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Soils and archaeology

Macphail, RI; (2010) Soils and archaeology. In: Encyclopedia of Archaeology. (pp. 2064-2072).

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Soils and archaeology as a subject developed during the 1950s and 1960s when the effects of humans on natural soils were first investigated. This was carried out using soil profile description and standard soil science techniques. During the following years, soil phosphate as a specific analytical technique came to prominence alongside such studies as mineral magnetics, particularly magnetic susceptibility (sometimes termed Χ), and landscape-scale investigations commenced. It can be noted that soil micromorphology applied to archaeology also has a very long pedigree. This article briefly examines the history of soils and archaeology, describes some of the techniques that have been the most rewarding, and details some of the progress that has been made over the last 50 years, including experiments. Archaeological soils and associated sediments are categorized in terms of the impact humans have had on them. This article thus progresses from the basics of soils that show - compared with 'control soils' (see below) - a small amount of human impact, to soils that are strongly influenced by humans and their occupation. © 2008 Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Soils and archaeology
ISBN-13: 9780123739629
DOI: 10.1016/B978-012373962-9.00290-9
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology
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URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/46027
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