A short introduction by J.R.L. Allen. viii+140 pages; illustrated in colour and black & white (28 colour plates). 363 2017. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784916879. Epublication ISBN 9781784916886. |
This short introduction aims to provide archaeologists of all backgrounds with a grounding in the principles, materials, and methods of geology. Sections include coverage of main rock-forming minerals and classes of rocks. Geological maps and structures are introduced, and the elements of geological stratigraphy and dating are explained and related to archaeological experience. Fluvial and coastal environments are important archaeological landscapes and their formation processes, sediments and topography are outlined. Stone for building, implement-making, tool-making, and making mortar are all discussed, followed by an introduction to clays and ceramics. A final chapter introduces metallurgical landscapes: metalliferous ores, mining and smelting, and metal-making industries. Each chapter ends with a short reading list, and many have selected case-histories in illustration of the points made. Included is a glossary of technical terms.
About the author
Emeritus Professor John Allen is currently a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading. He took a degree in Geology at the University of Sheffield and for many years taught Geology at Reading, where his chief interests were in the sedimentology of fluvial deposits (especially the Devonian Old Red Sandstone) and in sedimentary processes and structures. In the 1980s he turned his attention to modern estuarine sediments, and became increasingly interested in the archaeology of British coastal environments, especially those of the Severn and other estuaries, where he showed in collaboration with professional archaeologists that an appreciation of geological processes is essential to an understanding of the archaeological sites and their landscapes. His contributions to postgraduate courses in Geoarchaeology at Reading stress the importance of an understanding of geological principles, maps, and materials, especially rocks and minerals, to the refinement and resolution of numerous archaeological problems.
'Geological form and process fundamentally underpin archaeology, but many archaeologists only have a patchy understanding of it - or even a fear of the sedimentary unknown. John Allen's book is therefore hugely welcome, and it fills a long-neglected gap... All-in-all, it is a wonderful tome. All Current Archaeology readers, be they practitioners, specialists or those with a keen interest in the natural world and archaeology, need this book in their lives.' - Catherine Barnett (Current Archaeology #336, March Issue, 2018)
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