2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


BRYANT, Vaughn M., Palynology Laboratory (TAMU 4352), Texas A&M University, Department of Anthropology, College Station, TX 77843-4352, vbryant@neo.tamu.edu

Charcoal is inert and extremely difficult to remove from sediments examined for their pollen contents. This problem has plagued the field of archaeological palynology for more than one-half century. Hearth, rock shelter, and cave sediments are ideal locations to search for fossil pollen evidence of cultural activities and information about the types of plants associated with cultural usage. Nevertheless, abundant quantities of ash and soot from cooking and heating fires often dominate those samples and cannot be removed by using various extraction procedures. This makes the analysis of such samples extremely time-consuming or impossible. Similar problems occur in examining sediments from areas affected by forest fires and from some types of forensic samples. Recent experiments demonstrate that various types of procedures, in combination with a series of heavy density separation procedures, will significantly reduce charcoal in samples. Often, the removal of excess charcoal enables difficult samples to be counted more quickly and with greater accuracy. Tests reveal that the procedures do not create pollen loss.