Geoarchaeology uses geology to inform archaeology. This interdisciplinary approach means that, for example, archaeologists looking for evidence of human occupation of an area can more precisely determine where to excavate, potentially saving much wasted time and money. The alternation of glacial and interglacial periods in southern England generated large, episodic changes in sea level superimposed on a steadily rising land surface. Together with the effects of freeze-thaw action on the exposed geology, they produced the features cited in the third verse.

A knowledge of geology
Can help with archaeology
For those who seek our ancient human roots,
Removing the impediment
Of overlying sediment
And proving that our ancestors weren’t brutes.

They lived, as now we know,
Where ancient rivers flow;
But river courses change as time goes by.
So you need to find the places
Where those rivers left their traces –
It’s data geo-science can supply.

River terraces, raised beaches,
Brickearths, ‘head’, ‘solution features’,
Now buried, unexplored, perhaps unknown,
Can indicate a site
Where investigators might
Turn up a crafted flint or butchered bone.

If carefully assessed,
Such evidence can suggest
How Palaeolithic people  once survived.
And thus, with these two ’ologies,
Helped along by new technologies,
Geoarchaeology has arrived!

[Image of section through the Bytham River gravels at Brooksby Quarry, Leicestershire, UK: Copyright University of Leicester Archaeological Services 2015 (used with permission) – see also Stratford upon Bytham]
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