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Why does (archaeological) micromorphology
have such little traction in (geo)archaeology?

Article in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences · June 2016
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-016-0353-9

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3 Department of Archaeology. However. Introduction gy as referred to throughout this paper—has seen an astound- ing increase in its use to answer archaeological questions and Micromorphology (the study of soils.2. MA 02215. Germany and soil properties. After then. description. Faro. In consider that this tool is still quite underutilized and not as the field of pedology (read. 1987. Archaeological sediments . Interestingly. Wollongong. CATENA. (Kubiëna 1938) and even until the late 1960s and 1970s. its use micromorphology data) can go about to change it. at integrating them with the macroscopic archaeological data lustrative of an intricate interplay between geogenic and an. as well as those dealing with geology and quaternary studies— 1 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. 2 Center for Archaeological Sciences. The technique of soil micromorphology—or archaeological micromorpholo.edu Science—now European Journal of Soil Science).5 Received: 2 November 2015 / Accepted: 7 June 2016 # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016 Abstract Archaeological deposits are often complex and il. Moreover. Quaternary International. * Paul Goldberg Geoderma. Douglas 1990. formation .. thropogenic inputs and formation processes. NSW 2502. Portugal tially dates to the 1950s with Cornwall’s prescient Soils for the . Soil Micromorphology). adopted by Kubiëna to study soils more than 70 years ago flect on what can be some of the causes underlying this situ. we briefly re. Eberhard Karls University Quaternary Science Reviews. both producers and consumers of was slow to catch on in that discipline. The main flourished and numerous conferences were held (e.g. Tübingen. sediments. of Soil paulberg@bu. and relationship to landscapes Evolutionary Anthropology. In this paper. many in soil journals (e. Fedoroff et al. 5 Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human The application of micromorphology to archaeology essen- Behavior (ICArEHB). Universidade do Algarve. see able way to present micromorphological results and be better Macphail 2013b). Soils they nonetheless typically underutilize the observations and data available at the microstratigraphic level. most of these early studies concentrated on 4 Department of Human Evolution. and archae- archaeological sediments in the last decades. Leipzig. Even for those archaeologists—particularly prehistorians—who consider the Keywords Micromorphology . Journal Quaternary Science.Archaeol Anthropol Sci DOI 10.3 & Vera Aldeias 4. Site basic principles of natural stratigraphy to excavate their sites. Australia pour l’Etude du Quaternaire). we ological features and materials in thin section) is not new.. Max Planck Institute for soils. Geoarchaeology . Delgado 1978. International Working Group of Soil Micromorphology. Germany Geoarchaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science. University of Quaternaire (AFEQ—Bulletin de l’Association Française Wollongong. Ringrose-Voase and Humphreys 1994. Boston. Boston University. D-72070 Tübingen. Deutscher Platz 6. it ation and how we (that is.1007/s12520-016-0353-9 ORIGINAL PAPER Why does (archaeological) micromorphology have such little traction in (geo)archaeology? Paul Goldberg 1.g. their genesis. and research questions. Rutherford 1974) and journal articles. it was mainstream as other techniques. idea is that we need to establish a better and more approach. resulting in a substantial rise of publications in conference proceedings (Bullock and Murphy 1983. and Science du Sol/Pédologie/J. much of the research is concentrated in the Old USA World.

here. geoarchaeologically related micromorphological studies has and micro-context of all components (minerals. features related to large and taking place with the biannual Developing International small-scale human activities (e. Goldberg 1980. it is possible to observe. Goldberg and Macphail (2006). Ringrose-Voase and Humphreys 1994. Shahack-Gross et al. Likewise. locate. recently tions of the deposits. studies two decades. Shahack-Gross et al. ce- mushroomed considerably. Moreover. or coating of grains as in a mudflow—from post- International Working Meetings on Soil Micromorphology. comparatively. Karkanas and Goldberg 2008. Yet. Goldberg 1979b. the scope of micro- of ceramics.developinginternationalgeoarchaeology. Macphail 1983). metals. Thus. Goldberg and Berna 2010. Goldberg dissertations. archaeological issues form pects of the sediment—grain size/shape/composition. 1990). 1987. html). not go into details about specific results and applications. see also Macphail (2013a). lected in the field (Courty et al. (1990)). Friesem et al. These stud- ies had a broad target and temporal scope: from Pleistocene As briefly mentioned above. and depositional ones associated with diagenesis. and botanic remains). Courty et al. international workshops on archaeological soil micromorpholo. 2003. trampling. The underlying depositional decay. et al. researchers doing the and Macphail 2006. Nowadays.g. This shift of emphasis is elaborated below. 2012. 2014). 1989. Angelucci et al. we still think that micromorphology is way The list of applications of the technique in underutilized as a tool in archaeology. The same par.org/first. It Murphy 1986. In addition. has grown over the last pared to any of the other aspects of archaeology (e. micro-FTIR. Goldberg 1980. and site reports. derutilization of micromorphology in archaeology and furnish 2014. Karkanas and Van de Moortel 2014. and why has it been so slow to catch on given the practice of observation with the petrographic microscope to 35 years that it has appeared in the realm of geoarchaeology? its combined use with other Bin situ^ analytical techniques at This question becomes even stronger when one goes to a large the microcontextual level. 1). Canti 2003. (Goldberg 2008). we would like to 2014. Thus. lithics. Courty geoarchaeology) has been carried out on them. including Fourier transform infra- archaeology meeting and sees the number of sites that are red spectrometry (FTIR). Some micromorphology basics Goldberg 1980. while not endless. The reader is directed to the whether it was heated (or not) and to what range of . these issues and their possible cause(s) Goldberg 1995. 1989) (Fig. and XRF. 2004. as well as the overall lack of incorporating 1999. published by Dalrymple (1958) who employed the technique Fedoroff et al. and construction) are also dis- (http://www. 2005. Canti 1998.) are conserved within the sample (Courty et al. SEM/EDAX. to distinguish natural soils from anthropogenic deposits. 2004. Archaeol Anthropol Sci Archaeologist (Cornwall (1958). and its strategies. and magnetic susceptibility (Babel 1975. despite this really enthusiastic growth of the discipline Miller et al. Shahack-Gross et al. etc.. for example. short courses. Wattez et al.g. Courty et al. micromorphology within an archaeological or geoarchaeological context (Courty and Fedoroff 1982. Macphail and tion. Courty and Roux 1995. Goldberg and geoarchaeologists participating in archaeological projects Macphail 2006. Goldberg 1979a. Macphail and geoarchaeological issues into an entire project from its incep. 1990. some approaches on how to improve this situation. as of this writing. sweeping. Berna et al. strategy of micromorphology is that it uses intact samples of Since that time—~35 years ago—the number of these materials and thus. ogy principles and its approach. (2010). 2014. Mentzer and Quade 2012. Karkanas et al. and analyze an individual grain within a thin section though we do provide below some basics on micromorphol. bones. Macphail et al. micromorphology on projects commonly represent integral parts it is possible to distinguish between original depositional as- of the research teams. Berna et al. (geo)archaeology. as for example. how little micromorphology (let alone 2007. We will with this multi-analytical strategy. Friesem et al. bed- a much larger—if not dominant—proportion at the ding. Goldberg 1983. 2001.. Schiegl informally discuss some ideas about the reasons for the un. 2012. have become much more widespread to include monographs. 2003. bones. Mentzer deserve a paper of their own. Macphail et al. micromorphology employs thin geogenic and anthropogenic prehistoric cave deposits to sections made from undisturbed blocks of soil/sediment col- Holocene anthropogenic deposits and their natural post. agriculture/manuring. publications ramics. Instead. the association. Goldberg 1979c. micro- being excavated throughout the world in any given year. Stoops 2014. Shillito et al. during this period. (1989). carbonate precipitation/dissolution or phosphatic transforma- gy. Why morphology has broadened significantly from the original is that. numerous books and many articles on the subject (Bullock At about this same time. the latest being held in June 2015 bling. Crowther 2007. Macphail et al. occur annually throughout the globe. Courty et al. sta- Geoarchaeology meetings. and make statements about its mineralogical composition. Macphail and Goldberg 2010. Crowther allel complaint can be lodged against the dearth of 1996. 2010) that illustrate how the 1980s) that some publications begin to appear. focusing on technique works and what it can offer. Though relevant. cernible in thin section (for example. Douglas 1990. (2009). the first major journal paper was and Murphy 1983. 2011. internal geometry. 1989. Stoops was not until about two decades later (late 1970s/early 2003. Stoops et al. especially when com. and. Schiegl et al.

Middle Paleolithic deposits at La Ferrassie. b Thin section scans made on a similarity of the loose quartz grains (upper half of photo) with those in flatbed scanner in plane-polarized light (PPL) (see also Figs.g. it should be noted that historically. from field to microscope. why is micro. and those of the con. are produced by freeze-thaw (van Vliet-Lanoë 1985) and likely tied to the France. at least within a given thin section. Shown here are angular rectangle of b is enlarged as two photomicrographs that show rock fragments in red clayey sand at the base. archaeological sediments are typically sumers: archaeologists. Detail of the sample found within the light brown band visible in the field. top of the larger millimeter-sized limestone clasts (green arrows). into two broad groups: those involving the producers of mi- cromorphological reports/data/analyses. the scientific public. Stoops 2003). and 4). whereas the technique is not rocket science. However. c Area within location is shown to the right (rectangle inset). building materials. So. deliver the essential descriptive terminol- morphology not used more extensively? There are probably ogy—a lingua franca—that is required for communicat- many reasons for this. but their size and shape can nevertheless be de- Producers scribed quite adequately with Stoops’ invaluable guide (Stoops 2003). geoscientists. On the other hand. The vertical cuts in the profile mark the location of a onset of MIS4 (Guérin et al. coprolites. or not soils. 2.Archaeol Anthropol Sci Fig. number of components that are not found in typical soils (e. ly quite heterogeneous and exhibit a great deal of variability ments is that the data are difficult to make sense of. and sea shells). Blue arrows point to burned bones micromorphology sample about to be removed. these a Field view. 1985. and ultimately infer something about its origin (a) At the outset. Archaeological sediments can also exhibit a the projects. Moreover. Tucker 2001)). for details) of fine silt and clay on temperatures. one wonders if the routine or as they are typically presented. 3. (Boggs 2009. archaeological deposits are internal- One of the principal issues with micromorphological docu. Bullock et al. Bprogrammed^ use of the above texts is the best strategy to .g. 1 Micromorphology strategies and views. systems of micromorphological description are geared towards pedology. just as in sedimentology (e. without such those outlined here. metals. calcareous silty clay capping on clast of quartz-rich limestone at left in thick light brown charcoal—and bone-rich layer.. although they may be part of a soil or have soil clasts in the case of Cultural Resource Management. we think the main issues fall infrastructure we all would be adrift. the limestone Note the cappings (see Stoops (2003).. the funders of as constituents. ceramics. and they may be more complex than ing to others what is in the thin section. 2015). most and history—whether it is geogenic or anthropogenic. as can be seen in the major volumes that form the basis for micromorphological descriptions: Issues (Brewer 1976. bones. overlain by a centimeter. chalky solifluction deposits. So. Note the general by white. These texts. which in turn is capped PPL and at right in cross-polarized light (XPL). Dordogne.

c Thin section scan with large. Not . emphasizing here the iron-rich nature of the pisolites and secondary iron (b) Many published articles commonly include dense (and precipitated around the edges of the grains. nonetheless. see Aldeias and Bicho (2016) are important in the interpretation of the thin sections under study. According to Flügel. which were deposited by a small stream (2013a). Unfortunately. which provide the overall tedious) descriptions of the micromorphological data. struc- ture. peels. and abundant shell fragments (red arrows).. Lower row: Anthropogenic shellmound of Whereas they are of course essential in offering readers Cabeço da Amoreira (Muge. texture. Although we realize that the technique has been historically defined as Bsoil micromorphology. In fact. and time-consuming descriptions. however. many publications since then. France).^ A better approach is to describe and illustrate the centimeter to millimeter-thick Blithological^ units within a slide as a microfacies in the sense of Flügel (2009) (see also discussions in Goldberg and Macphail (2006). left) and in Bdark field^ view (right). B. (e. etc. and they do not provide a not those in micromorphology. As we discuss below. At the same time. such an approach is standard op. This definition contrasts with Bmicrofacies^ as used by Courty (2001). In fact. Portugal). Archaeol Anthropol Sci describe them as if they were soils. ++. such as clay coatings in nents as portrayed in this way are accurately informative.. burned bone. These criteria (along with others not presented of the text only those micromorphological features that here) lead to the interpretation of these sediments as a dumped deposit— for details. Moreover.g. tedious. phytoliths. the goal of defining microfacies in the field and in the microscope is to understand lateral and vertical lithological variations resulting from different natural and hu- man activities in different parts of the site.^ viewed in the light of the above. voids. −. the author(s) should illus- trate these features with well-chosen photographs that have informative and didactic captions (this point is elab. A more user-friendly ap. shells. a Crudely bedded reddish silty sand with micromorphology^ does not appear to have been adopted in clast of limestone (Ls). readily comprehensible view of the essential micromor- (c) It is also a relatively common practice to provide sum. basic descriptive attributes. +. Goldberg et al. without the notion of genetic interpretation.^ a term that has Fig. a more appropriate term might be Barchaeological micromorphology. 1 and 2). such tables erating procedure in sedimentary petrology articles but are really difficult to follow. ence or relative abundance (Table 1). charcoals (black). our normal and bold font) (Flügel 2009):1). these data are captured in the photograph any- way (Figs. who adopted the term from the facies con- cept in geology.. are given symbols diagnostic. phological characteristics of the samples. reddish color of the deposits. Bones. b Same thin section as a but scanned without the scanner cover. d Same as in c but in a dark field view.microfacies is regarded as the total of all sedimen- tological and paleontological data which can be described and classified from thin sections. helping in their visualization and mesoscale observation of their haphaz- proach would be to discuss and summarize in the body ard orientation patterns. the ability to understand what is in the thin sections. or are eventually interpretable. Top row from basal water Barchaeological soil micromorphology^ as used in Macphail deposits at the entrance of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic site of La Ferrassie (Dordogne. angular and rounded iron pisolites (blue arrows). In both cases. 2 Flatbed high-resolution thin section scans both in plane-polarized been used by Mentzer and Quade (2012) or alternatively light (PPL. it mary tables in which the vertical distribution of certain can be debated whether relative amounts of the compo- micromorphological features. Note data might more readily be placed in an appendix as the contrast given to the calcium carbonate content of the shell fragments.. such centimeter-sized quartzite pebble (Qzt). and bone fragments (white arrows). in which bodies of sediments or rocks are viewed in descriptive terms of their lithology. and +++) in order to indicate their pres- orated below). a set of properly chosen photo- graph(s) or thin section scans can obviate the need for record- ing data in the form of extensive. This Bdark field^ view highlights the contrast. polished slabs or rock samples^ (his italics. Barchaeological passing at the front of the cave. (2009)). and copro- lites are really part of the coarse fraction of an archaeological deposit and not really Bpedofeatures.

^ and as such. 2. a photomicrograph of a sin. graphs without detailed and didactic text captions are iments accumulated after the retreat of the high Eemian essentially incomplete. overall story that the author is trying to convey? In other or object. to scan the thin sections face down on the glass and leav- ing. These scans (Figs.. is just as (or more) important than how much of words. (2002)). 1. it is difficult to see the larger . or partial dissolution)—is important for readily help in interpretation.. information which was not visible from (f) Related to the photographic presentation of the data is the field evidence alone (Fig.g. they furnish a photographs in a micromorphological study as needed wealth of data that are missed when using only the petro- to demonstrate the results. gle bone in a sandy silt matrix with a field of view of. although their appearance in articles is (d) Photomicrographs: many of the published photomicro. and 4) can statement embraces both the content of the photos and be made on a good quality flatbed scanner by placing the their captions. or by informing the reader in the reflective. For example. interpreting the thin section and its role in the study as a whole. In addition and more recently.g. components in the section against a black background nification to include the overall sedimentary or pedologic and emphasizes aspects of the section that are highly context of the bone. the Bfull Monty^: what specifically is the reader looking while working with the petrographic microscope at mag- at here—with specific object or features highlighted by nifications of only ×20. especially if the caption reads something like Bbone ing the cover open. the presence/absence of a feature. one can readily become Blost in arrows—and what does this photograph tell us about the the woods. For example. comparatively infrequent practice of including scanned thin sections. Consequently. we have begun 200 μm is generally not very exhilarating or enlighten. 2). not only should there be as many scopes (Courty et al. (e) The above leads to two points. at best. We have to realize that in (archaeological) micro. Contrarily. clearly on the increase (e. Strat. secondary mineralogical transfor. the presence of terrestrial fish bones tation of the thin section and how this interpretation fits and coprolite grains in what was originally marine into the entire story of the study. Karkanas and Van de graphs are simply not revealing or informative. 3. Coarse/fine related Bone Quartz Feldspar Coprolites Volcanic Phytoliths Ash structure distribution sand glass 1 A Vughs Porphyric * *** * – – ** *** 2 B Granular Monic – ** ** * *** * – 3 C Channels with vughs Enaulic – *** – – – *** – 4 D Vesicular Porphyric *** *** * *** – – *** 5 E Channel Porphyric ** ** * * – * * 6 F Vughs Chitonic * **** – – ** – – 7 G Angular blocky Gefuric *** * – *** – ** *** “–” indicates absence of that component a See Stoops (2003) for definitions of terms uncommonly. relationships (Fig. it provides a caption why the presence of this bone—and any of its different aspect of the thin section in addition to those characteristics (e. 1989). sea level stand. and thus. say.Archaeol Anthropol Sci Table 1 Hypothetical data set showing relative abundance of micromorphological attributes as indicated by the number of the asterisks Samp. at the site of Contrebandiers nose and point out specific features that led to interpre- Cave (Morocco). 3). but the captions should give graphic microscope at higher magnifications. furnished in PPL. One is that captions in In any case. They constitute a visual transition morphology. the data are the photographs and not simply from field observations to those made at successively tables of stars with accompanying descriptive and wordy higher magnifications with stereo and petrographic micro- text. and OIL illuminations and can mation. Commonly. unit Porosity and micro. these scans provide a mesoscopic view of general are generally too succinct and not very informa. 4). thin section face up on the glass (see also Arpin et al. Structurea Coarse mineral components no. the writer should effectively lead the reader by the it is there. the components of the deposit and their geometric inter- tive. This technique (that here we are call- fragment from Layer OBY 1B.^ This condition could be ing Bdark field^) produces a high-contrast view of the improved significantly by taking a photo at a lower mag. XPL. such as calcite and iron (Fig. mineral. This Moortel (2014)). microphoto- shell-rich deposits clearly shows that these subaerial sed.

(PPL). thin section good paper because they supply the indispensable con- scans are also useful for teaching and collaborations with text of the micromorphology samples. It can be noted. well- (Morocco) with the incorporation of terrestrial elements into the marine preserved yellow hyena (?) coprolite with common vesicles (V). as well as those showing the locations of mi. d Same as c but in XPL where we can see the that the sea had already retreated from this position at this time. field images are essential—the sine qua non—of a with the petrographic microscope. also show that the accumulation of these sediments post-dates the marine terrestrial) materials in what was thought to be a marine deposit shows depositional event. Karkanas and take determinative mineralogy with such scans. and those illustrating living floors based on To some extent. which beach facies. Aldeias et al. Our experience is that geometry/dip of a stratigraphic level. 1200–2400 dpi. erosion.e. Mallol (2006). The point here is that the presence of continental (i. be able to judge independently whether the presented micromorphological interpretations are congruent with (g) What also seems startling is the not uncommon absence the overall and specific field contexts. The scale bar in all the not previously known or demonstrated. micromorphological components and features are plainly related to what is happening at the level of the landscape visible on the computer screen: it is possible to zoom in (climate. Archaeol Anthropol Sci Fig. and ultimately.. it is not possible to under. a View of the rounded shell-rich images is 1 mm overall view of the internal content that a high quality.g. or its association in scans made at resolutions of say. Manuscripts that are concerned with its setting. Of course. phosphatic nature of the coprolite. or lack of field photographs in micromorphological (and that the lack of field photographs is not just in micromor- geoarchaeological) papers. (2014). 3 Photomicrographs from the basal layer at Contrebandiers Cave sands with a large bone (B). an aspect isotropic. mesoscopic level of field observations (e. . (1989). high-resolution scan can provide. for example. Such photos should include phological studies but is lacking in geoarchaeology pa- general views of the landscape. Zaidner et al. or major landscape depositional events on places in the image up to ×400 natural size before they in the environs of the site) (for just a few examples. replete with scale and labels. (2014)). a micromorphological examination is piece-plotted artifacts definitely need to include field just part of the story. especially when a microscope is not available. the larger. use supplies a powerful strategy when used in conjunction Thus. cromorphological samples.. The reader has to colleagues. see become pixelated. b Same as a but in XPL. many with archaeological features and objects). but their Goldberg (2010). the site and profile within pers as well. Courty et al. c Large. In addition. geoarchaeological changes of occupation in landscapes. and it needs to be integrated with photographs to provide context.

shell orienta- microfacies and their geometric association. attend workshops on soil micromorphology. clients. which On the other hand. especially at the undergraduate level. graphics.Archaeol Anthropol Sci Fig. geoarchaeologists. in addition to the associated microfacies types (mF) at the right superposition of slightly distinct layers of shell-rich silts and sands. it should be venues in order to demonstrate the value of the approach. Here. part of their core curriculum. the main components. earth scientists. (d) relate the results to the problem at hand. Again. increase consumers’ familiarity is to have a lecture or labora- ogists. In fact. and it should be a required item in an archaeo- extensively in journals and media with scientific orienta. and (e) keep equally. such courses are missing in the geoarchaeology of mounds takes just this approach. informative visual Probably the overarching issue with consumers is that they are data (i. (b) highlight the important micromorphological fea- tures and what they mean. most . unfamiliar with micromorphology. this issue is prevalent within details of descriptive data to a minimum or shunt them to an the field of geoarchaeology as a whole (Goldberg 2008) and is appendix where they can be perused if need be. who include archaeol. Unfortunately.e. and tory section on micromorphology in an introductory archae- funding agencies. Left: Dark field thin section tion patterns.. producers need to be aware of this lack dialog among producers and consumers (see below). videos). for post-graduate archaeology students. both what it can do and. within perhaps a required course The brilliant paper by Sherwood and Kidder (2011) on in geoarchaeology. of acquaintance when they write reports (Goldberg and Macphail 2006) and articles. Not only should they publish more ology course. in part due to the simple fact that we have An additional option is to encourage more Boutsiders^ to not yet trained enough geoarchaeologists. One workaround to the discipline to their colleagues. 4 Example of mesoscale level of observations using the concept of Right: Same image but in this case. and in light of comments in the preced- would not only demystify the technique but help create ing producer section. what it cannot do. (c) provide clear. In tions but also—and especially—in archaeological any case. individual or combined photos. we can see the section. many departments. (see Aldeias and Bicho (2016) for details) (h) Micromorphologists need to be pro-active in promoting a subject of a separate but similar paper. logical science class. and microstratigraphic contacts are annotated in the thin scan from a Mesolithic shell midden in Portugal. Studies that include micromor- phology should (a) be written in a clear way with minimal Consumers jargon.

Aldeias V. for example.1002/gea. Goldberg P (2002) A new method of analyzing and else—as an initial tool for just visualizing and understanding documenting micromorphological thin sections using flatbed scan- ners: applications in geoarchaeological studies. architecture. We think that we all can really do better. how much glauconite might be a significant feature and call for further analyses with is present. matter. but rather what the overall results are and what they mean whether they have been heated and to what degree. and human-landscape interactions. we should all remind ourselves that mi- Shepherds and karst: the use of caves and rock-shelters in the cromorphology is not only an important tool in itself but it Mediterranean region during the Neolithic world. Our main thrust is to provide some guidelines for what should be Concluding comments done at a minimum. Such topics include how sites morphology runs the risk of being flat lined with more of the form.^ In other words. Vergès JM (2009) Along these lines.g. re- parties should continually remind themselves of the bigger searchers from different fields—both archaeology and the (geo)archaeological issues and how micromorphology can geosciences—will not agree with us on all points. includ- where micromorphological terms and descriptions are needed. since micromorphology is not a widely taught sub. sand. Archaeology 41: should be thought of representing a Bfirst line of analytical 191–214 defense. the domestication of same old. provide ideas to the archaeologist for generating interactions (see for example. But in any case. Goldberg (2008). to determine their composition. vol 1. new data or rethinking old data. geoarchaeology but the focus in this paper is how to make it Such a dynamic dialog would help people at both ends of more widespread in (geo)archaeology (Macphail and Cruise the spectrum by bringing up additional issues or questions that 2001). for example. Portugal). fauna. that we have at least put the message on the table for discus- sion. some positive action.. Aldeias V. In: Giesking JE which should not—before going to the effort and expense of (ed) Soil components: organic components. and even videos). it should be utilized—if nothing Arpin TL. researchers. 2015) not care about the c/f ratio of a sample. and tals. the occurrence M (2012) Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the . doing them. pp 369–473 et al. just to name a few. full documentation of context and micromorphological results. Contrebandiers Cave. contemplating a grain-size analysis of deposit Berna F et al. as point..) do of red sand-sized pellets of silty clay (Goldberg et al. On the other hand. Goldberg P. Bamford M. ashes. Geoarchaeology: Int what is in the sample. Bicho N (2016) Embedded behavior: human activities and the construction of the Mesolithic shellmound of Cabeço da Amoreira ramics. In this paper. such as ce. mostly by using Micromorphology in archaeology has really come a long way thoughtful. No doubt. micro- number of important topics. but we hope help to clarify or resolve them. charcoal. lization of archaeological micromorphology and have pro- ject. bone. As it has been pointed out a while ago (Courty New York. Pedrotti A. and with a bit of good fortune. lithics. sion of similar issues that plague geoarchaeology-archaeology and likewise. Dibble HL. Springer-Verlag. Fontanals M.21573 ed out at the beginning of this paper. Morocco. For complicated situations reasoning can be applied to brownish bone fragments. doi:10. etc. etc. or organic from Stoops (2003). animals. Nevertheless. On the other hand. archaeological micro. students. Mallol C. how and when humans used fire. baseline level (e. In this regard. Holt S. J Hum Evol 69:8–30 Angelucci DE. (2007) Sediments exposed to high temperatures: reconstructing pyrotechnological processes in Late Bronze and composed of a mixture of geogenic and anthropogenic com. μ-FTIR. Without such improvements. manganese. This last bit is perhaps wishful we have tried to outline some of the reasons for the underuti- thinking. Archaeol Anthropol Sci people (whether bureaucrats. useful and instructive graphics: photographs. and hardly so in the New World. results of micromorphological studies have elucidated and demonstrated that archaeological sedi- ments—which are the direct or indirect result of human activ- ities and behaviors—need to be considered as fundamental References parts of the archaeological record. The same in terms of the project at hand. ing other analytical techniques that can then be used to see if it might be fruitful to provide a glossary of the most frequent they have been heated or are they simply stained with a post- terms used in the report or paper that could be summarized depositional material such as iron. J Archaeol Sci 34:358–373 ponents (e. Geoarchaeology. El-Hajraoui M (2014) Deciphering morphology still remains a largely underutilized tool in the site formation processes through soil micromorphology at study of history. Moreover. It should serve as a guide for deciding J 17:305–313 on what other analytical tools should be employed—and Babel U (1975) Micromorphology of soil organic matter. Boschian G. both posed some ways to improve the situation. Brink J. dia- in the past 35–40 years and it has contributed significantly to a grams. on par with the more tradi- tional toolkits for studying past human history. or the size/shape of post-depositional calcite crys.g. Iron Age strata at Tel dor (Israel).and char) should Berna F. 1989). we have purposefully avoided a discus- could be checked in thin section by the micromorphologist. Goldberg P. Horwitz LK. Chazan probably be reconsidered. it would be agreeable if consumers Micromorphology is one among many methodologies in could communicate more frequently with the producers. (Muge.

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