Remnant Landscapes, Taphonomic Challenges and Middle Range Theory in Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology

Author(s): Jessica Cook Hale; Ervan Garrison

Year: 2018


Submerged prehistoric archaeological sites have increased relevance in archaeology because they retain direct evidence addressing multiple questions, such as human dispersal patterns, use of coastal zones, and human responses to climate change. They also have potential for high degrees of preservation in some cases. However, just as often, they present significant site formation challenges including geochemical and mechanical degradation of artifacts and features, weathering and deflation of sediments during and after submergence, and resulting loss of stratigraphic integrity - all a direct function of coastal and marine processes. These problems must be addressed more thoroughly in the field by accounting for these alterations with appropriate middle range or higher level theory for behavioral versus ecological processes. This is also an issue in grant proposal/peer reviews wherein our "terrestrial" colleagues’ comments and critiques demonstrate they also lack an understanding of alteration of submerged offshore sites. This paper reviews, briefly, the development of investigative strategies for submerged offshore sites that operationalized theory and method for the location and study of submerged sites. We then propose some revision and revamping of these strategies that can more effectively address the unique issues involved in the study of a submerged prehistoric world’s remnants.

Cite this Record

Remnant Landscapes, Taphonomic Challenges and Middle Range Theory in Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology. Jessica Cook Hale, Ervan Garrison. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444951)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20644