Geology and archaeology have a long history of fruitful collaboration, stretching back to the early 19th century. Geoarchaeology--the application of the geosciences to solve research problems in archaeology--has now emerged as a recognized sub-discipline of archaeology, especially in the United States. Traditionally, the methods used include geomorphology, sedimentology, pedology and stratigraphy, reflecting the fact that most archaeological evidence is recovered from the sedimentary environment. As reflected in the sub-title, this volume embraces a broader definition, including geophysics and geochemistry.
Geophysical techniques, both terrestrial and remote, are now used routinely to locate and horizontally map buried features of archaeological interest. New developments include the use of georadar and other methods of giving vertical information. Geochemistry has long been used to give information about the exploitation, trade and exchange of mineral resources and finished products such as metals and pottery. Refinements, such as the use of isotopic measurements to define not only exploitation but also production techniques, are increasingly being applied. Perhaps most significantly of all, geoarchaeology can contribute to an understanding of the dynamic relationship between human society and the environment in that most significant (if brief) period of geological time--that in which human activity has dramatically modified the natural world.
The papers presented here exemplify the many and varied ways in which geology and archaeology can combine to the mutual benefit of both.