Geoarchaeology is one of the central STEM-related domains in most of the field research inarchaeology and also in other environmental studies aiming at understanding the natural and man made development of major geological and environmental features and characteristics of landscapes, including the places and areas containing buried archaeology and other evidence of the past human activities. Bearing in mind that topography, morphology, petrology, sediments, animals, plants etc. and plants are changing through time it is crucial, for understanding the heritage and its values, to know its original natural context and environment of deposition. In addition to this, geoarchaeological information is also crucial for making decisions about ‘in situ’ preservation of archaeological heritage, whether the actual natural setting allows stable physical and chemical context for the preservation of sites and their objects.
The host of the course will be the University of Zagreb, but the course will take place in the area of Đakovo in eastern Croatia. This area has been chosen for its great potential for teaching in the archaeological-rich landscape. The course will include theoretical teaching on principal aspects of geoarchaeology. This part of the course will be directed by the experts from the Geoarchaeology laboratory of the University of Cambridge, which have extensive knowledge and experiences in geoarchaeology on the global scale. Their teaching program will include introductory lectures in geoarchaeology, presentations of case studies of geoarchaeological investigation in the field and in the laboratory, presentations of work and methods of thin-section slices, sampling techniques, and associations with the archaeological investigation. They will be complemented with experts from the Universities of Zagreb and Arhej d.o.o.
The main focus will be on practical training in geoarchaeological work which will be organized in the test area (near Đakovo) which is about 10 km2 large, and densely settled by archaeological sites, mostly from prehistory. The area is also very dynamic in terms of hydrological changes. Here, the students will have the opportunity to take part in all major steps in geoarchaeological fieldwork, including the hand- and machine-boring for taking the samples.
Students will in situ learn about appropriate sampling strategies, logistic aspects of boring, necessary equipment and consumables required for boring, and the major ways of interpretation of samples in the field and after the laboratory analyses. In the end, they will also learn about keeping and storing the samples (cores, and other soil samples).
The test area, intentionally chosen for its richness of archaeological evidence, will enable a demonstration of how geoarchaeological and archaeological data combined, lead to more comprehensive interpretation and understanding of buried archaeology.
In practical part of the course, the University of Cambridge will be assisted with the staff and machine-boring equipment of Arhej d.o.o. machine boring.