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Anthropology 2229F/G Lecture Notes - Palynology, Frontier Closed Area

Course Code
ANTH 2229F/G
Christopher Ellis

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Lecture 21 Part 2 Subsistence-Settlement Patterns: Floral Remains
How to separate pollen
o Strong acids
E.g. hydrochloric acid
Gets rid of the sediment, leaving the pollen
o Can be found in harsh environment vs. other artifacts like bone
o Mounted on slides, can determine species
Count the number of species you find
Calculate relative percentages
Why use pollen analysis
o Not always from human activity, more for environmental
Exception: track down earliest evidence of maize
Need to know what is available to see what the people were
selecting for food
Limitations, etc.
E.g. if there are few edible resources, population density
was low, people would have to travel to have enough
food to make a living, etc.
Evidence consistent with the archaeological record
o Types of vegetation coverage (coniferous, boreal, deciduous, etc.)
o Can be used to date sites
Pollen assemblages can be used to cross date with the
archaeological record
What we need to be wary of…
o Just because the pollen represents a certain percentage, doesn’t mean
that is exactly the percentage of trees
Pollen frequency doesn’t equal tree/vegetation percentages
o Reasons:
Pollen from some plants preserve better than others
Biases for certain species
Pollen Production
How many grains does the plant produce?
Some produce a lot more than others
o E.g. Pine is a notorious overproducer
Aerodynamically different
Some pollen can travel long distances
Can appear even if it was not in the region
Can be overrepresented in the record
E.g. oak pollen
o Correcting for these biases can be difficult
Want to know…
o Open or Closed Area
Woodland, dense forest, open forest, parkland, tundra, etc.
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