Phytoliths in Archaeology: Chemical Aspects
Phytoliths have now become almost a routine aspect of many archaeological investigations. They are very widely used in many contexts to gain information about the plant species grown by or associated with humans in the past. Up until relatively recently most workers have used phytolith morphology to investigate archaeological contexts, and still the majority of papers published take that approach. However, there is increasing interest in using the chemical or even isotopic makeup of phytoliths to provide more information than is available merely from using morphology. The second key area where phytolith chemistry is important in archaeology is taphonomy. In particular, phytoliths with different chemistries might be expected to degrade in soils or sediments at different rates, and soil chemical conditions may also affect degradation. Both these factors could seriously impact on the interpretation of phytolith results from archaeological contexts.
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