Anthracology: Charcoal Analysis

  • Rita Scheel-Ybert
Living reference work entry


Anthracology is a transdisciplinary field of knowledge that applies to the study of ancient or extant charcoal macroremains. This discipline was developed in close association with Archaeology, but contributes to different fields such as Palaeoecology, Palaeobotany, Botany, Forestry, and Geology.

In Quaternary and pre-Quaternary sedimentary deposits, charcoal allows reconstruction of the palaeovegetation and palaeoclimate.

In archaeological sites, it provides palaeoecological data while also testifying the usages that past populations made of woody plants. This discipline sheds light on several issues of importance to Archaeology, such as the past landscape, dwelling space, site catchment area, fuel economy, use of wood in domestic and ritual contexts, among others. By these means, it allows a better understanding of ancient ways of life.

Extant charcoal is studied in a taxonomic approach (charcoal anatomy), or in association with foresters as a means of reducing illegal...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em ArqueologiaMuseu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

Section editors and affiliations

  • E. Christian Wells
    • 1
  • Arleyn Simon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.School of Human Evolution & Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA