Principles Geoarchaeology: A North American Perspective

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Overview

Geoarchaeological studies can significantly enhance interpretations of human prehistory by allowing archaeologists to decipher from sediments and soils the effects of earth processes on the evidence of human activity. While a number of previous books have provided broad geographic and temporal treatments of geoarchaeology, this new volume presents a single author's view intended for North American archaeologists. Waters deals with those aspects of geoarchaeology—stratigraphy, site formation processes, and landscape reconstruction—most fundamental to archaeology, and he focuses on the late Quaternary of North America, permitting in-depth discussions of the concepts directly applicable to that research. Assuming no prior geologic knowledge on the part of the reader, Waters provides a background in fundamental geological processes and the basic tools of geoarchaeology. He then proceeds to relate specific physical processes, microenvironments, deposits, and landforms associated with riverine, desert, lake, glacial, cave, coastal, and other environments to archaeological site formation, location, and context. This practical volume illustrates the contributions of geoarchaeological investigations and demonstrates the need to make such studies an integral part of archaeological research. The text is enhanced by more than a hundred line drawings and photographs. CONTENTS
1. Research Objectives of Geoarchaeology
2. Geoarchaeological Foundations: The Archaeological Site Matrix: Sediments and Soils / Stratigraphy / The Geoarchaeological Interpretation of Sediments, Soils, and Stratigraphy
3. Alluvial Environments: Streamflow / Sediment Erosion, Transport, and Deposition / Alluvial Environments: Rivers, Arroyos, Terraces, and Fans / Alluvial Landscapes Evolution and the Archaeological Record / Alluvial Landscape Reconstruction
4. Eolian Environments: Sediment Erosion, Transport, and Deposition / Sand Dunes / Loess and Dust / Stone Pavements / Eolian Erosion / Volcanic Ash (Tephra)
5. Springs, Lakes, Rockshelters, and Other Terrestrial Environments: Springs / Lakes / Slopes / Glaciers / Rockshelters and Caves
6. Coastal Environments: Coastal Processes / Late Quaternary Sea Level Changes / Coastal Environments / Coastal Landscape Evolution and the Archaeological Record / Coastal Landscape Reconstruction
7. The Postburial Disturbance af Archaeological Site Contexts: Cryoturbation / Argilliturbation / Graviturbation / Deformation / Other Physical Disturbances / Floralturbation / Faunalturbation
8. Geoarchaeological Research
Appendix A: Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating the Effects of Fluvial Landscape Evolution on the Archaeological Record
Appendix B: Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating Site-Specific Synchronic and Diachronic Alluvial Landscape Reconstructions
Appendix C: Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating Regional Synchronic and Diachronic Alluvial Landscape Reconstructions

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Waters has undertaken a formidable task in writing a treatise on geoarchaeology, a multifaceted field in which practiioners normally specialize in only a few facets. . . . An excellent book." —Geoarchaelogy"In Prinicples of Geoarchaeology, Michael Waters presents a detailed and enlightening view of the field of geoarchaeology and successfully links theory and practice on one volume. . . . It explicitly avoids laborious discussions of anlaytical techniques such as micromorphology or soil analysis, which are more fully explored elsewhere. The emphasis placed on field aspects of geoarchaeology is well directed and amply illustrated with examples derived from field studies. . . . An excellent summary of mainstream approaches to the subject." —American Scientist"This well-written book offers ample proof of the productive interaction between the geosciences and archaeology over approximately the past 60 years. Throughout the book, Waters provides examples of geoarchaeological research from the Quaternary Period of North America supporting his opinion that such studies 'enhance the interpretation of human prehistory.'" —The Holocene
Booknews
Presents the fundamentals of geoarchaeology, through application of field techniques to a study of the late Quaternary of North America. Alluvial, eolian, terrestrial and coastal environments are considered, as well as postburial physical disturbances of archaeological sites. Aimed at an archaeological audience, no prior knowledge of geology is assumed. With 100-plus well-produced b&w photos and line drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816517701
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 748,820
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Geoarchaeology 3
Research Objectives of Geoarchaeology 7
2 Geoarchaeological Foundations 15
The Archaeological Site Matrix: Sediments and Soils 15
Stratigraphy 60
The Geoarchaeological Interpretation of Sediments, Soils, and Stratigraphy 88
3 Alluvial Environments 115
Streamflow 116
Sediment Erosion, Transport, and Deposition 120
Alluvial Environments: Rivers, Arroyos, Terraces, and Fans 123
Alluvial Landscape Evolution and the Archaeological Record 157
Alluvial Landscape Reconstruction 163
4 Eolian Environments 185
Sediment Erosion, Transport, and Deposition 185
Sand Dunes 187
Loess and Dust 202
Stone Pavements 204
Eolian Erosion 208
Volcanic Ash (Tephra) 210
5 Springs, Lakes, Rockshelters, and Other Terrestrial Environments 215
Springs 215
Lakes 220
Slopes 230
Glaciers 234
Rockshelters and Caves 240
6 Coastal Environments 249
Coastal Processes 249
Late Quaternary Sea Level Changes 251
Coastal Environments: Erosional, Submerged, and Depositional Coastlines 254
Coastal Landscape Evolution and the Archaeological Record 262
Coastal Landscape Reconstruction 280
7 The Postburial Disturbance of Archaeological Site Contexts 291
Cryoturbation 292
Argilliturbation 299
Graviturbation 301
Deformation 304
Other Physical Disturbance Processes 306
Floralturbation 306
Faunalturbation 309
8 Geoarchaeological Research 317
Appendix A. Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating the Effects of Fluvial Landscape Evolution on the Archaeological Record 321
Appendix B. Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating Site-Specific Synchronic and Diachronic Alluvial Landscape Reconstructions 323
Appendix C. Geoarchaeological Studies Illustrating Regional Synchronic and Diachronic Alluvial Landscape Reconstructions 325
References 327
Index 389
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