Island Archaeology

  • Helen DawsonEmail author
Living reference work entry


The basic premise of island archaeology is to understand how humans used islands in the past. Island archaeology considers the geographical characteristics of insular spaces as a starting point for further analysis, often within a comparative and diachronic framework. In this context, islands are considered to deserve specialist study, with three approaches featuring more prominently in the literature: (1) islands come in so many different shapes and forms that their comparison can shed light on several types of human/environmental adaptations; (2) they are like “laboratories,” i.e., microcosms or simpler versions of the mainland; and (3) they have specific characteristics that set them aside from other geographical settings.

Not everybody agrees that islands are “special” or inherently “different” from mainland situations: coastal and island locations – for instance – share many features, proximity to the sea being the most obvious one. Nevertheless, islands, especially...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Topoi Excellence ClusterFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK