Geological form and process fundamentally underpin archaeology, but many archaeologists only have a patchy understanding of it – or even a fear of the sedimentary unknown. John Allen’s book is therefore hugely welcome, and it fills a long-neglected gap.
The author leads us into the subject gently, but provides sufficient depth to enable his readers to understand and gain an excellent working knowledge of what rocks and minerals are, why they are such an important resource to humans, and how they affect the formation of archaeological sites. Chapters on how to use a geological map and on geology and landscape are essential reading, and there are clearly defined examples to support sections on rivers, water management, and coasts. The book then moves onto rich chapters on stones for building, for use as tools, mining, and the processes and form of making pottery and bricks.
All-in-all, it is a wonderful tome. All Current Archaeology readers, be they practitioners, specialists, or those with a keen interest in the natural world and archaeology, need this book in their lives.
This review appeared in CA 336.