Thu, 10.12.2020 9:00

Making the Most of Soils in Archaeology

Workshop within the framework of the platform ‘Natural Sciences and Archaeology’

Archaeological sediments serve as an archive of human activity and environmental conditions through their physical and chemical properties as well as captured biological traces. Archaeologists have wanted to extract information from soils at archaeological excavations for decades, but sufficient technological developments and diversification of approaches have appeared only recently. This workshop brings together a range of specialists to introduce cutting-edge approaches to analyzing soils and sediments. The papers address soil formation and erosion processes at archaeological sites, analytical approaches through micro-morphology, geochemistry, micro-archaeology and multi-proxy analysis, as well as the analysis of lipid bio-markers, proteins and ancient DNA in soil.

This workshop will explore how innovative methods can be used in conjunction to complement each other, and how knowledge of their range of applications can encourage archaeologists to ask new questions and generate different hypotheses in an interdisciplinary research framework.

The aim of the workshop is to develop best practice recommendations for soil sampling strategies at today’s excavations to safeguard its information value about past human life for future generations.



All times Central European

9:00–9:15Welcome (Barbara Horejs, Julia Budka)
9:15–9:30Introduction (Kerstin Kowarik, Katharina Rebay-Salisbury, Roderick B. Salisbury)
9:30–10:00Erich Draganits: Sedimentation, erosion and water management: Geoarchaeology in the context of the ancient salt mine of Chehrābād (Iran)
10:00–10:30Susanna Cereda: Keep it clean: a microstratigraphic approach to the study of built space, maintenance practices and concepts of cleanliness
10:30–11:00Coffee break
11:00–11:30Roderick B. Salisbury: Archaeological soil chemistry for spatial organization and activity area analyses
11:30–12:00Steffen Schneider: Soils in archaeological landscape reconstruction: Challenge – Geoarchive – Archaeological site
12:00–13:00Lunch break
13:00–13:30Ian Bull: Digging the dirt on soil biomarkers
13:30–14:00Elena I. Zavala et al.: Preservation of Ancient DNA in Pleistocene sediments
15:00–15:30Coffee break
14:30–15:00Katharina Dulias: Digging Deep – How Ancient DNA and Palaeoproteomics Can Change the Game
15:00–15:30   Discussion & Conclusion



Thursday, 10.12.2020, 9:00–18:00

Virtual Workshop

organized by
Kerstin Kowarik (Natural History Museum, Vienna),
Katharina Rebay-Salisbury (Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna),
Roderick B. Salisbury (Department of Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology, University of Vienna)

Closed workshop – please register by e-mailing Katharina.Rebay-Salisbury(at)

Programme & Abstracts