Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Allan S. Gilbert


  • Vance T. HollidayEmail author
  • Rolfe D. Mandel
  • E. Arthur BettisIII
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4409-0_173


Archaeologists generally realize that there is an important relationship between cultural deposits and associated soils. Yet, their understanding of what a soil is, as well as what soils can reveal about site formation processes, landscape development, and environments of the past, varies greatly. Although archaeologists should not be expected to have a complete grasp of pedology, they should be capable of recognizing and interpreting soils in an archaeological context in order to comprehend fully the record of the human past (Mandel and Bettis, 2001).

Soils are a part of the stage upon which humans evolved. As an integral component of most natural landscapes, soils also are an integral component of cultural landscapes. Furthermore, soils are indicators of the nature and history of the physical and human landscape, they record the impact of human activity, they are a source of food and fuel, and they reflect the environment and record the passage of time. Soils also affect...

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vance T. Holliday
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rolfe D. Mandel
    • 2
  • E. Arthur BettisIII
    • 3
  1. 1.Anthropology and Departments GeosciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA