Caitlin Dempsey


Geoarchaeology is an applied field of study which uses analytical techniques from the fields of Geology and Geography with relevance to Archaeology. Geoarchaeology uses geospatial technologies such as GIS in combination with human, physical, and environmental concepts pulled from Geography and Geology.

The term Geoarchaeology was coined by Colin Renfrew, a English prehistorian, in the preface of the book named “Geoarchaeology: World Technology and the Past”  from 1976. Renfrew stated, “This self-discipline utilizes the skills of the geological researcher, using his issue for dirt, sediments and land types to focus these upon the historical “site” and to examine the conditions which controlled its place, its development as a down payment and its following maintenance and lifestyle history”.

Understanding ground science, sedimentology (study of sediments) and stratigraphy (study of adding of rocks), and their part in identifying the actual qualities of the excavations, is becoming progressively important to fully appreciate their medical and traditional value.This information allows to understand the traditional information perfectly. It also allows in better knowing of historical human actions on the ground and scenery, thus tossing light on person’s social record, development and communications with earth through age groups.

Techniques of Geoarcheology

There are various stages during a geoarchaeological analysis such as planning, mapping  the area, study of the place, excavation, and certification of the outcomes. For an effective result, appropriate tools and techniques should be used to perfectly catch the details.

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Some of the techniques utilized:

  • Regional-scale methods such as Antenna Digital cameras, Satellite tv visuals, Distant Realizing and Computer Cartography to examine the landscape
  • Geophysical methods which include Magnetometry, Electrical Resistivity and Ground Infiltrating Radar (GPR) to expose the characteristics of the site
  • Use of Coring, Augering and Trenching equipment for website excavation
  • Sampling from excavations using various techniques like large examining, methodical examining (bottom up collection) and unchanged examining, based on characteristics of the sample.
  • Laboratory Evaluation of the examples using methods like Soil Research, Granulometry (grain size analysis), Low Heat range LOI (Loss on Ignition) examining, Attractive Vulnerability Research, Fluorescence Microscopy, Picture analysis and other Geochemical analysis methods to determine the actual, substance and scientific qualities.
  • Documenting the outcomes through well-structured Reviews, which details all the methods and examples used, pictures examined, implications attracted and cost reports.

Though it is not necessary to totally follow each of the methods during a analysis, sensible use of available methods is essential.

Geoarchaeology has variety of  applications for scientific research:

  • Agriculture: learning the effect of historical farming methods and manuring on ground which allows to plan maintainable farming and ground management in future.
  • Environmental Preservation: knowing the effect of natural habitat disturbance on the environment.
  • Civil Engineering: assessing Historical Man-made designs to create materials with longer durability.
  • Forensic Science: implementing geoarchaeological information to collect proof such as finding key burial plots, profiling foot printing or tool represents from ground etc.

Geoarchaeology Resources

See Also

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.