Field cultivation or Gardening. The site Atuatuca Tungrorum (Tongeren, Belgium)

Luc Vrydaghs, Barbora Wouters, Terry B Ball, Yannick Devos

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePoster


Various plant remains, such as pollen, fruit, and seeds, can be recovered from archaeological units. Some taxa, including many cultivated crops, also produce phytoliths. Thus phytoliths recovered from archaeological units can be an additional source of data for the study of agricultural practices.
Because phytoliths are formed from opal that precipitates within plant tissues, how they are released from the plant tissue and/or deposited and preserved in archaeological contexts are significant questions researchers should consider when conducting phytolith analysis. Unfortunately, traditional methodologies used to extract phytoliths from archaeological samples, which typically include aggressive mixing and acid treatments of the samples, obliterate most depositional and preservation contexts.
In contrast to traditional extraction methodologies, phytoliths in soil thin sections maintain their relative distribution and relation to other components in the soil matrix, thus allowing researchers to analyse their distribution patterns, visibility and preservation within the soils and sediments in which they were deposited. Integrating all these strands of evidence with micromorphology can provide additional data to help researchers discriminate field cultivation from gardening.
The present poster intends to illustrate such an approach by analyzing phytoliths observed in soil thin sections taken from several dark earth units from the site of Atuatuca Tungrorum (Tongeren, Belgium).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventIntegrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany - University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Feb 201825 Feb 2018


WorkshopIntegrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany
CountryUnited Kingdom

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