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Social Sciences - Anthropology & Archaeology | Environmental Archaeology

Environmental Archaeology

Reitz, Elizabeth, Shackley, Myra

2012, XLIV, 516 p. 151 illus., 7 illus. in color.

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  • First book to enable readers to learn about the wide range of materials and methods in environmental archaeology
  • Helps to evaluate and discriminate among methods
  • Continues in the tradition of the first edition, published by Plenum, while also bringing in advances and updates in the methodology of the field itself

One of the most significant developments in archaeology in recent years is the emergence of its environmental branch: the study of humans’ interactions with their natural surroundings over long periods and of organic remains instead of the ceramic, lithic and architectural elements generally associated with sites. With the current attention paid to human responsibility for environmental change, this innovative field is recognized by scientists, conservation and heritage managers, and policymakers worldwide.

In this context comes Environmental Archaeology by Elizabeth Reitz and Myra Shackley, updating the seminal 1981 text Environmental Archaeology by Myra Shackley.  Rigorously detailed yet concise and accessible, this volume surveys the complex and technical field of environmental archaeology for researchers interested in the causes, consequences, and potential future impact of environmental change from the perspective of archaeology. Its coverage acknowledges the multiple disciplines involved in the field, expanding the possibilities for using environmental data from archaeological sites in enriching related disciplines and improving communication among them. Introductory chapters explain the processes involved in the formation of sites, introduce research designs and field methods and walk the reader through biological classifications before focusing on the various levels of biotic and abiotic materials found at sites, including:

  • Sediments and soils.
  • Viruses, bacteria, archaea, protists and fungi.
  • Bryophytes and vascular plants.
  • Wood, charcoal, stems, leaves and roots.
  • Spores, pollen and other microbotanical remains.
  • Arthropods, molluscs, echinoderms and vertebrates. 
  • Stable isotopes, elements and biomolecules.

The updated Environmental Archaeology is a major addition to the resource library of archaeologists, environmentalists, historians, researchers, policymakers—anyone involved in studying, managing, or preserving archaeological sites.

Content Level » Graduate

Keywords » Archaeological Methods - Classification - DNA in archaeological sites - Field Methods - Nomenclature - archaeological excavation process - cultural site formation processes - extraction and processing sites - organic deposits at archaeological sites - radiocarbon dating - sediments and soils in archaeology

Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Environmental Sciences

Table of contents 

Introduction to Environmental Archaeology.- Factors Affecting the Composition of an Assemblage.- Research Designs and Field Methods.- Classification and Nomenclature.- Sediments and Soils.- Seeds, Fruits, Nuts and Tubers.- Woods and Charcoal.- Pollen.- Phytoliths, Starch Grains and Spores.- Micro-organisms.- Arthropods: Spiders and Mites, fleas, Chironomids, Lice, Beetles, Rickettsiae, Ostracods, Nematode Worms, Crabs, Shrimp.- Echinoderms and Molluscs.- Vertebrate Bones and Teeth.- Other Vertebrate Tissues.- Stable Isotopes, Trace Elements, Ancient Genetics and Enzymes.- Conclusion.

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