Thursday, January 27, 2011

Techniques in Archaeological Geology


Springer has been quite prolific in archaeological science texts recently. Another new publication is "
Techniques in Archaeological Geology", by Ervan Garrison, as part of the "Natural Science in Archaeology Series". This text puts archaeology in terms of its geological origins, from sites to sources.

Chapter titles include:

-Survey and Mapping the Geomorphological and Geological Context
-Geophysical Techniques for Archaeology
-Field Sampling Techniques for Archaeological Sediments and Soils
-Analytical Techniques for Archaeological Sediments
-Petrography for Archaeological Geology
-Instrumental Analytical Techniques for Archaeological Geology
-Statistics in Archaeological Geology

From the Springer website:
"The archaeological geology of the Quaternary or the geological epoch during which humankind evolved is a scientific endeavor with much to offer in the fields of archaeology and palaeoanthropology. Earth science techniques offer diverse ways of characterizing the elements of past landscapes and archaeological facies. This book is a survey of techniques used in archaeological geology for the study of soils, sediments, rocks and minerals. The techniques presented represent those most commonly used today. They are discussed in detail and examples are provided, in many cases, to demonstrate their usefulness to archaeologists."

At least from the preview this one is going in my research library, and I am looking forward to reading and reviewing it in full.

ISBN: 978-3-540-43822-9

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Archaeometry at the SAA, Sunday 3 April 2011

And, some final archaeometry for those who make it to the last day of the conference:

Sponsored Forum: Anthropogenic sediments as archaeological objects: a discussion forum (Sponsored by Geoarchaeology Interest Group)

General Session: Isotope Research: Insights and Contributions

Hmmm, not too much. Maybe I should shoot for brunch with Governor Brown.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Archaeometry at the SAA, Saturday 2 April 2011

Some archaeometrically oriented symposia on the 3rd day of the conference (SAS-sponsored symposia are in bold):

Poster Session: Faunal Analysis and Taphonomy

Sponsored Symposium: 1st International SAA Symposium for Recent, International Advances in the Use of pXRF and other Portable, Field Technologies for Archaeochemical Studies of Sites in the Americas
(Sponsored by Wondjina Research Institute, Country Chemist; Co-Sponsored by The Society For Archaeological Science, the pXRF Users Group, OLYMPUS INNOV-X )

Symposium: Bioarchaeological and Archaeological Perspectives on Migration, Diet and Health in Prehistoric Central California

Sponsored Symposium: Archaeometry in Fiber and Perishables Research (Sponsored by Fiber & Perishables Interest Group)

Electronic Symposium: Constructing a database of late Pleistocene/early Holocene archaeological C14 dates for South and Central America

Sponsored Forum: The Future of Bioarchaeology: A Forum in Honor of Jane E. Buikstra, the 2010 Fryxell Award Winner (Sponsored by Fryxell Award Committee)

Sponsored Symposium: From the Field to the Synchrotron Ring: Discovering Ancient Worlds Through Modern Technologies (Sponsored by The Society for Archaeological Sciences)

Poster Session: Bioarchaeology of the Americas 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Archaeometry at the SAA, Friday 1 April 2011

Electronic Symposium: Current methods in paleoethnobotany

General Session: Archaeological Applications of GIS, GPR, and Remote Sensing

Symposium Fryxell Symposium: Papers in Honor of R. Lee Lyman

General Session: Paleoethnobotanical Studies in the Americas

General Session: Paleoecology and Paleoenvironments of Africa and Eurasia

General Session: Advances in and Applications of XRF and LA- ICP- MS

Sponsored Symposium:  Clovis - Current Perspectives on Technology, Chronology, and Adaptations (Parts I and II)

General Session: Paleoethnobotanical Studies: Global Perspectives

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Archaeometry at the SAA, Th 31 March 2011

The preliminary program is available for the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento.

I'll put up some of the sessions which look to me as if they contain significant amounts of archaeometry/geoarchaeology, by meeting date.

By the way, I hate the way SAA organizes its sessions, with organizers being able to cherry pick contributors without an open process of submission.


For Thursday 31 March ( a good day for SAS-sponsored symposia):

General Session: Pleistocene Landscapes,Technologies, and Lifeways in the Old World

Poster Session: Global Perspectives on Ceramic Analysis

Sponsored Symposium Chemical Residue Analysis in Archaeology: Method Development and Residue Diagenesis (Sponsored by The Society for Archaeological Sciences)

Poster Session: Paleoethnobotanical Studies

General Session: Paleoecology and Paleoenvironments of the Near East

Forum: Multiple data and access: Effective means of integrating archaeobotanical data in broader archaeological research projects

Poster Session Weird Science: The State of the Art of Experimental Archaeology

Poster Sessions: Advances and Applications of XRF and LA- ICP- MS- Parts 1 and 2

Poster Session: Archaeological Applications of GIS, GPR, and Remote Sensing

Poster Session: Integrating Geophysical Surveys into Archaeological Investigations

Sponsored Poster Session: The Scientists behind the Archaeologists: Indiana Jones’ Geeky Siblings

Sponsored Symposium: Beyond Descriptive Analysis: Recent Advances in the Studies of Lime Plasters (Sponsored by Society for Archaeological Sciences)

Sponsored Symposium: The Cutting Edge: The State of Play in World Obsidian Studies (Sponsored by Society for Archaeological Science & International Association for Obsidian Studies)

Symposium: Tree- Rings, Climate and Behavior: The Legacy of Jeffrey S. Dean

Symposium: Studying Beads around the Indian Ocean: New approaches, methodologies, and insights from an overlooked artifact

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fall of Rome Recorded in Trees

A new report published this month in Science, 2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility, suggests that climatic variability coincided with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Abstract
Climate variations have influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution palaeoclimatic evidence. Here, we present tree ring–based reconstructions of Central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~AD 250 to 600 coincided with the demise of the Western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Historical circumstances may challenge recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.

Science Now provides the following discussion of the implications of this study in the article Fall of Rome Recorded in Trees -- with the interesting observation that "By counting wood samples, the analysis also created a rough measure of human activity. In eras of prosperity, more trees were cut down for building and fuel, yielding more samples in the archaeological record. At other times, like the years after the Black Death and the so-called Migration Period between 300 C.E. and 600 C.E. when the Roman Empire was overwhelmed by tribes pushing in from the east, the number of wood samples dwindles to nearly nothing. "It's an interesting proxy of demographic trends and really the most provocative part of the study," says Stahle."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ancient Winemaking in Armenia

The recent edition of Journal of Archaeological Science and some mainstream media report on the earliest known winemaking site to date, found in Armenia. The cave site reveals a complex of wine-making vessels and bio-molecular evidence and wine residues that imply not only wine drinking, but wine-making as well. The authors cite the presence of malvidin in potsherd residues, as determined by reverse-phase SPE combined with a quadrupole mass spectrometer, as evidence for wine production. Let's raise our glasses to that!

Barnard, H., et al., Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern highlands, Journal of Archaeological Science (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jas.2010.11.012

Monday, January 10, 2011

Neanderthals and DNA in the news

As part of its end of the year 2010 in the news series, NPR had a review (text and audio) on Neanderthal and DNA stories.

Read about the 40,000 year-old finger (Neanderthal) and the 4,000 year-old bald guy (not Neanderthal), the Neanderthal genome, and the Neanderthal in us.

(You will not read about the Geico Neandertal in the photo.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review of ISA 2010, Tampa

Here is a review of the recent ISA, Tampa, published in Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, by Ruth Fillery-Travis, UCL Institute of Archaeology. It's a good and fair summary, and also expresses some concern that the ISA is not sufficiently addressing Dunnel's critique of archaeometric studies.

Ruth also has her own blog, Finds and Features, on archaeometallurgy.

Picture of Ruth from the PIA:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

JONAS - Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science

 The Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science (JONAS) publishes original theoretical and applied papers by experienced and younger researchers within the field of archaeological science, a cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary branch of archaeology. The aim is to solve archaeological problems by integrating scientific and technical methods and employing a wide range of disciplines, e.g. soil chemistry, bone chemistry/DNA, palaeopathology, archaeobotany, diet, metallurgy, textiles, structure analyses of various materials, prospecting, preservation of objects etc. Authors from the Nordic–Baltic area are especially welcome. Articles are peer-reviewed by competent editors and renowned experts.
The current issue for April 2010 and the list of back issues suggest that publication has been resumed after a hiatus of several years.

Keep it up, JONAS!