Alluvial Geoarchaeology: Floodplain Archaeology and by A. G. Brown

By A. G. Brown

This complete technical guide is designed to offer archaeologists the mandatory heritage wisdom in environmental technological know-how required to excavate and research archaeological websites by way of rivers and on floodplains. Bringing jointly details at the evolution and exploitation of floodplain and river landscapes, this article attracts on examples from Britain, Europe, North the USA and Australasia. a huge subject matter is the interplay among climatic and cultural forces and the transformation of riverine environments.

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Extra info for Alluvial Geoarchaeology: Floodplain Archaeology and Environmental Change (Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology)

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This regime was caused by cold dry conditions in the East African Highlands and it produced a wide floodplain some 40 m above the present level between the first and second cataracts, where it corresponds with the area of the Sebilian culture. The Pleistocene period, which ended with overflow from Lake Victoria and increased rainfall in Ethiopia, was followed in the Holocene by permanent river flow and a period of extreme floods which caused incision of the river into its floodplain (Adamson et al, 1980).

The effect of a baselevel rise is also limited, as there is little evidence that the upstream growth of a coastal sedimentary wedge will continue above the maximum point reached by the backwater curves produced by the new base-level. In the 1960s there was a re-evaluation of the traditional mechanisms and importance of grade, driven by the discovery that (a) steady state or equilibrium streams (neither aggrading nor degrading) do not necessarily have smooth profiles and (b) aggradation/degradation is determined by catchment conditions, especially slope erosion, and not by base-level control.

Instead they should be considered in the light of economic stress caused by environmental change. Although the floods and droughts certainly did cause some changes in settlement patterns and affected national and personal prosperity, the archaeological record shows that this was not always the case. For example Trigger (1970) has shown that Arminna in Nubia, which was a riverbank settlement, remained prosperous throughout a period of damagingly high floods (AD 600-1000). Studies of societies' adaptation in situ are probably more revealing about human environmental relations than the many studies which have 'explained' abandonment in the face of environmental stress.

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