ISSN 2227-2380 (Print)

List of issues > «Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series». 2018. Vol. 25

“Elephants” and “Turtles” of Geoarchaeology

A. N. Sorokin

The paradigm shift in archaeological research in the primitive archaeology of Russia at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries was marked by a transition from the stage of mass accumulation of primary data to their analytical and theoretical interpretation. Another inevitable consequence of the socioeconomic and scientific crisis was the appeal to the methods of geoarchaeology, thanks to which it was possible to reach a qualitatively new level of extracting information from very specific Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene sources. A significant contribution to the development of the principles of geoarcheology in Russia was made by representatives of the Irkutsk Archaeological School, which was headed by G. I. Medvedev (1936–2015) for a long time. The binary term “geoarchaeology” includes two roots: “geo” or the science of the Earth, more precisely its division – quaternary geology, corresponding to the anthropogenic stage of development, and “archaeology” or the science of antiquities – the results of human activity. These are, in the words of medieval philosophers, two “turtles” on which geoarchaeology floats in the ocean of knowledge. And four “elephants” resting on these “turtles” – these are geomorphology, paleogeography, soil science and taphonomy. Without this sextet, it was and is archaeology + natural science methods. Geoarchaeology is a special discipline that generates the results of natural science research methods, samples for which are obtained through archaeological excavations. The subject of geoarchaeology is a prehistoric man, traces of his activity and position in the system of developing nature, which the researcher comprehends through archaeological excavations and destruction of an objectively existing natural-anthropogenic object. And all subsequent prospecting work is performed with the data obtained during this irreversible procedure. Essentially, geoarchaeology is a modern, effective tool for understanding the history of the development of paleosocieties and their habitats.

About the Authors

Sorokin Aleksei Nikolaevich, Doctor of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher, Institute of Archaeology of RAS; 19, Dm. Ulyanov st., Moscow, 117036, Russia, e-mail: ansorokin52@gmail.com

For citation

Sorokin A. N. “Elephants” and “Turtles” of Geoarcheology. Bulletin of the Irkutsk State University. Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series. 2018, Vol. 25, pp. 3–18. https://doi.org/10.26516/2227-2380.2018.25.3 (in Russ.)

Archaeology, Quaternary Geology, Primitive Archaeology, Geomorphology, Paleogeography, soil science, Taphonomy, natural science methods

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