Geoscience of ancient Mediterranean harbours

Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although much has been written on the subject of ancient Mediterranean harbours, the relatively new area of harbour geoarchaeology remains dispersed in the geoscience and archaeological literature. Over a decade of research has amassed rich and varied datasets of anthropogenically forced coastal evolution, with a remarkable number of between-site analogies. This new research field also shows the rich potential of geoscience to reconcile important archaeological questions. No single publication, however, has yet drawn on these geological patterns to yield a detailed overview suitable for geoscientists and environmental archaeologists. The aim of this review article is to (1) discuss how ancient harbours have come to be preserved in the geological record; (2) expound the basic principles and palaeoenvironmental tools underpinning ancient harbour geoarchaeology; (3) outline some of the most significant research advances made; and (4) discuss a new chrono-stratigraphic model applicable to harbour sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-194
Number of pages58
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Leverhulme Trust (London), the Institut Universitaire de France (Paris) and the Ecole française de Rome (Rome) for financial support. We also thank G. Clauzon, P. Leveau, E. Marcus, A. Miall and two anonymous referees for kindly reviewing earlier versions of this paper. We are grateful to J.-P. Goiran for providing the SEM images of tsunami quartz grains from Alexandria.


  • Holocene
  • Mediterranean
  • ancient harbour
  • coastal stratigraphy
  • geoarchaeology
  • geochemistry
  • geomorphology
  • malacology
  • micropalaeontology
  • sedimentology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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