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1'Landscape Archaeology: Egypt and the Mediterranean World' is the first international colloquium on geoarchaeology to be held in Egypt. Attended by 200 scientists from 25 different countries, it took place between the 19th and 21st September 2010. This major scientific event was organised jointly by the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale (IFAO, Cairo, Egypt), the Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement (CEREGE, UMR 6635, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France) and the Centre Franco-Égyptien d’Étude des Temples de Karnak (CFEETK, USR 3172, CNRS, Karnak, Egypt), with strong support from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA, Egypt) and the Centre Français de Culture et de Coopération du Caire (CFCC, Egypt). The meeting was held under the patronage of the Geographical Society of Egypt (Director: Safey Abulezz) and the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG). The colloquium hosted ten thematic sessions comprising 60 oral presentations, in English or in French, and approximately 40 poster presentations.

2A relatively recent approach in Egypt, geoarchaeology is an essential method for improving our understanding of landscape evolution in the human context. Therefore, it was important for the organisers (Matthieu Ghilardi and Yann Tristant) to invite all research scientists engaged in this work that would represent the Mediterranean and its arid peripheries in order to present different cases studies from its northern and southern margins. The main aim was to encourage and to develop a multidisciplinary approach to reconstruct both the historical occupation of archaeological sites and palaeoenvironmental changes in the studied areas. The natural parametres of landscape evolution (e.g., climate, tectonics, etc.) were studied together with the anthropogenic factors (e.g., deforestation, slope instability due to land-use changes). The classic approach largely adopted by Egyptologists, which aims to reconstruct the past landscape, is based exclusively on archives and archaeological remains. Over the three days of the colloquium, debates and different modern methods derived from geoarchaeology helped to define new perspectives in terms of multi-disciplinary research.

3This special issue is composed of seven articles relating to the research presented at the colloquium. Geographical regions discussed in this issue include three articles on Egypt, two dealing with Greece, one on Italy and another on Iran. In addition to this collection, a number of articles are currently in press as special issues of Quaternary International (Ed. Elsevier) and Bibliothèque d’Étude (BiÉtud; Ed. IFAO).

4The pioneering work undertaken by Matthieu Ghilardi (CEREGE, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France) and Yann Tristant (IFAO, Cairo, Egypt and Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia), deals with two archaeological sites in Upper Egypt, namely Karnak and Coptos. Their work helps to evaluate the lateral mobility of the Nile River during the dynastic period, providing a reconstruction of the landscape configuration at the time when the first temples were built. Based on the sedimentological study of deep drills, hand auger boreholes and several stratigraphic sections and with the help of radiocarbon dating, a chronostratigraphic sequence has been established for the whole area. The spatio-temporal mobility of the Nile River branches in an archaeological framework in the region of ancient Avaris is also analysed by Hervé Tronchère et al. (Laboratory Archéorient, Maison de l’Orient de la Méditerranée, Lyon, France). The combined use of sedimentological data and geomagnetic surveys helps to better evaluate the mobility of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile around this important fluvial harbour, former capital of the Hyksos Dynasty (ca. 1600 BC). Continuing with Egypt, Ashraf Mostafa (University of Assiut, Egypt) has drawn-up an interesting typology of caves observed along the Nile valley, in the vicinity of the modern city of Assiut, Middle Egypt. The karstic caves are encountered together with rock cut tombs dated to the Old Kingdom together with ancient quarries where locals used to extract blocks of sandstone and limestone. Concerning Greece, the article presented by Antoine Chabrol (University of Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne, France) and his team outlines an important study dealing with the rhythms of Holocene deltaic progradation of the Thyamis/Kalamas River (Epirus). New data from NW Greece (on the Albanian border) is presented outlining sedimentological analyses and geophysical surveys that have revealed the geometry of fluvio-deltaic deposits. The second paper dealing with research in Greece (Crete), presents a geoarchaeological study developed by Christoph Siart (University of Heidelberg, Germany) and Matthieu Ghilardi (CEREGE, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence) and focuses on a doline located close to the Hellenistic site of Lato (area of Aghios Nikolaos, Mirambello). Together, geophysical surveys (Electric Resistivity Tomography) and Terrestrial Laser Scanning measurements helped to estimate the total thickness of the sedimentary infilling of the Karst depression to reveal the existence of a hydraulic system, buried by thick red clay deposits. This work builds on earlier research of these authors that was published in a special issue (4/2009) of the journal Géomorphologie: relief, processus, environnement. Ferréol Salomon et al. (University of Lyon 2, France) elucidate the palaeoenvironmental evolution of Portus, located on the Tiber delta (Italy). The sedimentological analyses of several boreholes allows landscape configuration inside the ancient harbour basin during Roman times to be more precisely reconstructed. The major study of the fluvial dynamics is completed with a CM diagram. The last article presented for this special issue focuses on water management around the Sad-i-Didegan dam (Fars area) in Iran during the Achemenid Period (550-330 BC). Tijs de Schacht (University of Ghent, Belgium) and his collaborators discuss the hydroclimatic settings of the area and demonstrate that a more humid climate than present probably existed with an efficient water management system for irrigation purposes.

5The guest editors would like to thank all of the 21 reviewers of the articles for their help in improving the manuscripts. Laure Pantalacci (former director of IFAO), Béatrix Midant-Reynes (present director of IFAO) and Christophe Thiers (director of CFEETK) are warmly thanked for their constant logistical and financial support. Marie-Françoise Courel (former director of the CNRS department InSHS), Patrice Bourdelais (director of the CNRS InSHS), Claudio Galdérisi (CNRS) and Diane Brami (CNRS) are also acknowledged for their support and for developing the geoarchaeological approach in Egypt during the last few years. Finally, we would like to express our deep gratitude to Gilles Arnaud-Fassetta, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, who trusted us and who allowed us to propose and to publish this special issue dedicated to geoarchaeology.

Fig. 1 – Location map of the studied sites

Fig. 1 – Location map of the studied sites
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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Location map of the studied sites
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Référence papier

Matthieu Ghilardi et Yann Tristant, « Introduction to the special issue: ‘Charting Holocene landscape changes in the Mediterranean using the geoarchaeological approach’ », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement, vol. 18 - n° 1 | 2012, 3-6.

Référence électronique

Matthieu Ghilardi et Yann Tristant, « Introduction to the special issue: ‘Charting Holocene landscape changes in the Mediterranean using the geoarchaeological approach’ », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement [En ligne], vol. 18 - n° 1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2012, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL :

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Matthieu Ghilardi

UMR 6635 CEREGE, CNRS - Europôle Méditerranéen de l’Arbois - BP 80 - 13545 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 04 - France, and USR 3172 CFEETK - Karnak - Egypt (

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Yann Tristant

IFAO – Cairo Egypt/Macquarie University – Sydney – Australia (

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