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Principles of Geoarchaeology
A North American Perspective
By Michael R. Waters
398 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1997
Paper (978-0-8165-1770-1) [s]
Related Interest
  - Earth and Space Sciences
  - Archaeology

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
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.


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

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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