Environmental Archaeology

For some people, environmental archaeology is the application of methods from the natural sciences to archaeological problems by measuring or counting the materials archived in soils, sediments and other places where a record of the past is stored. These problems are often of the sort concerning where people come from, what they ate, how they lived, or how did they interact with their landscapes. This is of course something of an over simplification. Modern archaeological science is… or at least should be… an integrated mix of theories, methods, data and points of view from multiple branches of science. As far as I’m concerned, this is the way all science should be undertaken, and anybody who tells you that something is not real archaeology, history, ecology or whatever is probably severely limited in their horizons and capacity for lateral thinking. The latter (no pun), is a key to great discoveries.

Environmental humanites flower with extra petals

So, environmental archaeology the an interdisciplinary science of the past. It overlaps extensively with Quaternary science, and many individuals labelled as one or the other frequently publish in journals related to either field. We are a pragmatic breed, and readily adopt new technologies and theories alongside more traditional, tried and tested methods (which one of the reasons why archaeology started to adopt digital technologies some 50 years before the current Digital Humanities growth emerged).

My interests are simply to understand what has happened in the past. The past is a long time, and we can learn a lot from it. I particularly like doing this with fossil beetles (see palaeoentomology) and using databases to relate new data to the wealth of results produced by others.