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Optically-stimulated luminescence profiling and dating of historic agricultural terraces in Catalonia (Spain)

, , , and . Journal of Archaeological Science (2017)

Abstract

Abstract Dating agricultural terraces is a notoriously difficult problem for archaeologists. The frequent occurrence of residual material in terrace soils and the potential for post-depositional disturbance mean that conventional artefactual and lab-based dating methods often provide unreliable dates. In this paper we present a new technique using luminescence field profiling coupled with OSL dating to produce complete (relative) sequences of dates for sedimentary stratigraphies associated with agricultural terraces and earthworks. The method is demonstrated through a series of case-studies in western Catalonia, Spain, in which we reconstruct the formation sequence of earthwork features from the Middle Ages through to the present day. OSL profiling at the time of archaeological survey and excavation permitted spatially and temporally resolved sediment ‘chronologies’ to be generated, and provides the means to interpret the environmental and cultural archives contained in each. The case-studies presented here show that luminescence approaches are a valuable tool to reconstruct landscape histories.

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