Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Urban Landscapes: Environmental Archaeology

  • Allan Hall
  • Harry Kenward
  • Mélanie Rousseau
  • Allison Bain
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2110


Archaeological deposits formed within settlements large, long lasting, and complex enough to be called towns pose interesting challenges for the environmental archaeologist. They are places where large concentrations of organic materials are always likely to have been amassed, used, and discarded. Consequently, in some cases organics – including delicate plant and animal fossils – form a large part of the archaeological record, as in the early medieval towns of Northern and Northwestern Europe (e.g., Carver’s (2009: 11) “organic crescent”). By contrast, many urban deposits, particularly if they are well-drained sedimentary contexts, are almost devoid of the remains of animals and plants other than the most decay-resistant charred plant material, bone, and shell. Stratigraphy may be very complicated, however, with repeated reworking of deposits over time.


Urban dwellers live under conditions very different from those in the surrounding countryside, but...

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  4. Thiébault, S. 2010. L’archéologie environnementale de la France. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  5. Wilkinson, K. & C. Stevens. 2003. Environmental archaeology : approaches, techniques & applications. Stroud: Tempus.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Hall
    • 1
  • Harry Kenward
    • 1
  • Mélanie Rousseau
    • 2
  • Allison Bain
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.CÉLAT, Département d’histoireUniversité LavalQuébec CityCanada