Laboratory for Sedimentary Archaeology

Group Head: Prof. Ruth Shahack-Gross
Department of Maritime Civilizations
Cell: +972-54-760-8637
Office: Multipurpose Bldg., Room 116

General Information

The Laboratory for Sedimentary Archaeology is a hub for interdisciplinary archaeological research that involves the geosciences, anthropological archaeology and microarchaeology. Major research themes include a longue durée study of subsistence practices in the arid southern Levant and their historical implications, marine and coastal adaptation along the Carmel coast, building models for archaeological interpretation using ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology, and the study of anthropogenic and natural site formation processes and their effect on stratigraphy and understanding of occupation deposits.
The general research approach of the group borrows from sedimentary geology: We study anthropogenic and environmental aspects of erosion, deposition, degradation, pedogenesis, diagenesis and fossilization in archaeological sites. The group primarily studies occupation deposits, with emphases on microscopic remains of livestock dung and wood ash, but also involves in the study of macroscopic remains and features such as mud bricks and their degradation or burning processes in abandonment and destruction archaeological contexts (respectively).
We address human-induced (anthropogenic) processes through ethnoarchaeological and geo-ethnoarchaeological research, and nature-induced (environmental) processes through laboratory analyses and experimentation.
We work in sites from a variety of time periods (prehistoric, historic and modern) and environmental settings (caves, flood plains, artificial mounds, coasts, underwater).
In terms of archaeological materials studied, we focus on the taphonomy and diagenesis of bones, herbivore dung, phytoliths, wood ash, mud bricks, and recently pottery and domestic trash (see list of publications).
Previous work of this research group focused on terrestrial archaeological sites. Formation processes related to coastal and submerged archaeological sites are less explored. One of the current goals of the research group is developing new understandings about formation of maritime coastal and underwater sites.


Tel Dor

Coastal and underwater excavation at Tel Dor, Israel (2017) conducted by the Department of Maritime Civilizations (co-directed by R. Shahack-Gross and A. Yasur-Landau, in collaboration with A. Gilboa, R. Martin and I. Sharon). Formation processes at the sea-coast interface are studied here, in the context of Iron Age I Phoenician occupation (image courtesy of A. Pesso).


© 2017 Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences. All Rights Reserved.

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