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.
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.
Any ceramic object represents the result of a well-structured production chain starting with the localization and the exploitation of a suitable raw material and ending with the artisanship and craftsmanship of the potter. The study of ceramic raw materials has been increasingly regarded in archaeometric research as the best starting point for identifying local paste recipes for pottery diachronically produced in any historical period. The classification of a ceramic paste and its assignment to a production center can be established more easily when ceramic sherds, kiln wasters, and raw material are studied in combination. The reconstruction of the “production chain” should facilitate the study of specific kiln sites or wider regional ceramic circulation. The chapter deals with the most relevant compositional and physical properties of clayey ceramic raw materials. Mineralogical and chemical compositions are discussed together with some characteristic properties such as plasticity, swelling, flocculation, and experimental texts.
This chapter considers the main aspects of the development of dendrochronology within wetland archaeology. It discusses the rise of dendrochronology in wetland archaeology; the dendrochronological revolution and its significance for wetland archaeology; dendrochronology and the socio-economy of wetland settlements; timber sources and woodland development; and the ecological dimension of dendroarchaeology.
This chapter discusses examples of major types of wetland landscape from a geoarchaeological and soil analytical perspective. Principal methodological approaches are suggested and interpretative sequences given through published examples. The effects of various post-depositional processes on the preservation of palaeosols and the interpretative data contained within are considered.
Alice V. M. Samson
The house is arguably the most significant material-culture category in anthropology and archaeology. In archaeology, house-centred approaches are popular because through the house and its associated features, the house represents a living entity, produced through past routines and practices. The focus of household archaeology is the realm of the domestic social group, which does not always imply the excavation of houses per se but stretches into other fields of social and community activity. This article suggests that the household archaeology of the pre-Columbian Caribbean is an area ripe for development. Both theoretically and methodologically, the development of household-level research questions and extensive excavation has the potential to make significant advances in understanding of the social and cultural dynamics of the earliest to the latest pre-Columbian communities.
This chapter, which focuses on the analysis of insect (more correctly arthropod) remains in wetland archaeological contexts, briefly describes the methodology for subfossil insect analysis and the factors affecting the identification of insect material. It discusses archaeoentomological research in peatlands, crannogs, floodplain environments, and estuarine and coastal deposits, concluding with some future directions for insect analysis in wetland archaeology.
Integrating Geoarchaeology with Archaeology for Interdisciplinary Understanding of Societal–Environmental Relations
Karl W. Butzer
Despite an early growth of interest in archaeological problems by the science community, systematic application of earth science in a major field project during the 1920s was not directly followed up. But by 1960 environmental archaeology had become a focus of problem formulation, experimentation, and innovation, thanks to excavations led by both Classical and Anthropological archaeologists. Adequate professional training did not follow, given disciplinary hurdles and funding traps, so that geoarchaeology remained a multidisciplinary goal rather than an interdisciplinary commitment. This chapter lays out how the methods of geoarchaeology can be applied to retrieving pragmatic rather than deductive data on environmental history, which can contribute to understanding global and regional problems of degradation. This offers an avenue to monitoring human impacts and environmental change, critical for understanding landscape histories, as well as for contemporary or future issues of sustainability in coupled human–environmental systems.
Palaeoecology is the study of former environments, including the materials and processes of their formation, the ecosystems they supported, and the temporal fluctuations in the relationships between biological organisms. This chapter focuses on the application of palaeoecology to archaeology, and especially wetland archaeology. The discussions cover palaeoenvironmental indicators; palaeoecology and wetlands; wetland archaeology and palaeoecology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; recent developments in wetland palaeoecological investigations; and the range of palaeoecological evidence used in modern investigations.
Robert Van de Noort
This chapter examines the future of wetland archaeology in the twenty-first century, focusing on the impact of climate change. It first describes the impact of climate change on wetlands using the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and then considers the kinds of practical and political responses required from wetland archaeologists. Finally, the chapter discusses how we can develop an archaeological theory of wetlands that is fit for purpose in an era of climate change.
Wetland Archaeology in the Media and Popular Literature: Loosening the Scholarly Taboos of the 20th Century
This chapter examines the image of wetland archaeology in the media and popular literature. It describes the ambiguous perceptions about wetland archaeology – hardly valued as a fruitful field of research and often seen as a specific thematic approach, apparently disconnected from all the various concerns of archaeology and anthropology. The chapter considers the lake-dwelling myth, which froze the research agenda of wetland archaeology, focusing minds on a rather simplistic issue to the detriment of other more productive, and meaningful problematics. It also discusses the overspecialization and narrow ambitions of wetland archaeology.