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Archaeometry – tracing the past human footprint with geosciences

Recent debates around the recognition (or otherwise) of an Anthropocene, and the impact of climate change on the human experience emphasize the fact that ‘we humans’ are an integral part of System Earth. Thus, research methods and approaches developed within the Earth Sciences are eminently suitable to study our interaction with it. At the same time, the inherent understanding of time, and the change that comes with it, further predestines methods of the Earth Sciences for the study of the human past – i.e. doing archaeology.

In this lecture, I will explore the two sides of the human – environment interaction, and discuss the role of Archaeometry / Archaeological Sciences bridging the two domains of earth sciences and anthropology, respectively. Traditionally, mining & metallurgy, and more recently also oil & gas extraction are commonly associated with a particularly heavy 'footprint' of humans on the environment. However, most of my examples will be drawn from the study of ancient glass and its production as one proxy to study human mobility, complementing a much wider array of tools and approaches to the many facets of this topic.


Thilo Rehren1
1The Cyprus Institute, Cyprus
GeoMinKöln 2022