Formation processes in archaeological sites

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The goal of this course is to provide students with the basic knowledge to describe and characterize the archaeological deposits at the microscope.
Expected learning outcomes
Capability to describe archaeological deposits thin sections at the microscope and to provide their interpretation.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The lessons will be delivered using the Microsoft Teams platform, synchronous with recording.
The exam will be held remotely in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform.
The microscope will be used through a video camera connected to the teacher's computer.
Course syllabus
Micromorphology of thin sections: history, undisturbed samples, sampling and preparation, the polarizing microscope.
The thin sections description of soils and archaeological deposits: descriptive criteria and basic concepts (fabric, microstructure, mineral and organic constituents, groundmass, C / F ratio, pedofeatures).
The micromorphology for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction: the frost features, the coarse illuviation, the onset of dry conditions, the formation of calcareous crusts, the relict features.
The micromorphology as geoarchaeological tool: features related to land use and to activities in settlement sites (pastoralism, hearths, floors, urban areas).
Study cases.
Prerequisites for admission
To follow this course profitably, knowledge of the basic concepts of Earth sciences is recommended.
Teaching methods
Lectures - traditional dispensing.
Individual use of the microscope is envisaged.
Teaching Resources
- Cremaschi M. (2000). Manuale di Geoarcheologia. Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari.
- Bullock P., Fedoroff N., Jongerius A., Stoops G. & Tursina T. (1985). Handbook for Soil Thin Section Description. Waine Research Publications, Wolverhampton.
- Courty, M.A, Goldberg, P. & Macphail, R. (1989). Soils and micromorphology in archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Stoops G. (2003). Guidelines for analysis and description of soil and regolith thin sections. Soil Science Society of America, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
- Stoops G., Marcelino V. & Mees F. (2018). Interpretation of Micromorphological Features of Soils and Regoliths. Elsevier, Oxford.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of the observation under the microscope of one thin section of archaeological deposit, and an oral discussion with questions relating to the observations conducted, at the end of which a mark expressed out of thirty will be recorded. Honors will be given when the level of preparation is more than excellent. The final evaluation will consider the acquired knowledge (60%) and the ability to organize and illustrate the arguments (30%) and the expository skills (10%).
Lessons: 48 hours
On appointment
Mangiagalli 34, 2nd floor, room 77
Mon-Fri, 9-11.
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra "Ardito Desio", Via L. Mangiagalli 34, 20133 Milano