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H 276 x W 203 mm

554 pages

154 figures, 71 tables (colour throughout)

Published Dec 2022

Archaeopress Access Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803273990

Digital: 9781803274003

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Geoarchaeology; Japanese Archaeology; Volcanoes; Tectonic; TephroArchaeology; Archaeological Volcanology; Volcanic Archaeology

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Tectonic Archaeology

Subduction Zone Geology in Japan and its Archaeological Implications

By Gina L. Barnes

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The effects of tectonic processes on archaeological sites are evidenced by earthquake damage, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami destruction, but these processes also affect a broader sphere of landform structures, environment, and climate. An overview of tectonic archaeology is followed by a detailed summary of geoarchaeological fieldwork in Japan.



Dedication to William R. Farrand ;
Preface ;
Chapter 1: Tectonic Archaeology vs Geoarchaeology ;

Part I: A Geological Introduction to the Japanese Islands ;
Chapter 2: A Primer in Plate Tectonics, with Specific Reference to Japan ;
Chapter 3: The Palaeogeographic Compilation of the Japanese Landmass ;
Chapter 4: Shaping the Japanese Archipelago ;
Chapter 5: Making Japan’s Mountains & Basins ;
Chapter 6: Japan’s Igneous Activity & Volcanic Arcs ;
Chapter 7: Tephra-derived Soils of Japan in comparative context ;
Reflections on Part I ;

Part II: The Tectonic Archaeologies of Japan ;
Chapter 8: TephroArchaeology ;
Chapter 9: Earthquake Archaeology ;
Chapter 10: Tsunami Archaeology ;
Chapter 11: The Inter-relatedness of Tectonics & Hazard Research ;
Chapter 12: True Jades, False Friends ;
Reflections on Part II ;

Part III: Nara Basin Studies ;
Chapter 13: Nara Basin Geology & Geomorphology ;
Chapter 14: Geoarchaeological Studies in Nara, Japan: the Integrated Findings ;
Chapter 15: Acid Soils and Acid Rocks: Misunderstood Implications for Bone Preservation in Japan ;
Reflections on Part III ;

Volume Conclusions ;

Appendices ;

Classified Index ;
Glossary of East Asian Words ;
Glossary & Index of Geological Terms

About the Author

Gina L. Barnes is Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies, Durham University; Project Affiliate, Earth Sciences, Durham University; and Professorial Research Associate in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS University of London. Her Research interests include archaeology and ancient history of East Asia with a special emphasis on Japan and Korea; state formation in Korea and Japan; ancient Korea-Japan relations; emergence of Yamato kingship; Japanese geology; and tectonic archaeology.


This volume is a most useful addition to a sparse literature. The retrospective is constructed to provide context for the geoarcheology of Japan extending from whole earth processes to site specifics, and in so doing enables comparison with the tectonic archaeology of other regions. Much of the summarized source material is otherwise difficult to find.’ – Eric Force, University of Arizona ;

The theme of tectonic archaeology is important and deserves a wide audience. Part I chapters are informed by a detailed and expert geological knowledge, with well-illustrated explanations of concepts, written in a style aimed at a non-expert readership and with an eye to their archaeological relevance. Part II chapters are illustrated with a wealth of examples drawn from the archaeology and history of Japan. Part III illustrates the application of these principles to the author’s field investigations in the Nara Basin, and it serves as a detailed case study to round off the overall theme of the volume.’ – Geoff Bailey, University of York