Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 29506

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute of Capital Civilization and Cultural Heritage, Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development Collaborative Innovation Center on Yellow River Civilization, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, China
Interests: preservation/conservation of monuments and artifacts; museology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The present Special Issue (SI) entitled Essays in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage encompasses a broad field concerning the interaction of human development over millennia with environmental factors. The non-linear trend of evolution of ancient cultures is decisively affected by climatic change, landscape changes and more.  At the same time, natural sciences which are applied to material culture, and simultaneously, delving into the stratigraphic record, reveal and document past daily life. The task of modern humanity is to preserve the memories of the past. This Special Issue is based on selected papers presented in the digital 2nd Sino-Hellenic International Conference on Global Issues of Environment and Culture which took place on 17–19 Sept. 2021, hosted in Greece.

Beyond the selected papers, the SI will touch on other issues chronologically, covering Quaternary, e.g., palaeoanthropology and environment, climate change and ancient cultures, disaster archaeology, geoarchaeological issues, archaeometry—archaeological sciences, digital and remote sensing applications and archaeological GeoParks, to mention a few.

Prof. Dr. Ioannis Liritzis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Geoarchaeology
  • Cultural evolution
  • Sea level changes
  • Obsidian acquisition
  • Rock art
  • Climatic change
  • Digital cultural heritage and deforestation
  • Ancient civilization transformations
  • Palaeogeography
  • Paleoenvironment

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 3484 KiB  
Article
Prehistoric Astronomical Observatories and Paleoclimatic Records in Bulgaria Estimate Astroclimate during 4000–4500 BCE: A Critical Assessment
by Alexey Stoev, Yavor Shopov, Penka Maglova, Ognyan Ognyanov and Lyubomira Raykova
Quaternary 2023, 6(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat6010006 - 05 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1691
Abstract
Prehistoric astronomical observatories include a specific type of rock-cut monuments from the Mountainous Thrace in Bulgaria, with a specific shape and orientation in space, which are part of the characteristic representatives of the archeoastronomical sites on the Balkan Peninsula from the period of [...] Read more.
Prehistoric astronomical observatories include a specific type of rock-cut monuments from the Mountainous Thrace in Bulgaria, with a specific shape and orientation in space, which are part of the characteristic representatives of the archeoastronomical sites on the Balkan Peninsula from the period of 4000–4500 BCE. Earlier societies focused on the triad “astronomical instrument”—celestial objects—trained observers. When choosing sites for the construction of oriented stone complexes for astronomical observations, prehistoric people were interested in the number of clear days and nights within the tropical year, which is connected with the paleoclimate of the region and to the astroclimate, which determines the possibility of observing heavenly bodies. Here we examine 13 prehistoric astronomical observatories using the methods of archaeoastronomy in order to determine the period of their operation. Since the existence of a large number of such objects is indirect evidence of a good astroclimate, we make an assessment of the paleoclimate in the relevant era in the Bulgarian lands in order to find out if it was suitable for astronomical observations. The estimations are made according to the geological data and solar insolation luminescence proxy records of the evolution of cave speleothems from Duhlata cave in the village of Bosnek, Pernik municipality, which is still the only available experimental record of past solar insolation in Europe covering the last 20,000 years. The number of clear days and nights are estimated, and a critical assessment of the possibility of successful observations of the Sun during equinoxes and solstices is made using the methods of “horizon” astronomy and meridional culminations. It is also shown that the climate at the end of the Ice Age was cooler than today. About 11,700 years ago (11,700 radiocarbon years before 1950 CE or 11,700 BP), the climate began to warm, and forest vegetation developed on the territory liberated from the glaciers. During the Upper Atlantic (6–8 thousand years BCE), the average annual temperature on the Balkan Peninsula and in particular in Bulgaria was about 2–2.5 °C higher than it is today. This climate allows some very good astroclimatic conditions for observations of the Sun near the horizon and increases the accuracy of the observational data in determining the time of occurrence in its extreme positions on the horizon. We show that changes in climate (and astroclimate accordingly) influence the type of prehistoric astronomical observatories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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20 pages, 4930 KiB  
Article
Tracing Raw Material Sources of Prehistoric Stone Artefacts by Non-Invasive Techniques: The Case of the Early Bronze Age (3rd Mill. BCE) Site of Vathy, Astypalaia, Greece
by Maria Kokkaliari, Eugenia Adam, Andreas Vlachopoulos and Ioannis Iliopoulos
Quaternary 2022, 5(4), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5040042 - 09 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1756
Abstract
Recent findings of archaeological research in the Vathy gulf area, Astypalaia Island, indicate its continuous habitation since prehistoric times, most importantly in the transitional period from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (late 4th/early 3rd millennium BC). The evaluation of the [...] Read more.
Recent findings of archaeological research in the Vathy gulf area, Astypalaia Island, indicate its continuous habitation since prehistoric times, most importantly in the transitional period from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (late 4th/early 3rd millennium BC). The evaluation of the prehistoric stone artefacts from Vathy using non-invasive analytical methods (Near Infrared Spectroscopy—NIR), in combination with the mineral-petrographic characterization of the main lithological formations of the island, is expected to provide important information about raw material procurement and possible exchange networks. The geological study of the island combined with the analytical methods applied to the archaeological artefacts and the geological samples led to the identification of both local and allogenic materials. The possible locations of raw material sources were established and the origin of allogenic materials was estimated. The stone artefacts made of local geo-materials consist mainly of calcitic sandstone, shale, marl, and limestone/marble, comprising the largest part of the lithological formations of the island, as well as pumice and volcanic rocks of varying chemical composition. By means of a portable microscope and NIR spectroscopy, we were further able to identify allogenic geo-materials including chalcedony, mica schist, bauxite and meta-bauxite, steatite, and paragonite. Based on the mineralogical and petrographic characterization of the stone artefacts, a first attempt is made to evaluate the possible raw material sources and to identify potential intra-island modes of stone exploitation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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19 pages, 1927 KiB  
Article
Disasters and Society: Comparing the Shang and Mycenaean Response to Natural Phenomena through Text and Archaeology
by Alexander Jan Dimitris Westra, Changhong Miao, Ioannis Liritzis and Manolis Stefanakis
Quaternary 2022, 5(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5030033 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4124
Abstract
Disasters do and have happened throughout human existence. Their traces are found in the environmental record, archaeological evidence, and historical chronicles. Societal responses to these events vary and depend on ecological and cultural constraints and opportunities. These elements are being discovered more and [...] Read more.
Disasters do and have happened throughout human existence. Their traces are found in the environmental record, archaeological evidence, and historical chronicles. Societal responses to these events vary and depend on ecological and cultural constraints and opportunities. These elements are being discovered more and more on a global scale. When looking at disasters in antiquity, restoring the environmental and geographical context on both the macro- and microscale is necessary. The relationships between global climatic processes and microgeographical approaches ought to be understood by examining detailed societal strategies conceived in response to threatening natural phenomena. Architectural designs, human geography, political geography, technological artefacts, and textual testimony are linked to a society’s inherited and real sense of natural threats, such as floods, earthquakes, fires, diseases, etc. The Shang and Mycenaean cultures are prime examples, among others, of Bronze Age societies with distinctive geographical, environmental, and cultural features and structures that defined their attitudes and responses to dangerous natural phenomena, such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, and drought. By leaning on two well-documented societies with little to no apparent similarities in environmental and cultural aspects and no credible evidence of contact, diffusion, or exchange, we can examine them free of the onus of diffused intangible and tangible cultural features. Even though some evidence of long-distance networks in the Bronze Age exists, they presumable had no impact on local adaptive strategies. The Aegean Sea and Yellow River cultural landscapes share many similarities and dissimilarities and vast territorial and cultural expansions. They have an apparent contemporaneity, and both recede and collapse at about the same time. Thus, through the microgeography of a few select Shang and Mycenaean sites and their relevant environmental, archaeological, and historical contexts, and through environmental effects on a global scale, we may understand chain events of scattered human societal changes, collapses, and revolutions on a structural level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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17 pages, 15757 KiB  
Article
Novel Combined Approach of GIS and Electrical Tomography to Identify Marsh/Lake at Kastrouli Late Mycenaean Settlement (Desfina, Greece)
by Ioannis Liritzis, Niki Evelpidou, Ilias Fikos, Alexandros Stambolidis, Nectaria Diamanti, Theano Roussari, Maria Tzouxanioti, Prodromos Louvaris and Gregorios N. Tsokas
Quaternary 2022, 5(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5020026 - 04 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2207
Abstract
The Kastrouli Late Bronze settlement in Phocis province, central Greece, has been proved to have been an important center in the periphery of the Mycenaean palaces. It was reused at least partially and was cultivated until the 20th century. The presence of a [...] Read more.
The Kastrouli Late Bronze settlement in Phocis province, central Greece, has been proved to have been an important center in the periphery of the Mycenaean palaces. It was reused at least partially and was cultivated until the 20th century. The presence of a flat area off the Kastrouli hill and the seasonal flooding nowadays led to the present investigation, questioning the formation of an ancient lake or marsh/swamp. A methodological approach was applied combining the digital elevation model (DEM) and GIS of the wider and confined area, examining slopes between 0 and 5 degrees (0 and 8.75%), with electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) traverses of around 300 and 500 m, reaching a depth of 100 m. The ERT data were rapidly collected on profiles and provided a cross-sectional (2D) plot. It was found that, in the area, there is a basin with a length of 100 m and a depth of around 40–50 m. The sedimentation process over the millennia has filled the basin, with the upper 5–6 m surface layers of the area having a low resistivity. The presence of two natural sinkholes with apparent engineered hydraulic works is noted to conform to drainage and produce a habitable environment, protecting the cultivated land and avoiding a swamp associated with health issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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19 pages, 5143 KiB  
Article
The Evolution of an Ancient Coastal Lake (Lerna, Peloponnese, Greece)
by Efterpi Koskeridou, Danae Thivaiou, Christos Psarras, Evangelia Rentoumi, Niki Evelpidou, Giannis Saitis, Alexandros Petropoulos, Chryssanthi Ioakim, George Katopodis, Konstantinos Papaspyropoulos and Spyros Plessas
Quaternary 2022, 5(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5020022 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4680
Abstract
Degradation of coastal environments is an issue that many areas in Europe are facing. In the present work, an ancient coastal lake wetland is investigated, the so-called Lake Lerna in NE Peloponnese, Greece. The area hosted early agricultural populations of modern Greece that [...] Read more.
Degradation of coastal environments is an issue that many areas in Europe are facing. In the present work, an ancient coastal lake wetland is investigated, the so-called Lake Lerna in NE Peloponnese, Greece. The area hosted early agricultural populations of modern Greece that started modifying their environment as early as the early–middle Neolithic. Two drill cores in the area of the ancient lake were analysed to establish the sedimentological succession and the depositional environments using sub-fossil assemblages (molluscs and ostracods). Three lithological and faunal units were recovered, the latter being confirmed by the statistical ordination method (non-metric multidimensional scaling). The usage of sub-fossil mollusc species for the first time in the region enriched the dataset and contributed significantly to the delimitation of the faunas. These consist of environments characterised by various levels of humidity (from stagnant waters to freshwater lake) and salinity, with ephemeral intrusions of salt water to the lake, documented by mollusc and ostracod populations. We conclude that the lake and its included fauna and flora were mostly affected by climatic fluctuations rather than human intervention in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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15 pages, 5824 KiB  
Article
Palaeogeographical Reconstruction of Ancient Diolkos Slipway by Using Beachrocks as Proxies, West Corinth Isthmus, Greece
by Giannis Saitis, Anna Karkani, Niki Evelpidou and Hampik Maroukian
Quaternary 2022, 5(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5010007 - 18 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3336
Abstract
Beachrocks are well known as significant proxies for paleoenvironmental analysis as they indicate the coastal evolution. The combination of geomorphological and archaeological sea level indicators has a significant contribution to the coastal paleogeographic reconstruction. In this study, we studied a beachrock from the [...] Read more.
Beachrocks are well known as significant proxies for paleoenvironmental analysis as they indicate the coastal evolution. The combination of geomorphological and archaeological sea level indicators has a significant contribution to the coastal paleogeographic reconstruction. In this study, we studied a beachrock from the Diolkos area (West Corinth canal, Greece) and remnants of Diolkos slipway to reconstruct the coastal evolution before Diolkos construction until today. We conducted detailed mapping of Diolkos beachrock using DGPS-GNSS, as well as mineralogical analysis and OSL dating of beachrock samples. The results showed that a beachrock slab was preserved before the construction of Diolkos below it, followed by its submergence by a co-seismic event after Diolkos abandonment during 146 B.C. Consequently, a new beachrock was developed on top of the submerged Diolkos around 120 ± 14 A.D. The RSL was stable until 1596 ± 57 A.D. when the beachrock developed even closer to the present-day coastline. After 1596 A.D., it was uplifted by 12 cm until it reached today’s condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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12 pages, 3729 KiB  
Article
Digital Deforestation: Comparing Automated Approaches to the Production of Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) in Agisoft Metashape
by Matthew D. Howland, Anthony Tamberino, Ioannis Liritzis and Thomas E. Levy
Quaternary 2022, 5(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5010005 - 14 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4048
Abstract
This paper tests the suitability of automated point cloud classification tools provided by the popular image-based modeling (IBM) software package Agisoft Metashape for the generation of digital terrain models (DTMs) at moderately-vegetated archaeological sites. DTMs are often required for various forms of archaeological [...] Read more.
This paper tests the suitability of automated point cloud classification tools provided by the popular image-based modeling (IBM) software package Agisoft Metashape for the generation of digital terrain models (DTMs) at moderately-vegetated archaeological sites. DTMs are often required for various forms of archaeological mapping and analysis. The suite of tools provided by Agisoft are relatively user-friendly as compared to many point cloud classification algorithms and do not require the use of additional software. Based on a case study from the Mycenaean site of Kastrouli, Greece, the mostly-automated, geometric classification tool “Classify Ground Points” provides the best results and produces a quality DTM that is sufficient for mapping and analysis. Each of the methods tested in this paper can likely be improved through manual editing of point cloud classification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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16 pages, 3766 KiB  
Article
Characterization of the Obsidian Used in the Chipped Stone Industry in Kendale Hecala
by Üftade Muşkara and Ayşin Konak
Quaternary 2022, 5(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat5010003 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2600
Abstract
Kendale Hecala is located on the Ambar River in the Upper Tigris Basin, province of Diyarbakır in Southeast Anatolia. Various raw materials, including obsidian, radiolarite, chert, jasper, chalcedony, and quartzite, were used in the lithic industry. Obsidian artefacts constitute an average of 64% [...] Read more.
Kendale Hecala is located on the Ambar River in the Upper Tigris Basin, province of Diyarbakır in Southeast Anatolia. Various raw materials, including obsidian, radiolarite, chert, jasper, chalcedony, and quartzite, were used in the lithic industry. Obsidian artefacts constitute an average of 64% of the chipped stone assemblage. Technological analysis reveals that obsidian was brought to the settlement as nodules and chipped into various tools at the settlement. Understanding the operational sequence of the lithic industry, chaîne opératoire, including the distribution of raw material from source to site, is important to demonstrate the socio-cultural organization of the settlement in Southeastern Anatolia during the Ubaid period. In order to identify source varieties, the obsidian artefacts uncovered from Ubaid layers of Kendale Hecala were analyzed by macro-observations, and the characterization of archaeological samples was performed using a handheld XRF. Multivariate analysis of the data indicates the use of obsidian from different resources at the settlement, including Nemrut Dağ, Bingöl B, and Group 3d. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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Review

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10 pages, 745 KiB  
Review
Direct Dating of Chinese Immovable Cultural Heritage
by Robert G. Bednarik
Quaternary 2021, 4(4), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4040042 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2371
Abstract
The most extensive corpus of ancient immovable cultural heritage is that of global rock art. Estimating its age has traditionally been challenging, rendering it difficult to integrate archaeological evidence of early cultural traditions. The dating of Chinese rock art by ‘direct methods’ began [...] Read more.
The most extensive corpus of ancient immovable cultural heritage is that of global rock art. Estimating its age has traditionally been challenging, rendering it difficult to integrate archaeological evidence of early cultural traditions. The dating of Chinese rock art by ‘direct methods’ began in the late 1990s in Qinghai Province. Since then, China has acquired the largest body of direct dating information about the rock art of any country. The establishment of the International Centre for Rock Art Dating at Hebei Normal University has been the driving force in this development, with its researchers accounting for most of the results. This centre has set the highest standards in rock art age estimation. Its principal method, microerosion analysis, secured the largest number of determinations, but it has also applied other methods. Its work with uranium-thorium analysis of carbonate precipitates in caves is of particular significance because it tested this widely used method. The implications of this work are wide-ranging. Most direct-dating of rock art has now become available from Henan, but results have also been reported from Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Jiangsu, Hubei, Guangxi, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet, and Xinjiang. Intensive work by several teams is continuing and is expected to result in a significantly better understanding of China’s early immovable cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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Other

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12 pages, 282 KiB  
Technical Note
87Sr/86Sr Isotope Ratio as a Tool in Archaeological Investigation: Limits and Risks
by Mattia Rossi, Paola Iacumin and Gianpiero Venturelli
Quaternary 2024, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat7010006 - 11 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1142
Abstract
During the last forty years, the use of strontium isotopes in archaeology and biogeochemical research has spread widely. These isotopes, alone or in combination with others, can contribute to trace past and present environmental conditions. However, the interpretation of the isotopic values of [...] Read more.
During the last forty years, the use of strontium isotopes in archaeology and biogeochemical research has spread widely. These isotopes, alone or in combination with others, can contribute to trace past and present environmental conditions. However, the interpretation of the isotopic values of strontium is not always simple and requires good knowledge of geochemistry and geology. This short paper on the use of strontium isotopes is aimed at those who use this tool (archaeologists, but not only) but who do not have a thorough knowledge of mineralogy, geology, and geochemistry necessary for a good understanding of natural processes involving these isotopes. We report basic knowledge and suggestions for the correct use of these isotopes. The isotopic characteristics of bio-assimilable strontium depend not so much on the isotopic characteristics of the bulk rock as, rather, on those of its more soluble minerals. Before studying human, animal and plant remains, the state of conservation and any conditions of isotopic pollution should be carefully checked. Samples should be collected according to random sampling rules. The data should be treated by a statistical approach. To make comparisons between different areas, it should be borne in mind that the study of current soils can be misleading since the mineralogical modification of soil over time can be very rapid. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geoarchaeology and Cultural Heritage)
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