Managing Wetland Archaeology: Environmental Degradation at Wetland Archaeological Sites
Archaeological sites in wet environments present special challenges for management and preservation. Due to the consistently wet contexts, organic artefacts and archaeological remains typically are well preserved in such sites. These preservation conditions present opportunities to recover and explore aspects of ancient technology, subsistence, and other topics that cannot be investigated so directly using other archaeological sites. However, excavations of wetland sites also present major challenges in logistics and conservation of the site contexts and organic items and materials that are recovered. Although many archaeological sites are under pressure from a number of threats, wetland sites face additional risks from the changing environment. Wetlands are delicate ecosystems, relying on a constantly balanced environment to maintain equilibrium. As global temperatures increase and precipitation patterns change, wetland environments undergo changes. Anthropogenic infl uences, including the draining of wetlands for pastures, agriculture, or other uses, also affect the structure and function of wetlands and have negative impacts on archaeological material within the wetlands. Archaeological remains in these conditions may be impacted by natural and anthropogenic environmental change in wetlands.