Pollen Record Formation Processes in Temperate Zone Archaeological Sites

Author(s): Gerald Kelso

Year: 2015


The pollen spectra of archaeological sites in the temperate zone are subject to post-deposition modifications in the form of earthworms mixing the pollen in the humus zone.They are subsequently percolated downward in rainwater, at rates that vary with the location and nature of the matrix, and are physically degraded by aerobic fungi, by groundwater oxygen, and by repeated hydration and dehydration.These processes produce a profile with the highest pollen concentrations at the top and quantities of pollen grains that are too degraded to be identified that increase with depth. Eventually a depth is reached at which no identifiable pollen remains.Pollen contemporaneous with cultural activity in both prehistoric and historical-era archaeological sites has, however, been recovered in archaeological matrices from under flat rocks and artifacts, from under and inside structures, from under slopewash, from under both large and small earthworks, from in and under fills in ditches, from under mollusk shells positioned concave side down, and from the copper and iron oxides around buried artifacts.Soil compaction in urban sites also preserves historical-era pollen spectra in situ.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Pollen Record Formation Processes in Temperate Zone Archaeological Sites. Gerald Kelso. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396461)



Geographic Keywords
North America - Northeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;