Session: #319

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

IMPR - Phytoliths in Geoarchaeology and Micromorphology
Phytolith studies are an essential aspect of modern geoarchaeological research. Phytoliths are indeed observed on samples provening from diverse geographical locations, environments and time periods. Present session intends to bring together geoarchaeologists/micromorphologists and phytolith specialists working on archaeological deposits.

Traditionally, both specialists work on different mediums: the phytolith specialist analyses bulk samples, while the geoarchaeologist/micromorphologist studies thin sections of sediment/soil blocks preserving the original stratigraphy of the deposits. Consequently, both approaches document different aspects of the phytolith record. Thin sections inform about the spatial context and formative processes. The analysis of bulk samples details the morphological diversity of the assemblages and relative concentrations. Integrating both methods has thus potential to considerably boost their respective analytical capacities and to fuel discussion in both research fields. Of major relevance are issues relating to morphological diversity, the (post)depositional histories and the discrimination of phytoliths sharing (or not) a common botanical origin.

One is forced to note that indeed few phytoliths specialists attend micromorphological workshops. Likewise few micromorphologists attend IMPR. The purpose of present session is to initiate such meetings aiming at bridging both research fields. As a first step, micromorphologists are invited to report on their phytolith observations regarding the questions above highlighted, and to discuss them with the broader phytolith community.

A microscopic session will follow these presentations. Its purpose is to raise awareness among specialists of both fields on the potential of phytolith analysis of thin sections.
phytolith, micromorphology, geoarchaeology, bulk sample, thin sections
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:
IPS - International Phytolith Society 12th IMPR - International Meeting for Phytolith Research


Main organiser:
Luc Vrydaghs (Belgium) 1
Ana Polo-Diaz (United Kingdom) 2
2. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (MSCA-IF) Department of Archaeology. University of Sheffield