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Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology

Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology

Paul Goldberg , Richard I. Macphail

ISBN: 978-1-118-68819-9

May 2013, Wiley-Blackwell

472 pages



Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology provides an invaluable overview of geoarchaeology and how it can be used effectively in the study of archaeological sites and contexts. Taking a pragmatic and functional approach, this book presents:

  • a fundamental, broad-based perspective of the essentials of modern geoarchaeology in order to demonstrate the breadth of the approaches and the depth of the problems that it can tackle.
  • the rapid advances made in the area in recent years, but also gives the reader a firm grasp of conventional approaches.
  • covers traditional topics with the emphasis on landscapes, as well as anthropogenic site formation processes and their investigation.
  • provides guidelines for the presentation of field and laboratory methods and the reporting of geoarchaeological results.
  • essential reading for archaeology undergraduate and graduate students, practicing archaeologists and geoscientists who need to understand and apply geoarchaeological methodologies.

Artwork from the book is available to instructors online at:

“This is one of the best textbooks that I have read in years. I enjoyed reviewing it, and found it well-written and thorough in its coverage of the traditional earth science aspects of geoarchaeology. The non-traditional aspects were intriguing and equally thorough... I predict that this book will become the textbook of choice for geoarchaeology classes for several years.”

Geomorphology 101 (2008) 740–743




Part I Traditional Geoarchaeology.

1. Sediments.

2. Stratigraphy.

3. Soils.

4. Hydrological Systems I: Slopes and Slope Deposits.

5. Hydrological Systems II: rivers, Lakes, and Wetland.

6. Aeolian settings and Geoarchaeological Environments.

7. Coasts.

8. Caves and Rockshelters.

Part II Nontraditional Geoarchaeological Approaches.

9. Human Impact on Landscape: Forest Clearance, Soil Modifications, and Cultivation.

10. Occupation Deposits I: Concepts and Aspects of Cultural Deposits.

11. Occupation Deposits II: Examples from the Near East, North America, and Europe.

12. Experimental Archaeology.

13. Human Materials.

14. Applications of Geoarchaeology to Forensic Science.

Part III Field and Laboratory Methods, Data, and Reporting.

15. Field-based Methods.

16. Laboratory Techniques.

17. Reporting and Publishing.

18. Concluding Remarks and the Geoarchaeological Future.




"The textbook "Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology" deserves special consideration...with its scientific contents and high standard printing art is a significant step in the development of a new branch - ecological archaeology."
T. F. Urushadze, Annals of Agrarian Science, December 2012

"There is a new exceptionally good geoarchaeology text - it is written for you. It tells you what a soil is, what a sediment is, is easy to read well illustrated and designed for the field archaeologist and not just the environmental and soil scientist. It gives practical information and general information (and includes lab methods etc) and in my opinion it isthe best textbook on the subject going and is suitable for all archaeologists."
Dr Michael J Allen, Environmental Manager, Wessex Archaeology and Reviews Editor, The Prehistoric Society

"The authors of this book do a fantastic job explaining complex ideas, frequently using key sites to show how geoarchaeology was critical in understanding the full story of a site’s archaeology.", June 2006

"Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology gives a thorough introduction to the discipline, allowing the reader to gain a broad understanding of its possible applications ... A good basis for undergraduate and masters students approaching geoarchaelology."
Archaeological Review from Cambridge

"Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology provides a comprehensive introduction to an increasingly important sub-discipline of archaeology ... ideal as both a comprehensive introduction to the subject and as a reference."
Canadian Journal of Archaeology

“This is an excellent textbook, and it will be a resource for all archaeologists who want to integrate geoarchaeology into their research.”
Journal of Geology

"An invigorating and important book that offers new insights … An excellent collection that aims to position the sociology of work at the heart of the discipline." Geomorphology

Artwork - Chapter 1

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  • provides an invaluable overview of geoarchaeology and how it can be used effectively in the study of archaeological sites and contexts

  • encompasses new developments in geoarchaeology that are grounded upon conventional approaches

  • covers traditional topics with the emphasis on landscapes, and non-traditional geoarchaeological approaches such as anthropogenic site formation processes and their investigation

  • includes guidelines for the presentation of field and laboratory methods and the reporting of geoarchaeological results.