete geoarchaeological problems and their significance. We hope that by explicitly stating the goals, techniques, and implications in each case, archaeologists will be made aware of the value of a particular technique, whereas the practicing or potential geoscientist would be exposed to possible problems that can be attacked along the suture of archaeological and geological research.
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