We welcome Dr Ria Mitchell from the University of Sheffield to present ‘Palaeosols (fossil soils) as records of environmental, climatic and evolutionary change through geologic time’ and Lynne Gardiner from Wardell Armstrong LLP to present ‘What lies beneath?: Putting the senses back into the past’.
Fossilised soils, or palaeosols, are preserved in the geologic rock record for the past ~3 billion years. Therefore, they provide insight into ancient environmental, climatic, and evolutionary changes over this time and have become a well documented proxy in the literature. They provide a unique perspective of these Earth-wide processes because they form at the interface between the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, often preserving specific geochemical signatures of conditions at their time of formation. Dr Ria Mitchell’s talk is in two parts: the first detailing the geological record of palaeosols, and the second highlighting some specific time periods in the evolutionary history of life on land and how it is linked with soil/palaeosol evolution.
Environmental archaeology is an umbrella term for a suite of specialisms within archaeology. In her presentation, Lynne Gardiner provides an overview of the most common ones utilised within commercial archaeology. This overview will be the precursor to a more in-depth look at what materials may be present in the soils and sediments. By using examples of some of her projects, Lynne shows how this ecofactual material enables us to examine the palaeoecology of our landscapes.