Methods in Archaeology: Comparing phytolith assemblages from bulk samples and thin sections (The case of Rue des Boîteux, Brussels, Belgium)

Rosalie Madeleine Hermans, Luc Vrydaghs, Alexandre Chevalier, Rosa Maria Albert, Yannick Devos

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePoster

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In 2014, an almost complete Holocene peat sequence, dated between the 9th millennium BC and 12th/13th centuries AD, was uncovered at Rue des Boîteux, Brussels (Belgium). This sequence is covered by two Dark Earth units dated between the 13th and 15th centuries AD. Based on geoarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and zooarchaeological research these units were identified as medieval urban horticulture (Speleers et al., in preparation). Phytolith analysis was integrated in the archaeobotanical research. Present contribution focuses on the results of the phytolith assemblages of the two Dark Earth units and the transition from the peat to the Dark Earth units.

The phytolith analysis was conducted within a complex methodological framework involving the analysis of phytoliths in bulk sample (processed along three different extraction methods) and soil thin sections. While the phytolith assemblages, documented by analyses of both methods, share similar features, the tendencies differ considerably. A preliminary analysis of these results shows that the results of both methods complement each other by documenting different aspects of the phytolith signature. The purpose of this contribution is to explore the similarities and differences.

Speleers L., Devos Y., Deforce K., De Cupere B., Vrydaghs L., Hermans R, Modrie S. (in preparation). What grew in the garden? A taphonomical and archaeobotanical study of a late medieval garden soil, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Feb 2020
EventIntegrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany - University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Feb 202016 Feb 2020


WorkshopIntegrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • methods
  • phytoliths
  • thin section
  • Dark Earth


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