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The taphonomy of plant and dung microfossils through ethnoarchaeological and experimental approaches

AuthorsPortillo, Marta
KeywordsAnalytical techniques
Livestock dung
Western Mediterranean
Taphonomic aspects
Issue Date2019
PublisherUniversity of Reading
CitationIntegrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany (IMAA 2019) : (2019)
AbstractThis presentation reviews the contribution of integrated analytical techniques in archaeobotany, geoarchaeology and ethnoarchaeology to interdisciplinary approaches on the identification and taphonomy of livestock dung within agricultural built environments. Ethnographic and experimental approaches provide comparative datasets and models on factors affecting the formation, composition, preservation and decay of animal dung, and the ecological and anthropogenic pathways influencing these. The focus is on calcitic dung spherulites that originate in the digestive tracts of many animals, opal phytoliths, and thin-section micromorphology, from a range of materials including fresh dung pellets, sediments from pens and pasture grounds, as well as dung-products such as dung cakes, dung fuel remains, and building materials. These provide comparative datasets on certain taphonomic issues that are still understudied, such as the variation in the digestibility, durability and seasonality of plant and faecal microfossils that are excreted with dung, as well on the impact of burning at various temperatures. The outlined case-studies are primarily from core regions in the origins and spread of agriculture in the Near East, with comparative ethnoarchaeological reference to the western Mediterranean, including the Maghreb and island ecosystems from the Balearic Islands declared as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. These case-studies illustrate the contribution of the much-needed ethnographic and experimental studies of dung for understanding taphonomic aspects which are fundamental for interpreting this still overlooked material in archaeology.
Appears in Collections:(IMF) Comunicaciones congresos
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