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Geoarchaeology: The Geomorphologist and Archaeology

  • Bruce G. Gladfelter

The contributions of the earth sciences, particularly geomorphology and sedimentary petrography, to the interpretation and environmental reconstruction of archaeological contexts is called "geoarchaeology." The physical context provides a palaeo-environmental legacy liable to patterning and interpretation just as artifacts imply prehistoric cultural activity. Through field study and laboratory analyses, the geoarchaeologist elaborates the micro-, meso-, and macro-environments of a site, and provides input for erecting prehistoric human activity patterns in time and space. The categories of information that must be examined in the field, the range of interpretive problems that confront the field worker, and the laboratory techniques which corroborate field interpretations can be illustrated by examining archaeology in an alluvial site. These considerations emphasize the need to involve the geomorphologist in all aspects of the design and execution of an archaeological excavation.

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American Antiquity
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