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The Australian National University

Understanding the biography of an archaeological site generally requires an understanding of its sedimentary history. In this audiovisual presentation, museum archaeologist Mike Smith talks about the importance of understanding site stratigraphy as one of the basic skills of any good field archaeologist.

Sophisticated instruments are not crucial to this. You don’t need portable XRF, magnetic susceptibility geophysical techniques such as GPR, or high-end laboratory analyses. Any good field archaeologist can make a competent assessment of a site’s stratigraphy. Much can be done with a basic field assessment – provided the right questions are asked.

The aim of this lecture is to get you thinking stratigraphically – beginning with sediments, then moving on to look at layers, interfaces and features, and finishing with the processes that overprint or reorganise the original stratigraphy of a site.

Interviewed by ‘Deepening Histories of Place’ project researcher Rob Paton, Dr Mike Smith is a desert archaeologist and a Senior Fellow at the Research Centre, National Museum of Australia. He has worked extensively across the Australian arid zone to piece together a picture of the human and environmental history of this region. His research focuses on the prehistory, cultural history and human ecology of Australia’s deserts, the history of ideas about Australian drylands, the timing, nature and impact of early human colonisation of the Australian continent, and the presentation of environmental history in museums.

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Filed under: Lecture,Mike Smith,Rob Paton
by: Editor

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