The majority of natural scientists now believe that proxy environmental data is demonstrating significant anthropogenic changes to global climate, which in turn, is affecting landscape system thresholds and altering the spatial pattern, intensity and magnitude of geomorphological processes. Geoarchaeology can approach these questions of human causality, environmental resilience and sustainability from a medium to long-term perspective and this has the critical advantage that it can, implicitly or explicitly, include consideration of the feedback associated with these changes on human socio-cultural systems. Nevertheless, in many studies the detection of discrete feedback mechanisms of natural and anthropogenic origin remains a challenge as proxy environmental as well as archaeological data often only provide a fragmentary picture of the past. However, because geoarchaeology is by its very nature interdisciplinary, attracting geologists, soil scientists, archaeologists and social scientists amongst others, it dovetails multiple datasets that can be used to develop models and underpin hypotheses; as a consequence, integrity and reliability of this data is exceedingly important.
Human-environment interactions are a key theme in Quaternary environmental research, and also in archaeology, where it forms a major research theme in the sub-discipline of environmental archaeology. Both palaeoenvironmental and archaeological approaches are important in understanding the role that humans have played in shaping the environment, and vice versa. Although there are exceptions, in many cases these disciplines work independently, and it has been proposed that a greater degree of interaction between archaeology and geosciences could facilitate future research (Birks et al., 2014). One issue is how we can integrate different lines of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence, which are often at different temporal and spatial scales and resolutions. How do we match the intricacies and cultural influences in the archaeological record with local, regional and even global environmental records? How do we understand the impact of a changing environment on formative periods of human development? How important are environmental factors in comparison with cultural ones in influencing the changes we see in the archaeological record? The role of the geoarchaeologist is to provide a perspective which meaningfully encompasses both ends of the spectrum.
This session aims to highlight geoarchaeological best practice when considering the question of how to analyse and deal with uncertainties in data. This session welcomes papers from individuals or groups that use geoarchaeological approaches to explore past landscape evolution, geomorphological processes, human impact and system response, as well as issues of landscape resilience and human adaptation. This session invites papers which discuss methodological and theoretical approaches to integrating palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records, or which present case studies of this multi-disciplinary approach in action. Themes may include the impacts of environmental change on human development, and also how humans have influenced the environment. Approaches which effectively link multi-scalar datasets are encouraged.
Based on the result of this session we will select papers for peer-reviewed volume on geoarchaeology. This session is supported by the IAG - International Working Group on Geoarchaeology.
Invited talk: Jamie Woodward (University of Manchester)- The Holocene Geoarchaeology of the Desert Nile in Northern Sudan