Humans have always been affected by changes in their landscape and, in turn, had an influence on their physical surroundings. The soils and sediments that archaeological material and features are found within yield invaluable clues as to how sites form, what types of activities people performed in them, and what kinds of natural and cultural processes altered the archaeological record from deposition to excavation (and thus what does and doesn’t preserve).
This course introduces the methods of studying archaeological remains from an environmental context in order to reconstruct the physical and social relationships between people and the physical environment. Drawing on case studies from different areas of the world, we will examine the nature of sediments and soils from archaeological sites, with particular emphasis on soil micromorphology as a tool for reconstructing human activity and site histories.
Students will learn to use geoarchaeology as a means of framing research questions designed to explore the complexities of both physical and social human-environment interactions in the archaeological record at a variety of different scales.