Session: #321

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Contemporary Approaches to the Investigation and Management of Archaeological Resources in Alluvial Environments
Alluvial environments contain rich archaeological records, both in terms of ecofactual and artefactual evidence, but they are also challenging to investigate. The subsurface stratigraphy of river valley floors is complex, with fine-grained alluvial sediments concealing archaeological remains and sites, whilst at the same time preserving organic deposits. The burial of such rich archaeological records within and under alluvium renders most conventional techniques of archaeological prospection ineffective and alternative solutions, largely derived from earth sciences, have therefore been sought.

Although recognition of this challenge is not new, the variety and sophistication of methods available has increased in recent decades. This includes, but is not limited to, terrestrial investigations to create stratigraphic profiles of sediment architectures, airborne and satellite remote sensing techniques to understand the geomorphological complexity of these systems, and deeper methods of geophysical survey, allied to 3-dimensional computational modelling. In tandem with this, absolute dating of sediments has provided a step-change in understanding the timing and speed of change within these sedimentary systems. This is most commonly achieved through radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence calibrated through Bayesian statistics, and has led to the definition of legacy sediments and wider-scale human impacts across catchments. Despite this, optimal methods for the investigation of archaeological potential within these alluvial systems requires further development. Consideration of how these different data sources and approaches can be integrated will provide greater understanding of past human impacts across river catchments and ultimately enable more effective management of the historic environment resource.

In this session, we therefore call for papers from archaeologists and associated heritage professionals that critically assess the role that multi-methodological approaches can make towards elucidating the alluvial archaeological record. In particular, we welcome contributions that integrate these methods synergistically to form more holistic interpretations and models of alluvial evolution and past human-environmental dynamics.
Geoarchaeology, Environmental Reconstruction, Remote Sensing, GIS, Chrono-stratigraphy, Computational modelling
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Nicholas Crabb (United Kingdom) 1
Chris Carey (United Kingdom) 1
Andy Howard (United Kingdom) 2
Matthieu Ghillardi (France) 3
1. University of Brighton
2. Landscape Research and Managment
3. Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE)