Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 1571–1583 | Cite as

Buried soils in the context of geoarchaeological research—two examples from Germany and Ethiopia

  • Dana PietschEmail author
  • Peter Kühn
Original Paper


Pedology is a discipline with a wide range of applications in geology, geomorphology, archaeology, geoarchaeology and geography. Especially paleopedology aims are to answer questions about climatic changes, rates of pedogenic processes, pedostratigraphy, suitability of former surface soils and human occupation. In combination to other disciplines, pedology aims to advance geoscientific methods at different scales, and during the last decades, (paleo)pedological research increasingly touched archaeological fields whereby soil research was mostly somehow included in geoarchaeology. When the term ‘archaeopedology’ was introduced in the 1940s, researchers were already aware of the importance of the subject ‘soil’ as being a key figure when answering questions of site formation history, cultural chronology and environmental change. The present paper aims to reintroduce this term to the scientific community and to accentuate the importance of buried soils within geoarchaeological research. Shown by two different studies, one from Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Ueckermünder Heide/Germany and one from ancient Yeha/Ethiopia the archaeopedological approach highlights the importance of pedological research on- and off-site excavations by clearly bridging a gap between archaeology, geoarchaeology and (paleo)pedology.


Archaeopedology Upper Palaeolithicum Mesolithicum Ancient period Ueckermünder Heide/Germany Yeha/Ethiopia 



We thank the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), especially Dr. Iris Gerlach for support of fieldwork in Yeha, and Dr. Christian Bogen and Dr. Knut Kaiser for many discussions in NE Germany. Finally, we also thank two unknown reviewers for their helpful comments.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Physical Geography and Soil ScienceEberhard Karls University of TübingenTübingenGermany

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