Theory and Practice in Geoarchaeology: A Brief Discussion with Examples

Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


As previously noted, the first edition of this book did not contain any discussion of theory nor for that matter practice in geoarchaeology. In many regards, the present chapter reprises much of that banished discussion, hence the seemingly heavy reliance on articles that date from that earlier time period. Those discussions are still germane and have been largely retained from those preceding edits as well as updated. Henry Frankel (2012) in his four-volume treatise on the controversy of continental drift and the rise of plate tectonics theory makes it clear that plate tectonics theory is just that—a theory. There is no agreed upon explanation for the origin nor the mechanism for movement of the Earth’s continental plates. Plates move; that is proven, but that is the mechanism, not the reason nor the explanation. That said, continental drift-plate tectonics theory is the greatest theoretical accomplishment of the twentieth century by earth science. Before that time, geology made, perhaps, two salient contributions to the general knowledge of the Earth system. The first was the principle of uniformitarianism, as proposed by James Hutton, and established in geology by Lyell, as more than just a “method” for describing the Earth. Likewise, geology’s recognition of the antiquity of the Earth expanded our understanding of the natural world. Arthur Holmes published The Age of the Earth: An Introduction to Geological Ideas (Holmes 1913/1927) in which he presented a range of 1.6–3.0 billion years.


Debris Flow Archaeological Record Tephra Layer Continental Drift Rock Shelter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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