Palaeoenvironmental Analysis

A wooden stake found during the Rescued from the Sea excavations. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2018
© Copyright ARS Ltd 2018
© Copyright ARS Ltd 2018

We offer a comprehensive suite of palaeoenvironmental services. These include the provision of advice and consultancy for a wide range of palaeoenvironmental requirements as well as assessments of charcoal, wood, other types of macrofossils and pollen to inform on the condition, range and potential of material. We can also carry out full analysis of charcoal, wood, other types of macrofossils and pollen and can help you to submit macrofossils and other residues for radiocarbon dating. We are also highly experienced in the integration of various palaeoenvironmental data and radiocarbon dating information to produce reconstructions of past landscapes, land use and climate.

Wood Identifications

Wood remains, either in the form of charcoal or as wood from waterlogged features, are often preserved in archaeological deposits. Wood remains may also be preserved through mineral replacement. These remains can provide information on woodworking techniques, fuel procurement, fuel use, and past environmental conditions. Charred wood remains are also the most common source of material used for radiocarbon dating.

Pollen Analysis

Palynology or ‘pollen analysis’ is a robust technique for reconstructing former vegetation composition and different types of human land use (e.g. grazing, agriculture, woodland management) by using microfossils (pollen grains and spores) that have been preserved in sediments. By identifying the pollen grains and spores in the sediment, a picture of former vegetation composition and environmental conditions can be reconstructed. The range and type of past vegetation can give insight into past farming practices and land use regimes, climate conditions and the impact of human activities on vegetation and landscape. At ARS Ltd we have considerable experience of pollen analysis and combining this information with archaeological data to provide a more thorough understanding of the past and answer questions that could not be tackled by archaeological data alone.

Botanical Macrofossils

Material such as cereal grains and weed seeds (plant macrofossils) are frequently found on archaeological sites. They are most commonly preserved by charring or waterlogging, although mineral replacement and dessication (usually in standing buildings) can also occur. Plant macrofossils provide information relating to diet, arable farming, the keeping of livestock, introduction of non-indigenous plants, the reconstruction of local environments as well as many other aspects of past human behaviour and environmental impact. Botanical macrofossils are most frequently used for acquiring radiocarbon dates for archaeological features.

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Archaeological Research Services Ltd