Molluscs in Archaeology: Methods, Approaches and Applications [Paperback]

Michael J. Allen (Editor)

ISBN: 9781785706080 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Studying Scientific Archaeology | Volume: 3 | Year of Publication: 2017 | Language: English 448p,

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Molluscs in Archaeology


The subject of ‘Molluscs in Archaeology’ has not been dealt with collectively for several decades as most previous volumes in this subject area have been confined to studies of either land or marine molluscs, or mollusc shells as artefacts. The 23 specially commissioned papers presented here address many aspects of molluscs in archaeology. Marine molluscs are a common find on archaeological sites, where they may represent food waste or their shells having been utilised as tools, artefacts and ornaments. Land snails are also found as food waste in middens, but more commonly their microscopic remains are used to examine site environmental and land use histories. This comprehensive collection by most of the leading researchers in the field will give the reader an overview of the whole topic: methods of analysis and approaches to interpretation. It aims to be a broad-based textbook giving readers an insight into how to apply analysis to different present and past landscapes, and how to interpret those landscapes. Contributors present marine, freshwater and land snail studies, and examine topics such as diet, economy, climate, environment and land-use, isotopes and molluscs as artefacts, providing archaeologists and students with the first port of call regarding a) methods and principles, and b) the potential information molluscs can provide.

Combining authoritative overviews with a range of case studies, Molluscs in Archaeology concentrates on analysis and interpretation that most archaeologists and students can undertake and understand, and reviews the ‘heavier’ science in terms of potential, application and interpretational value.

Table of Contents

List of contributors
Molluscs in Archaeology; an introduction
Michael J. Allen and Bas Payne
Part 1: Palaeo-environments; environment and land-use
Terrestrial habitats, contexts and landscapes
 1.  Land snails in archaeology
 Michael J. Allen
2.  The geoarchaeology of context; sampling for land snails (on archaeological sites and colluvium)
Michael J. Allen
3.  Numerical approaches to land snail palaeoecology
Matt Law
 4.  Molluscs and the palaeo-environment of coastal blown sand and dunes
Thomas Walker
 5.  Molluscs from machair-dune systems: archaeological site formation processes and environmental change
 Matt Law and Nigel Thew
 6.  Caves and molluscs
 Chris O. Hunt and Evan A. Hill
Wetlands and Fresh- and Brackish-water
 7.  Molluscs from the floodplain alluvial sediments in the Thames Valley
Mark Robinson
 8.  Wetlands; freshwater and slum communities
Terry O’Connor
Palaeo-environmental reconstruction: Europe, the Mediterranean and Near East
9.  The southern English chalklands: molluscan evidence for the nature of the post-glacial woodland cover
Michael J. Allen
10.  (Some thoughts on) using molluscs for landscape reconstruction and ecology in Malta
 Michael J. Allen and Bri Eastabook
11.  Molluscan remains from Early to Middle Holocene sites in the Iron Gates reach of the Danube, Southeast Europe
Catriona Pickard, Adina Boroneanț and Clive Bonsall
12.  Land Mollusc middens
Victoria K. Taylor and Martin Bell
Marine and Food and Diet
13.  Marine molluscs from archaeological contexts; how they can inform interpretations of former economies and environments
 Liz Somerville, Janice Light and Michael J. Allen
14.  Oysters in archaeology
 Jessica Winder
15.  Shell middens
Karen Hardy
16.  The collection, processing and curation of archaeological marine shells
 Greg Campbell
17.  Shell ornaments, icons and other artefacts from the eastern Mediterranean and Levant
Janet Ridout-Sharpe
18.  Molluscan shells as raw materials for artefact production
 Katherine Szabó
19.  How strong is the evidence for purple dye extraction from the muricid gastropod Nucella lapillus (L. 1758), from archaeological sites in Britain and Ireland?
Janice Light and Thomas Walker
20.  Marine shells as artefacts?; a cautionary tale of natural wear and tear as compared to resourceful anthropogenic modification processes
 Janice Light
Science and Shells
21.  Bivalves and Radiocarbon
 Ricardo Fernandes and Alexander Dreves
22.  Radiocarbon dating of marine and terrestrial shell
 Katerina Douka
23.  Stable Isotope ecology of terrestrial gastropod shells
André Carlo Colonese

Reviews & Quotes

"Part of this book’s appeal is its extraordinary eclectic, but well-integrated mix of content… [its] success is a tribute to Mike Allen’s lifetime passion for this subject and his skill in recruiting such an excellent team of fellow contributors."
Martin J. Willing
British Wildlife (29/10/2018)

" excellent, up to date, practical and useful reference book… ably demonstrates that this sub-discipline of palaeo-environmental scientific application and research is very healthy with a wide range of specialists currently available."
Charles French
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (19/09/2017)

"Particular strengths of this volume are that it integrates studies of terrestrial and marine molluscs, each often pursued separately, and covers a wide range of themes ranging from palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomic topics to the use of molluscs as sources of information about technology, symbolism, dating and diet. "
Professor Geoff Bailey
York University (11/05/2017)

"…an interesting read for practitioners, and represents a significant contribution to the field. It is recommended for archaeological scientists, palaeoecologists, and conchologists alike."
Catherine Barnett
Current Archaeology (06/12/2017)

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