Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM




Typical for Soviet science theoretical underestimation and, in some periods, negation of role of nature in history of human society and culture in favor of primacy of social and economic factors had provoked paradoxical situation: archaeological geology (as well as geoarchaeology, environmental and landscape archaeology) had never been recognized and institutionalized as special scientific branch, nevertheless, its basic principles and methodology were successfully implemented de facto in the field work and in interpretational context.

3 basic stages of archaeological geology development in the Soviet Union are discussed here; each of them is characterized with peculiar field work methodology and theoretical paradigm:

- 1920-ies – intuitive non-segmented studies of archaeological sites (mostly prehistoric ones) excavated sometimes by geologists and paleontologists; nature and climate often were regarded as important factors of human history.

- 1950-1980-ies – extensive field work with broad participation of geologists and paleogeographers in archaeological excavations; selection of series of basic geological cross-sections for comparative studies; broad sampling and accumulation of data banks; large scale reconstructions of palaeolandscapes and paleoenvironments sometimes partly used by archaeologists for explanation of human subsistence strategy and mode of life.

- since late 1980-ies – rapid proliferation of geoarchaeolgoical approach to cultural layer studies; wavering between empirism and theorization; perfection of instrumental base open possibility to zoom out field studies, refine and precise previous results; provided by geologists small scale regional and on-site reconstructions of natural environment are fruitfully explored for interpretation of local human adaptation.

These milestones of empirical development of archaeological geology in Soviet science correlate well with the general tendencies of this scientific branch history in Western European and American science during XX century, displaying nevertheless substantial differences in understanding of archaeological geology significance for human history deeper understanding.