Anthropology 2229F/G Lecture Notes - Phytolith, Palynology, Trowel

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Published on 18 Jul 2012
School
Western University
Department
Anthropology
Course
Anthropology 2229F/G
Lecture 21 Part 1 Subsistence-Settlement Patterns: Floral Remains
Floral/Plant Remains
o Types of plant remains:
1. Plant Macrofossils
Visible to the naked eye
Cones, acorns, kernels, etc.
2. Pollen Microfossils
3. Phytolith Microfossils
“Plant stones”
o Major problems
Previously ignored
Difficult to recover from sites; need highly specialized refined
techniques
o Plant Macrofossils
Can’t find them using normal methods (e.g. screens)
Easily overlooked, still relatively small
Very delicate
Need to take bulk samples of the sediments to find the
macrofossils
Usually used floatation: pour bulk sediment into a
container with a screen and pour water through it or
agitate it in water to separate out tiny artifacts/items
from the others
Two kinds of macrofossils:
1. Heavy Fraction: heavier than water, end up sitting on
the screen
2. Light Fraction: wont sink to the bottom of the screen,
floats to the top of the container
Sorted out under a microscope once they are dried; very
time consuming
Steps in Analysis:
1. Identification
o Very difficult to determine genus/species
2. Quantification
o Extremely difficult to do
o No hard tissues like bone, preserve relatively
poorly
o Representation difficult; most can only be
preserved unless it is charred
o Mostly completely gone because people eat the
entire thing
3. Seasonality
o Various nuts available in late summer to fall,
sites with higher percentages are most likely
summer/fall occupation sites
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Document Summary

Lecture 21 part 1 subsistence-settlement patterns: floral remains. Floral/plant remains: types of plant remains: Difficult to recover from sites; need highly specialized refined techniques: plant macrofossils. Can"t find them using normal methods (e. g. screens) Need to take bulk samples of the sediments to find the macrofossils. Usually used floatation: pour bulk sediment into a container with a screen and pour water through it or agitate it in water to separate out tiny artifacts/items from the others. Heavy fraction: heavier than water, end up sitting on the screen. Light fraction: wont sink to the bottom of the screen, floats to the top of the container. Sorted out under a microscope once they are dried; very time consuming. Quantification: extremely difficult to do, no hard tissues like bone, preserve relatively poorly, representation difficult; most can only be preserved unless it is charred, mostly completely gone because people eat the entire thing.

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