Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Geochemistry

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series pp 1-11

Date: Latest Version

Archeological Geochemistry

  • Patrick DegryseAffiliated withEarth and Environmental Sciences, division Geology, Centre for Archaeological Sciences, KU Leuven Email author 
  • , R. Alexander BentleyAffiliated withComparative Cultural Studies and Hobby School of Public Affairs, University of Houston, McElhinney Hall


Archaeological geochemistry is the discipline which integrates geochemical analysis techniques and methods into the study of the human past, to answer questions on subsistence, migration, environment, and the transport and use of natural raw materials.


Archaeology is an interdisciplinary science par excellence. In its quest to reconstruct human behavior in the natural and cultural environment in the past, it uses knowledge and techniques from many different academic disciplines. As the exact sciences are increasingly integrated into archaeological research throughout the world, a range of geochemical tools are applied to archaeological questions dating from early hominins of the Plio-Pleistocene to Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, early Neolithic farmers, and great early state civilizations. Archaeological geochemistry began with the investigation of ancient materials, particularly stone ...

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