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Taphonomy and phytoliths: A user manual

AutorMadella, Marco ; Lancelotti, Carla
Fecha de publicación2012
CitaciónQuaternary International (275) : 76-83 (2012)
ResumenTaphonomy is commonly described as “the study of the environmental conditions affecting the preservation of animal or plant remains”. This broad definition is usually understood to refer to post-depositional processes. One of the main purposes of taphonomic studies is the understanding of possible biases in the fossil record. In this respect, different forms of pre- and post-depositional taphonomy can affect phytolith assemblages that scientists retrieve from sediments and soils. These can be both natural- and human-induced. This paper analyses the forms of possible biases during- and post-depositional, as well as during sampling, recovery and study and proposes some methodological adjustments as to reduce the possibility of errors as well as to check the representativeness of the assemblages retrieved. It is shown that control is possible when human action is involved in the form of attentiveness in sampling and recovery strategies. Pragmatic and statistic methods are proposed so to understand the impact of pre- and post-depositional taphonomic processes on the final phytolithic assemblage. With an increase of stratigraphic control and simple calculation of representativeness it is possible to achieve a confident level of standardisation so to reduce biases at minimum and obtain reliable results with phytolith analysis.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2011.09.008
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