Abstract and Keywords
Microfossils found in archaeological ceramics include representatives of kingdoms Fungi, Protista, Plantae, and Animalia and are composed of calcite, silica, or resistant organic compounds capable of withstanding firing. Methods by which microfossils are isolated for study vary considerably, but the best results involve the disaggregation of potsherds into their individual grains or by cutting petrological thin sections. Microfossils can be related directly to the age and depositional environment of the source materials (clays, temper, and slip) used in the manufacturing process, although the introduction of contaminants at the time of construction must also be recognized. When incorporated into an integrated analysis, the microfossils may demonstrate provenance; contribute to a better understanding of the local environment and landscape; identify transportation routes; contribute to an understanding of the technology used, including construction methods and firing; and elucidate the use to which the vessels were put.
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