Book section Open Access

From soil surveys to archaeological sites and beyond: research strategies and original approaches for interpreting soils, anthropic activity, and environmental changes

Deák, Judit; Ampe, Carole; Mikkelsen Hinsch, Jari

Brief summary:

This paper is the introduction chapter of the book:
Soils as records of past and Present. From soil surveys to archaeological sites: research strategies for interpreting soil characteristics. Proceedings of the Geoarchaeological Meeting Bruges (Belgium), 6 & 7 November, 2019. Raakvlak, Bruges.

Judit Deák, Carole Ampe, and Jari Hinsch Mikkelsen (Eds.).

Publisher: Raakvlak, Archaeology, Monuments and Landscapes of Bruges and Hinterland, Belgium , www.raakvlak.be

ISBN 978 90 76297 811

The importance of soil science in various research fields has increased tremendously over the past decades. Soils are among the most fundamental elements that support life on Earth. They provide numerous ecosystem services and document past environments and cultural heritage. Many renowned scholars contributed to this understanding; amongst them Roger Langohr. For more than 50 years he has been an international authority within various fields of soil science research and as such he contributed substantially to the improvement of interdisciplinary research strategies. His holistic approach on understanding the book of nature through field observations of soils has inspired researchers from far beyond the borders of Belgium. Those who had the privilege to follow his lectures or collaborate with him have learned that to understand soils, one has to start in the field by observing the soil characteristics, by drawing them, and by recording their vertical and horizontal variability. Additionally, profiles should (always) be made very deep and wide (deeper and wider than they are often dug) to overcome local variability.  One also needs to face the complexity and be aware of the fact that the absence of features is as important as their presence. We were also taught that soils have to be studied on various scales, from a macro to a micro scale , passing through mesoscale. Each soil profile can be considered as a page in the book of the history of the larger soilscape. Thus, in order to understand the whole story, one needs to read all the pages and chapters.

With this book, we would like to pay honour to all the scientific contribution of Roger Langohr, who manages to fascinate, motivate and promote scientists that are active in various research fields and come from all parts of the world.

In the past few decades, soil science has contributed greatly to discussions on climatic and environmental changes, as well as to the understanding of various topics of human impact on landscapes and the environment. This book aims to address these complex issues and demonstrate how they are approached and unravelled through past and current interdisciplinary research. The twenty-one papers composing this book address a broad range of subjects and cover a wide geographical scope: soils and related questions from Belgium, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Spain, and Switzerland are presented. These contributions testify that an interdisciplinary approach, since long advocated by Roger Langohr, works well and proves it to be a successful tactic.

This book is the result of a participative international project that took place between December 2018 and November 2019. Organising and meeting and publishing a book for the day of the meeting in less than one year was only possible thanks to the strong motivation and dedication of not only the organisers, but also of all the contributors and reviewers. Despite the considerable extra working load, the authors and co-authors of the papers in this book managed to write and submit their contributions in record time. They were also asked to assume not only the scientific and copyrights responsibility of their work, but also the verification of content and formatting of bibliographic data included. The 14 scientific reviewers played a crucial role in the accomplishment of this publication. Their constructive remarks and suggestions contributed generously to the scientific quality of the papers, while their rapid feedback and interactions were decisive in meeting the deadline and having all the papers in the book.

This book is not only a printed document. It is also a collection of a freely available (open access) documents. All of them have an individual digital object identifier (doi, indicated on each paper) and  are hosted by the non-commercial depository archive (Zenodo). Moreover, the authors keep the copyright of their contribution. The online contributions are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike, 4.0 License (CC-BY-SA).

This article is part of a book edited at the occasion of the Geoarchaeological meeting of Bruges: Soils as records of Past and Present: the geoarchaeological approach. Focus on: is there time for fieldwork today? - Bruges (Belgium), 6 and 7.11.2019. Editors Judit Deák, Carole Ampe and Jari Hinsch Mikkelsen Technical editor Mariebelle Deceuninck English language reviewer Caroline Landsheere Graphic design Frederick Moyaert Printing and binding Die Keure, Bruges
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