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Reconstructing Archaeological Sites: Understanding the Geoarchaeological Matrix

Reconstructing Archaeological Sites: Understanding the Geoarchaeological Matrix

Panagiotis Karkanas, Paul Goldberg

ISBN: 978-1-119-01642-7

Jun 2018, Wiley-Blackwell

296 pages

Description

A guide to the systematic understanding of the geoarchaeological matrix

Reconstructing Archaeological Sites offers an important text that puts the focus on basic theoretical and practical aspects of depositional processes in an archaeological site. It contains an in-depth discussion on the role of stratigraphy that helps determine how deposits are organised in time and space. The authors — two experts in the field — include the information needed to help recognise depositional systems, processes and stratigraphic units that aid in the interpreting the stratigraphy and deposits of a site in the field. 

The book is filled with practical tools, numerous illustrative examples, drawings and photos as well as compelling descriptions that help visualise depositional processes and clarify how these build the stratigraphy of a site. Based on the authors’ years of experience, the book offers a holistic approach to the study of archaeological deposits that spans the broad fundamental aspects to the smallest details. This important guide:

  • Offers information and principles for interpreting natural and anthropogenic sediments and physical processes in sites
  • Provides a framework for reconstructing the history of a deposit and the site
  • Outlines the fundamental principles of site formation processes
  • Explores common misconceptions about what constitutes a deposit
  • Presents a different approach for investigating archaeological stratigraphy based on sedimentary principles

Written for archaeologists and geoarchaeologists at all levels of expertise as well as senior level researchers, Reconstructing Archaeological Sites offers a guide to the theory and practice of how stratigraphy is produced and how deposits can be organised in time and space.

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Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Abbreviations xv

Introduction: A Depositional Approach to the Study of Archaeological Excavations 1

1 Principles of Site‐formation or Depositional Processes 11

1.1 The Concept of the Deposit 11

1.2 Types of Archaeological Deposits 14

1.3 Anthropogenic Sediments 14

1.4 Some Misconceptions of Site‐formation and Depositional Processes 16

1.5 Soils and Post‐Depositional Processes 16

1.6 Recording Deposits and Site‐formation Processes (Stratigraphy) 18

2 Natural Sediments and Processes in Sites 21

2.1 Introduction 21

2.2 Principles of the Transport and Deposition of Sediments 22

2.2.1 Physical Processes 22

2.2.2 Sediment Properties 24

2.2.3 Fabric 28

2.2.4 Sedimentary Structures 28

2.2.5 Some Remarks on the Interpretation of Textures, Fabrics, and Sedimentary Structures 33

2.3 Mass Movement in Sites 34

2.3.1 Slides and Slumps 35

2.3.2 Rock and Debris Falls, and Avalanches and Grain Flows 37

2.3.3 Solifluction 40

2.3.4 Debris Flows and Mudflows 43

2.4 Water Flows in Sites 47

2.4.1 Shallow Water Flows 47

2.4.2 Hyperconcentrated Flows 57

2.4.3 High‐energy Flows 60

2.5 Aeolian Processes 63

2.6 Biological Sediments and Processes 68

2.6.1 Dung, Coprolites, and Guano 68

2.6.2 Bioturbation 71

2.7 Post‐depositional Features and Processes 75

2.7.1 Erosional Features, Deflation, Lags, Stone Lines, and Pavements 76

2.7.2 Diagenesis 78

2.7.3 Soil‐forming Processes 86

2.8 Concluding Remarks 93

3 Anthropogenic Sediments 99

3.1 Introduction 99

3.2 Burnt Remains 100

3.3 Organic Remains and Human Activities 116

3.3.1 Biological Constructions (Matting, Roofing) 116

3.3.2 Stabling 117

3.4 Formation of Construction Materials 124

3.4.1 Living and Constructed Floors 124

3.4.2 Mudbricks, Daub and Other Mud Construction Materials 132

3.4.3 Mortar, Wall Plaster 135

3.5 Maintenance and Discard Processes 138

3.5.1 Sweeping and Raking 138

3.5.2 Dumping and Filling 140

3.5.3 Trampling 146

3.6 Concluding Remarks 148

4 Site Stratigraphy 149

4.1 Introduction 149

4.2 Historical Overview 150

4.3 The Definition of Stratigraphic Units in an Excavation 151

4.4 Nature of Contacts 154

4.5 Time and Stratigraphy 157

4.6 Massive Thick Layers 157

4.7 Basic Stratigraphic Principles 158

4.7.1 The Principle of Superposition of Beds 158

4.7.2 The Principle of Cross‐Cutting Relationships 159

4.7.3 The Principle of Original Continuity of Layers 160

4.7.4 The Principle of Original Horizontality of Layers 160

4.7.5 The Principle of Included Fragments 160

4.8 What is ‘In Situ’? 161

4.9 Human Constructions and Depositional Stratigraphy 162

4.10 The Concept of Facies 162

4.11 Practicing Stratigraphy 164

4.11.1 Erosional Contacts and Unconformities 166

4.11.2 The Importance of Baulks and Sections 167

4.11.3 Inclined Layers 168

4.12 Concluding Remarks 169

5 Non‐architectural Sites 171

5.1 Introduction 171

5.2 Open‐air vs Cave Sites 172

5.2.1 Caves 172

5.2.2 Open‐air Sites 189

5.3 Other Stratigraphic Themes 192

5.3.1 Burials 192

5.3.2 Palimpsests 194

5.4 Concluding Remarks 197

6 Architectural Sites 199

6.1 Introduction 199

6.2 Roofed Facies 199

6.3 Diachronic Spatial Organization 203

6.4 Unroofed Facies 204

6.4.1 How to Recognize an Unroofed Area 204

6.4.2 Destruction and Abandonment of Buildings 205

6.4.3 Courtyards, Gardens, and Other Open Spaces 209

6.4.4 Street Deposits 211

6.5 House Pits, Pueblos and Kivas 213

6.5.1 House Pits 213

6.5.2 Plastered Floors from Structure 116 216

6.5.3 Pueblos and Kivas 217

6.6 Tombs 218

6.7 Monumental Earthen Structures 219

6.8 Concluding Remarks 221

7 Some Approaches to Field Sediment Study 223

7.1 Introduction 223

7.2 Drawing 223

7.3 Photography 224

7.4 Sampling Strategy 225

7.5 Representative Sampling 225

7.5.1 Sampling Methods 225

7.5.2 Number of Samples 226

7.5.3 Size of Samples 227

7.5.4 Micromorphological Sampling 228

7.5.5 Microarchaeological Sampling 229

Concluding Remarks 231

References 233

Index 265