Organic Residues in Archaeological Context: A Historic Overview

Author(s): Joseph Schuldenrein

Year: 2017


Geoarchaeology is increasingly concerned with the analysis of perishable remains related to both the geological and archaeological components of a sediment matrix. Geological components range from measuring the age of 14 C to quantifying and classifying the organic content of an ancient soil, to identifying the source of organic materials in anaerobic (poorly drained) landscapes. More recently, organic matter studies have been applied to historic artifacts and the deposits in which they are found. Both physical and chemical processes account for the mobilization of organic matter and its disaggregation at an archaeological site. An understanding of these processes is pivotal to reconstructing the site formation history of an archaeological location. We review the origins of progressively more sophisticated analyses of "archaeological organics" through time. We identify the processes of organic disaggregation in a variety of environmental and cultural settings. Organic matter analyses can take a variety of forms from visual assessments, to geo-chemical testing and microscopic inspection and probing at high levels of resolution.

Cite this Record

Organic Residues in Archaeological Context: A Historic Overview. Joseph Schuldenrein. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431917)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16239