Institute of Archaeology



Subject coverage will include material from Macphail and Goldberg (2013):

Chapter Keywords:

  1. Geoarchaeology, Geology, Sediments, Microfacies, Soil Science, Experiments, Archaeological Reconstructions, Reference Materials, Fieldwork, Sampling
  2. Palaeoenvironment, Macrofossils, Microfossils, Soil Chemistry, Magnetic Susceptibility, XRD, Microprobe, SEM/EDS, Micro-FTIR, Image Analysis
  3. Soil Micromorphology, Optical Petrology, Description Protocols, Numerical Studies, Database Production, Photomicrography
  4. Buried Soils, Paleosols, Post-Depositional Processes, Mull Humus, Moder Humus, Mor Humus, Topsoils, Subsoils
  5. Soil-Sediments, Alluvium, Colluvium, Peat, Boxgrove, Chongokni, Allerød, Hillwash
  6. Base Level Rise, Marine Inundation, Experiments, Boxgrove, Kirkhill Quarry
  7. Archaeological Materials, Anthropogenic Deposits, Constructions, Turf, Lime Plasters, Fire Installations, Metal Working, Salt Working, Coprolites, Cess
  8. Hunters and Gatherers, Caves, Chipping Floors, Burnt Mounds, Middens, Boxgrove, Southfleet
  9. Clearance, Palaeoagriculture, Cultivation, Experiments, Manuring, Worldwide Cultivation, Gardens, Water Management
  10. Occupation Surfaces, Use Of Space, Floors, Ethnoarchaeology, Experiments, Stabling, Domestic Space, Industrial Activity
  11. Settlement Morphology, Constructions, Trackways, Middens, Latrines, Water Management, Industrial Space, Salt Processing, Funerary Features
  12. Site Transformation, Post-Depositional Processes, Destruction, European Dark Earth, Maya Dark Earth

The chief themes from previous Training Weeks will also be utilised:

  • 'Soils and Sediments as Material Culture'
  • 'Experimental and Analogue Data-based Models of Site Formation Processes'; Classic Overton Down and Wareham Experimental Earthwork Projects; Mixed farming settlement morphology, including domestic and byre floor deposits and Roman building materials from Romano-British Butser Ancient Farm; Pig husbandry at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village; Cultivation experiments in boreal forest zone and turf roof at Bagböle Ancient Farm, Umeå, Sweden; Marine inundation at Wallasea Island, Essex.
  • 'A Holistic Approach to Archaeological Microstratigraphy: integration of artefact, environmental and geoarchaeological data in addition to that from petrological analyses'. (Study examples include those supported by EDS, microFTIR, microprobe, and bulk chemistry, micro- and macrofossil and archaeological data supplied by project team members)
  • Some description fundamentals, including: differences between groundmass and pedofeatures; pedofeatures (and various formation processes - 'equifinality')
  • Soil micromorphology and reporting (including use of soil microfabric types (SMTs), counting and production of microfacies types (MFTs); employment of complementary techniques EDS, microFTIR, microprobe, and bulk chemistry, micro- and macrofossil and archaeological data.
  • Basic soil types; differences between soils, sediments and archaeological deposits; effects of burial (Experimental Earthworks Project to Lower Palaeolithic Boxgrove, UK; terrestrial and coastal/intertidal sediments; world-wide soils and sediments).
  • Hunter-gatherer sediments and caves (Palaeolithic and Mesolithic open air (including prehistoric USA) and cave sites; middens and 'hearths'; effects of fauna and cave sediment formation processes; freeze-thaw to guano)
  • Clearance and low impact (e.g., herding) activities (burned mounds, tree-throw holes, erosion/colluviation, rock shelter stables, grazing and stock concentrations, including new Norwegian examples)
  • Cultivation (low intensity)(recognition and effects on soils) and pene-contemporaneous and other post-depositional process (physical, biological and chemical transformations)
  • Settlement - animal management and manuring (settlement morphology, land use, trackways, ditches, middens); irrigated sites and water management including Native American sites and reference to rice paddy cultivation.
  • Structures and occupation surfaces (constructions, construction materials, floor make-ups, soil plasters, turf, mud brick, daub, beaten floors); turf mounds and other structures
  • 'Classical' deposits and Dark Earth (lime floors and plasters/mortar, paint, brickearth walls, weathering) - new Maya material from Belize.
  • Medieval structures, use of space and industrial traces (road fills, grubenhäusser and other SFB's, latrines, structures and surfaces, slag and metal traces; lead working, copper processing, use of alloys, salt working deposits from UK and Belize)
  • Multidisciplinary studies, employment of bulk and microfossil data, microprobe; consensus interpretations
  • Continual practice on your own or reference thin sections
  • Description and interpretation - exercise in description and interpretation and 'reporting' to your colleagues.

Reading and reference

  • Stoops, G., Marcelino, V., and Mees, F., 2010, Interpretation of Micromorphological Features of Soils and Regoliths.: Amsterdam, Elsevier, p. 720.

I use my own textbook; this includes the protocols of description and interpretation which I've employed in teaching the course over the years - and which I use professionally.

  • Macphail, R.I. and Goldberg, P. 2013. Applied Soils and Micromorphology in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press.
  • Goldberg, P. and Macphail, R.I. 2006. Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 455 pp.
  • Stoops, G. 2003. Guidelines for Analysis and description of Soil and Regolith Thin Sections. soil Science Society of America, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Bullock, P., Fedoroff, N., Jongerius, A., Stoops, G. and Tursina, T. 1985. Handbook for Soil Thin Section Description. Waine Research Publications, Wolverhampton.
  • Courty, M.A., Goldberg, P. and Macphail, R.I. 1989. Soils and Micromorphology in Archaeology. Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

I'll also email some descriptive and counting table protocols ahead of the course, where numerous pdfs (for download) and offprints (for copy), will be available.

Accomodation options