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Title: Experimental archaeology and the formation processes of the archaeological record : the effects of trampling and soil fauna on geological evidence of metalworking
Author: Speed, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2014
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This is an experimental investigation of some archaeological site formation processes. The investigation used laboratory based container experiments to study differential earthworm bioturbation of soil lead and copper with macro-artefacts using Lumbricus terrestris and Eisenia fetida, during six month studies. A second experiment traced the geochemistry of experimental metal working at Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire, both spatially and in depth profile. Soil chemical analysis in all cases followed a similar technique, using aqua regia pseudo-total extraction soil digests, followed by analysis using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICPOES). The soil chemical patterns developed in a new experimental metalworking hut at Butser Ancient Farm were confined almost totally to the top 5cm of the soil profile, but could not conclusively be related to the number of episodes of metalworking in the hut. This was mostly due to the effects of trampling, and frequent reconstruction of the metalworking furnaces. Thirdly, the effects of trampling on artificially seeded macro-artefacts were related to chemical traces within the soil at experimental metal working sites at Butser Ancient Farm. Sedimentological models were adapted to analyse the differential movement of the macro-artefacts, and used to suggest movement pathways around the experimental metalworking areas. The models developed from these experimental investigations were used to inform interpretations of activity areas on an excavation at Insula IX, Si1chester, Hampshire, using Middle Range Theory to relate the observed experimental patterns to the excavated archaeology. Suggestions are made that the use of the distributions of a population of chemical concentrations can give better interpretations of activity areas than the use of individual concentration values. This may be a way of overcoming the great inherent variability in soil samples, while keeping current soil sampling regimes, and a manageable number of samples. It is further suggested that acid soil digests can possibly conflate high element concentrations arising from several different formation pathways. The bioturbation studies suggested some differential separation of soil chemical values and macro-artefacts initially arising from a single artificial assemblage. The geochemical and trampling experiments allowed some more sophisticated interpretations of soil chemical patterns to be suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available