The value of anthropogenic sediment to archaeological study
Britton, Loreleen Kym
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Anthropogenic sediments, particularly those found in constructional contexts, have been used rarely for the purpose of deducing ancient cultural activities, especially at tel sites. Traditionally, for these types of archaeological enquiries, the emphasis has been on studying architectural features such as walls and floors, sealed deposits, or in situ artefact assemblages. In contrast, this thesis examines the potential systemic information that can be derived from anthropogenic sediments. As these sedimentary deposits are formed or allowed to accumulate as a consequence of human activities, it is suggested that they contain similar culturally significant information as other artefacts and features, and thus deserve to be studied as such. In an effort to create an interpretive foundation for the analysis of anthropogenic sediments, a standardised terminology is proposed and a catalogue of materials and formation processes is created. As well, the systemic significance of various elements contained within the deposits, such as pottery shards, bones, the chemical composition of the earthen material, and the physical propenies of the earthen material is examined. To test the applicability of the interpretive foundation, a case study was conducted on a small sample of anthropogenic sediments from the site of Tel Dor, Israel. These sedimentary deposits were derived from a variety of functional and systemic contexts dating from the Persian to Roman periods. It was found that the careful examination of this sedimentary component of the archaeological site provided useful 'added value' to the analysis and interpretation of a number of systemic processes and contexts that related to the occupation of the ancient city of Dor. Information was obtained about construction materials and methods, ancient human activities that had occurred in the excavated area, and dates of construction and abandonment. This thesis shows that anthropogenic sedimentary deposits are valuable features of archaeological sites. It demonstrates that the theoretical and archaeological frameworks that have been developed through this research can enhance significantly the archaeologists comprehension of the systemic reality revealed through the excavation of archaeological sites.