Curtis Runnels and Justin Holcomb (GRS’20) published article

Curtis and Justin have published an article in the journal Quaternary International titled “Deposit-centered archaeological survey and the search for the Aegean Palaeolithic: A geoarchaeological perspective.” Congratulations!

Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2020.04.043

Abstract: Recent archaeological discoveries from the Greek islands of Crete and Naxos point to the presence of hominins in the Aegean Basin beginning at least in the Middle Pleistocene (~200 ka), indicating that the region may have been an important dispersal route for hominins (including humans) entering southeastern Europe. Currently, archaeologists lack a clear understanding about where Palaeolithic sites should exist throughout the region. Consequently, archaeologists are hindered in their ability to construct the chronostratigraphic frameworks necessary to place the Aegean Palaeolithic into broader narratives of human biogeography until more buried and scientifically dated sites are found. Addressing this issue, we review one successful survey strategy that has proven effective in increasing the likelihood of discovering archaeological sites of Pleistocene age – namely, systematic geoarchaeologically informed research frameworks centered on targeting Pleistocene geologic deposits (soils and sediments). Such an approach has worked well on mainland Greece (and elsewhere) but has yet to be operationalized for application in the Greek islands. Here we review the approach and suggest that deposit-centered surveys can function in four phases of varying degrees of complexity and scale and can be implemented either independently or in tandem with traditional archaeological pedestrian surveys. We also review Quaternary deposits and their associated geomorphic settings that are likely to contain Palaeolithic artifacts to aid future deposit-centered surveys in the Greek islands. We conclude that future archaeologists should implement the approach to target depositional settings in near-shore coastal areas (e.g., alluvial fans with stratified Pleistocene-aged paleosols), sometimes identified by paleo-sea-level-indicators (sea notches, marine terraces, and aeolianites), such as those seen on, Antiparos, Kythera, Crete (northern and southern coasts), Karpathos, and Rhodes. Further, we argue that non-coastal geomorphic settings like internally-drained basins on Crete and Rhodes, similar to those on the mainland, should be systematically searched for Palaeolithic sites. The deposit-centered survey strategies reviewed here provide a means for archaeologists working in the Aegean Basin to predict high probability locations for Palaeolithic archaeological sites. This geoarchaeological approach can be used in similar geomorphic settings around the world and therefore has implications for filling geographic gaps in our understanding of hominin dispersals in the Pleistocene.

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