Geoarchaeological studies

My name is Ferréol. I am a geographer specialist in fluvial and coastal geomorphology, especially in deltaic context. I use geomorphological knowledges in order to understand palaeolandscapes and archaeological sites in their natural environment. I participated to the geoarchaeological studies of the harbour of Avaris in Egypt (Tronchère et al. 2008; 2011), and the roman harbour basins of Portus and Ostia in Italy (Goiran et al. 2010; 2014). I finished my PhD thesis in 2013 in the University of Lyon (France). The manuscript is entitled “Geoarchaeology of the Tiber delta: Holocene geomorphological dynamics and hydrosedimentary pressures on the Portus-Ostia system” (In french) (Salomon 2013). I studied the harbours basins of Portus and Ostia related to the coastal system and fluvial hydrosystem using sedimentary cores. The Tiber delta and the Tiber river watershed were considered both as relevant geomorphological units to analyse the palaeoenvironmental context and sedimentary dynamics around Ostia and Portus. More precisely, I was focusing on coastline and fluvial mobility of the Tiber river channel and on the navigable roman canals of the Tiber delta (Salomon 2013; Salomon et al. 2012, 2014a; 2014b).

Since 2008, I am part of the “Portus Project” directed by the Prof Simon Keay. In this project, I learnt a lot in interdisciplinary approaches of harbour systems crossing sedimentary and palaeoenvironmental indicators with archaeological remains and geophysical data. I continued to work on Portus harbour and its canal in Post-Doc at the University of Southampton in the end of 2013-beginning of 2014 .

I’m now a Post-doctoral researcher part of the “PortusLimen Project” still at the University of Southampton and a member of the “Geoarchaeological team”. Two main aims are related to the geoarchaeological work on the roman harbour of the project: (1) the geomorphological context of the harbour and (2) the infilling of the harbour basins.

The understanding of the geomorphological context of the harbour includes research on the coastline and the river channel mobility through time. Reconstruction of the Roman coastline and river channel location close to the harbours studied in the project. Vertical mobility is also taking into account: the absolute sea level variations and the local vertical ground variations (subsidence and uplift).

The methodology used for analysing harbour sedimentation is based on technics and concepts developed first by French geoarcheologists since the 1990’s (see Marriner, Morhange, and Goiran 2010). It involves interdisplinary research (sedimentologists, biologists, physicians, chemists and archaeologists) for the analysis of core sequences drilled in harbour basins. These analysis allows us to reconstruct initial characteristic of the harbour basins (configuration palaeobathymetry), their periods of use and abandonments.

Figure 1 – Core drilling (PTXI-7) into archaeological excavation at Portus
Figure 1 – Core drilling (PTXI-7) into archaeological excavation at Portus
Figure 2 – Computed Tomography (CT) scans of sediment cores extracted from the Tiber delta
Figure 2 – Computed Tomography (CT) scans of sediment cores extracted from the Tiber delta



  • Goiran, J.-P., F. Salomon, I. Mazzini, J.-P. Bravard, E. Pleuger, C. Vittori, G. Boetto, et al. 2014. “Geoarchaeology Confirms Location of the Ancient Harbour Basin of Ostia (Italy).” Journal of Archaeological Science 41: 389–98. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.08.019.
  • Goiran, J.-P., H. Tronchère, F. Salomon, P. Carbonel, H. Djerbi, and C. Ognard. 2010. “Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction of the Ancient Harbors of Rome: Claudius and Trajan’s Marine Harbors on the Tiber Delta.” Quaternary International 216 (1-2): 3–13.
  • Marriner, N., C. Morhange, and J.-P. Goiran. 2010. “Coastal and Ancient Harbour Geoarchaeology.” Geology Today 26 (1): 21–27.
  • Salomon, F. 2013. “Géoarchéologie Du Delta Du Tibre : Evolution Géomorphologique Holocène et Contraintes Hydrosédimentaires Dans Le Système Ostie – Portus.” Thèse de doctorat en Géographie Physique / Géoarchéologie, Université Lyon 2.
  • Salomon, F., H. Delile, J.-P. Goiran, J.-P. Bravard, and S. Keay. 2012. “The Canale Di Comunicazione Traverso in Portus: The Roman Sea Harbour under River Influence (Tiber Delta, Italy).” Géomorphologie : Relief, Processus, Environnement, no. 1/2012: 75–90. doi:10.4000/geomorphologie.9754.
  • Salomon, Ferréol, Jean-Philippe Goiran, Jean-Paul Bravard, Pascal Arnaud, Hatem Djerbi, Stephen Kay, and Simon Keay. 2014. “A Harbour–canal at Portus: A Geoarchaeological Approach to the Canale Romano: Tiber Delta, Italy.” Water History 6 (1): 31–49. doi:10.1007/s12685-014-0099-1.
  • Salomon, F., J.-P. Goiran, E. Pleuger, I. Mazzini, A. Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, A. Ghelli, G. Boetto, and P. Germoni. 2014. “Ostie et l’embouchure du Tibre.” Chronique des activités archéologiques de l’École française de Rome. doi:10.4000/cefr.1062.
  • Tronchère, H., F. Salomon, Y. Callot, J.-P. Goiran, L. Schmitt, I. Forstner-Muller, and M. Bietak. 2008. “Geoarchaeology of Avaris, First Results.” Egypt and the Levant, Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 18.
  • Tronchère, H., F. Salomon, J.-P. Goiran, Y. Callot, and L. Schmitt. 2011. “Avaris et La Branche Pélusiaque Du Nil.” In M.J. Penven, H. Regnauld, D. Mercier (dir.), « Mobilité Des Formes et Surfaces Terrestres : Des Changements Passés Aux Changements Actuels». Rennes: Presse Universitaire de Rennes.

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