This article offers an introduction to acoustic remote sensing. In shipwreck studies, acoustic remote sensing has traditionally been used for reconnaissance surveys and for site relocation. With the advent of higher-resolution sonar systems, the focus in shipwreck studies has shifted toward site reconstruction and studies of site formation. Acoustic systems provide baseline data at rates higher than those of experienced dive teams. This article describes how acoustic data is generated. It describes the profiling methods such as single-beam echo-sounders and sub-bottom profilers, and swath methods such as side-scan sonar and multibeam echo-sounders. The last few years have seen developments of multielement sonar platforms, which allow for the acquisition of true concurrent sonar data sets from one platform. Every phase of development in sonar technology brings an increase in sensors' resolving capability and therefore the ability to image smaller and smaller artifacts in greater detail.
Wouter F.M. Henkelman
The administration of the Persepolis region is revealed in two groups of cuneiform tablets, written predominantly in Elamite and Aramaic, that were excavated at Persepolis in the 1930s by Ernst Herzfeld. The history of scholarship on these texts is discussed and the administrative system of which they formed an integral part is explained. The territorial extent of the Persepolis economy is described and the protocols used in dictating, writing, sealing, and archiving these texts are outlined.
Analytical techniques and research methodologies for archaeological ceramic analysis have changed drastically over time; however, the way we record and represent ceramics graphically has not undergone significant change in response to new technologies. This chapter discusses the method of traditional pottery illustration, line and shading or monochrome drawings done by hand, its demerits and proposes a new illustration style which combines traditional drawing formats, photography, and computer software. The new method of pottery drawing overcomes these demerits and shows the illustrations in an analytical method. Moreover this new method can benefit archaeologists to comprehend ceramic on wider geographical regions and enhances opportunities for research.
Angela Schlumbaum and Ceiridwen J. Edwards
This chapter begins by defining ancient DNA and providing a brief history of ancient DNA and its potential for archaeology, followed by discussions of the technological aspects of ancient DNA; ancient DNA methodology; and state of the art, advantages, and disadvantages of wetland/wet sites. Ancient DNA retrieval from waterlogged material remains poorly understood. In many cases, DNA is unfortunately completely destroyed. However, given the rapid evolution of technology, both of instrumentation and development of techniques (e.g., new methods to reduce inhibition), improved results from waterlogged material are expected in the future.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Archaeobotanical research focuses on the study of past people–plant relationships. This includes a reconstruction of the diet, subsistence, agricultural strategies, social and cultural role of food, exploitation of wild resources, procurement of fodder, aspects of seasonality, and environment in which people and their animals dwelt. The accuracy of archaeobotanical reconstructions, however, depends on the quality of the botanical data recovered from excavations. This chapter discusses how both preservation and research methodology affect interpretation, emphasizing the possible routes of entry of plant remains into the deposits and the loss of evidence due to poor preservation conditions. It presents several case studies which underline the potential of waterlogged preservation and demonstrate that failure to understand the taphonomical processes can lead to inaccurate and biased interpretations of the data.
Interpreting remote sensing data is one of the most important tasks of archaeologists working in submerged environments. Researchers rely on remote-sensing technologies to aid their search for historic shipwrecks of interest. Magnetometers are essential for detection of buried shipwrecks. The main goal of magnetic interpretation has been to distinguish shipwrecks from debris, usually resulting in an archaeological assessment of each anomaly concerning its potential for historic significance. The past two decades have seen improvement in archaeologists' abilities to detect shipwreck anomalies. This article provides a basic, nonmathematical summary of magnetism relevant to archaeological interpretation and the evolving perceptions of shipwreck anomalies. The basis for assessing magnetic anomaly significance must be firmly rooted in empiricism in order to improve the objectivity of data interpretation.
William R. Caraher and David K. Pettegrew
Since the Renaissance, archaeology has played a significant albeit changing role in illuminating the history of early Christianity. This chapter surveys different historical approaches to archaeological investigations of Christianity, from early efforts to authenticate or disprove the traditions and practices of the Catholic church to the development of the field of early Christian archaeology in continental Europe and through to more recent efforts to reconstruct the social and economic contexts of early Christian sites and landscapes between the first and eighth centuries. This chapter offers a state of the field, highlighting the positive achievements of archaeologists over the last two centuries and drawing attention to problems of method, interpretation, and approach that modern scholars are working to correct. It recommends repositioning the field within the disciplinary framework of archaeology itself while also encouraging fruitful interdisciplinary conversation.
Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Bruno David, Robert G. Gunn, Jean-Michel Geneste, and Stéphane Jaillet
Understanding the rock art of a cave or rock shelter requires positioning the art in its landscape setting. This involves both spatial and temporal dimensions because a site’s layout changes through time, necessitating an examination of site formation processes. In this chapter, the authors present a new approach—archaeomorphology—that unites archaeological and geomorphological methods to explore the history of the objects and spaces that make up a site. Archaeomorphological mapping allows researchers to track through time the changing configuration of sites, including rock surfaces, the morphogenic forces at work, and, with this, the changing spatial contexts of the art on its surfaces. Archaeomorphology shifts attention away from the site as a ‘natural’ canvas upon which inscriptions were made to its social engagement as an actively constructed architectural and performative space.
When telling stories through rock art, the artist formed an intimate relationship with the audience through the act of conveying such stories. Ethnographic evidence in many parts of the world suggests that the artist is merely a device through which stories are transmitted from rock surface to audience, whereby the artist becomes an intermediary within the act of performance through the medium of the brush, chisel, and finger, thus creating a theatre of performance. During this performance, the artist used many devices to either conceal or promote the narrative; one of the props used within this performance would have been the panel on which the art was performed, placing figures into spatial context and observing the rules of grammar. This chapter explores how early artists selected and used various rock surfaces, utilizing the rock face’s colour, texture, placement, and natural topography to mimic the surrounding landscape.