Gravity and the formation of the archaeological record: Main concepts and methodological tools

Ivana L. Ozán
Año de la publicación: 
2 017
Geoarchaeology - An International Journal
This contribution aims to discuss how gravity-driven processes affect the archaeological record with the goal of building a broad conceptual and methodological framework for dealing with these contexts. A wide compilation of cases regarding gravity-driven processes is analyzed to recognize relevant environmental factors, the way they affect the properties of the record, and long-term archaeological expectations. Only by understanding the specific mechanisms and processes that occur in each context can an accurate methodological approach be chosen on which to base interpretations. A careful taphonomic study of the spatial distribution, frequency, size, diversity, and orientation of materials comprising the archaeological record is the first step to recognizing formation processes. Actualistic studies provide a framework for discussing the timing and intensity at which processes occur. A detailed geomorphological description is required to interpret sedimentological and micromorphological analysis, which in turn helps understanding of the relative subaerial permanence of the record, its temporal resolution, and preservation potential. Interpreting surface and buried materials requires the understanding of pedogenetic processes. Broad in/off-site spatial sampling strategies definitely yield a more realistic picture about the variety of processes in slope settings.