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Phytolith Processing Methods and the Affects upon Results

Author(s): Breanne Clifton ; Rosa Maria Albert ; Marta Portillo Ramirez

Year: 2015

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Summary

Biological microremains such as pollen, diatoms, starches, and phytoliths are invaluable data sources for reconstructing paleoenvironments and subsistence practices among human populations during times of technological transition. A primary goal of archaeological research is to use these remains to reconstruct the relationship between environment and technology. Phytoliths in particular allow us to reconstruct the specific flora that comprises the biome in a particular place and time. Currently, no standardized method of phytolith extraction exists. Researchers operating in a variety of geographical and chronological locales employ individual methods to achieve the same basic processes in sediment samples: the removal of clays, carbonates, and organics in order to isolate phytoliths for analysis. The effect that these differences in methodology may have upon the results when comparing samples has not yet been studied. The goal of this paper is to quantify the variance in results between three different processing methods. Thirty sediment samples from three diverse geographic regions and time periods were processed (Olduvai Gorge Plio-Pleistocene/Oldowan; Kapthurin Formation Pleistocene/MSA; northern Tunisia, Iron Age; Goytepe, Neolithic. Additional testing is necessary for an accurate understanding of these methodologies and their effects upon results in phytolith analysis.

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Phytolith Processing Methods and the Affects upon Results. Breanne Clifton, Marta Portillo Ramirez, Rosa Maria Albert. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395160)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America