Skip Navigation

Geoarchaeology

Geoarchaeology is the study of the taphonomic processes that occur in archaeological contextsusing knowledge and methods from Earth Sciences. After abandonment, sites where archaeological artefacts were accumulated suffer several alterations due to natural factors (such as bioturbation, erosion, transport, pedogenesis, chemical alteration, etc.) and/or human impact (soil mixing from agriculture and forestry, construction, etc.). These should be identified in order to evaluate site integrity. Among the different sciences used in geoarchaeological research, geomorphology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, micromorphology and geochemistry can be highlighted.

Geoarchaeology, along with other archaeosciences (palaeobotany, archaeozoology, lithic technology, human bioarchaeology, etc.) allows us to identify the taphonomic processes that occurred at the archaeological sites as well as to reconstruct past human behaviours and people’s relation/interaction with the environment in the course of time.

The geoarchaeologist’s work begins in the field and ends in the laboratory. The observation of an archaeological site in situ is essential to understand site formation/alteration processes and to distinguish between natural and human impacts. After field observation, the soils and sediments recovered are analysed and interpreted in the laboratory using methods and protocols defined intralab.