Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Allan S. Gilbert

Rockshelter Settings

  • Susan M. MentzerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4409-0_159


  • English: cove; hole; hollow; rock shelter; rockhouse; rock-shelter; shelter

  • French: abri, abri sous roche, grotte

  • Spanish: abrigo roscoso, cova, cueva

  • German: Felsdachshutz, Höhle

  • Italian: riparo, grotta

  • Arabic: ghar


Rockshelter. A natural cavity enclosed by one or more rock walls and an overhang that provides protection from the elements (wind, precipitation, sun, or a combination thereof).


Rockshelters are important settings for archaeological sites because they form in numerous ways and in a variety of bedrock types and landscapes. The same properties of rockshelters that provide protection to their human and animal inhabitants also contribute to the protection and preservation of archaeological deposits left within them.

Humans exploit rockshelters for a variety of reasons. Ethnographic studies have revealed many different human behaviors and spatial patterning of material remains within these sites. For example, Binford (1996) notes that...

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William R. Farrand (1931–2011) laid the foundation to a comprehensive framework for the study of rockshelter sequences and, in doing so, influenced and motivated a generation of geoarchaeologists, including the author, whose work here depends greatly on his research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Archaeological SciencesUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.School of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA