Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2018

1 January 2019

Reconstructing Archaeological Sites: Understanding the Geoarchaeological Matrix

Panagiotis Karkanas & Paul Goldberg

Reconstructing Archaeological Sites: Understanding the Geoarchaeological Matrix

City: Oxford

Year: 2018

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Description: Hardback, 296 p., numerous b/w and colour tables and figures cm


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.


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
1.2 Types of Archaeological Deposits
1.3 Anthropogenic Sediment
1.4 Some Misconceptions of Site‐formation and Depositional Processes
1.5 Soils and Post‐Depositional Processes
1.6 Recording Deposits and Site‐formation Pro-cesses (Stratigraphy)

2 Natural Sediments and Processes in Sites [21]
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Principles of the Transport and Deposition of Sediments
2.3 Mass Movement in Sites
2.4 Water Flows in Sites
2.5 Aeolian Processes
2.6 Biological Sediments and Processes
2.7 Post‐depositional Features and Processes
2.8 Concluding Remarks

3 Anthropogenic Sediments [99]
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Burnt Remains
3.3 Organic Remains and Human Activities
3.5 Maintenance and Discard Processes
3.6 Concluding Remarks

4 Site Stratigraphy [149]
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Historical Overview
4.3 The Definition of Stratigraphic Units in an Excavation
4.4 Nature of Contacts
4.5 Time and Stratigraphy
4.6 Massive Thick Layers
4.7 Basic Stratigraphic Principles
4.8 What is ‘In Situ’?
4.9 Human Constructions and Depositional Stra-tigraphy
4.10 The Concept of Facies
4.11 Practicing Stratigraphy
4.12 Concluding Remarks

5 Non‐architectural Sites [171]
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Open‐air vs Cave Sites
5.3 Other Stratigraphic Themes
5.4 Concluding Remarks

6 Architectural Sites [199]
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Roofed Facies
6.3 Diachronic Spatial Organization
6.4 Unroofed Facies
6.5 House Pits, Pueblos and Kivas
6.6 Tombs
6.7 Monumental Earthen Structures
6.8 Concluding Remarks

7 Some Approaches to Field Sediment Study [223]
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Drawing
7.3 Photography
7.4 Sampling Strategy
7.5 Representative Sampling
Concluding Remarks

References [233]
Index [265]


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