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Title: Mediterranean Soils with Particular Reference to Archaeology
Author: James, Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 8170
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2008
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Following a review ofthe Mediterranean environment and its development during the late Quaternary, eleven published papers, one paper in preparation, a book (which accompanies the thesis volume) and as yet unpublished data are presented on seven areas of the Mediterranean (in s Portugal, Sicily and Greece). The aims of the research are to consider methodologies in the study of .soils in relation to archaeology (including the relationships between soils, geomorphology and archaeology), and to consider questions of relevance to such research, including a number which have been raised, but not satisfactorily answered, in the wider literature on the Mediterranean. The research comes within the area of geoarchaeology. The studies presented cover a range of spatial scales: single soil profile and archaeological excavation context - the hillslope - river catchmentand broader region. General conclusions in respect of the questions raised include the following. 1. Significant differences in environment and soils occur between the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions arising particularly from climate, but also from other aspects of the environment and human history. Distinctively Mediterranean soils began forming in the Pleistocene or earlier; Holocene soils tend to be weakly de~eloped and similar to soils of cool temperate regions. 2. Geomorphological changes in the physical landscape during the Holocene are generally well defined, if not always well dated. 3. Evidence from much of the Mediterranean points to environmental resilience (an ability to recover from disturbance) rather than 'degradation', though some 20th and 21 st century land use pressures have caused changes that are probably significantly faster and possibly more severe than any during the Holocene. 4. The 'paradox' ofthe Mediterranean - much diversity within elements of strong regional conformity - may result in local factors in environmental change overriding major regional. In many cases, data are not available to permit more than speculation as to the relative importance of anthropogenic versus natural triggers of change during the last five millennia. Intensive, local studies are required to test assertions about major regional effects. 5. For its impact on the archaeological record, 'erosion' must be defined in terms of precise processes and their potential effects in the context of detailed conditions on the hillslope; analysis of valley alluvial sediments, though invaluable in the study of erosion history, cannot fully address these questions. 6. Geoarchaeological analysis requires close integration of archaeological, geomorphological and pedological analyses. Research applying soil information to archaeological diagnosis of excavation contexts also requires a closely integrated, multidisciplinary approach to sampling and analysis, and to intensive computer processing and advanced statistical methods of data analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available