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date: 11 April 2021

(p. 495) Multidisciplinary Scientific Network


The remarkable quantity of exceptionally well-preserved organic material has facilitated the development of a multidisciplinary scientific network. Part 4 shows the great potential of synergetic collaboration between the various disciplines, in order to obtain the best results within archaeological research. For instance Jacomet (Chapter 29) stresses the importance of systematic sampling strategies for more effective palaeoecological reconstructions (discussed in Chapter 31). Taphonomical factors influence the site formation as well as preservation processes. One has to be careful, though; the fact that waterlogged sites retain higher quantities of plant remains could be misleading if the site's taphonomy is not properly understood and the material not properly sampled.

Reconstructing palaeoenvironments and understanding climate change in the past has become a germane part of wetland archaeological projects. French (Chapter 32) and Magny (Chapter 34) show how geoarchaeology and palaeoclimatology joined efforts produce outstanding results in identifying the various causes of past climate variations. An area of research that is becoming more and more part of the multidisciplinary scientific network in wetland archaeological excavations is archaeoentomology (subfossil insect analysis: Chapter 30). The sensitivity of insects to environmental change is remarkable, therefore extremely useful to confirm (or contradict) possible theoretical advances. An interesting area of (p. 496) research which can complement and enhance the results of archaeobotanical and archaeozoological as well as anthropological analyses is aDNA, although, as pointed out in Chapter 33, there are still some issues to be resolved as far as waterlogged remains are concerned.

Collaborations between disciplines are also very much part of dating methodologies in archaeology. Wetland environments are particularly suitable for the preservation of organic remains (including large quantities of wood) and lacustrine annual sediments. This not only facilitates the application of three major dating techniques (14C dating, dendrochronology, and varve dating) but allows for continuous calibrations of the various methods, to increase their precision and accuracy. Radiocarbon dating (Chapter 35) for instance, relies on dendrochonology (Chapter 36) to calibrate dates within the Holocene, and varves (Chapter 37) beyond that timespan. At the same time, dendrochronology needs the 14C method, when, despite the availability of wood, the tree-ring master sequence of a specific period is not available. By combining the two techniques (e.g. by using wiggle-matching), the high precision of the former can to a certain degree still be maintained. Although it is clearly understood that these three dating techniques are not only applied in wetland archaeology, it has to be recognised that it was mainly thanks to the material recovered from wetland archaeological excavations/projects that these methods have reached their exceptional level of development.

The ultimate goal of Part 4 is not simply to show the potential of a single specific discipline within wetland archaeological research, but to demonstrate that the best results are obtained by combining the efforts of various disciplines—most importantly, not only within wetland archaeology!