Locating where archaeological sites occur in intertidal sequences: The use of archaeoentomological data as a proxy for tidal regime

Publication date: June 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 82
Author(s): David Smith
Intertidal archaeological deposits occur worldwide, particularly in the temperate latitudes. These deposits can contain archaeological sites that were constructed at the time these were terrestrial landscapes, but subsequently were inundated as a result of rising sea levels. Part of this process can include the development of salt marshes. There is a need, therefore, to identify where archaeological sites lie within the cline of past tidal regimes. This paper presents the results of a survey of UK archaeoentomological data recovered from intertidal deposits which was undertaken in order to identify patterns in archaeoentomological data that might indicate a deposit’s position within a saltmarsh. Such an approach has potential to establish ‘indicator groups’ for saltmarsh zones, thereby facilitating archaeological interpretation of intertidal deposits. A statistical ordination of the archaeoentomological dataset has been undertaken to explore the security and strength of proposed archaeoentomological indicator groups for various ecological zones within saltmarsh/intertidal environments and the results are presented here. These indicator groups also are crossed-checked against the known modern ecology of the various beetles included within each grouping, to determine if they make good ‘ecological sense’. The dataset discussed here is specific to Northern Europe, but the approach is applicable worldwide.