Ostracods in archaeological sites along the Mediterranean coastlines: three case studies from the Italian peninsula
Published:January 01, 2017
Ilaria Mazzini, Veronica Rossi, Simone Da Prato, Valerio Ruscito, 2017. "Ostracods in archaeological sites along the Mediterranean coastlines: three case studies from the Italian peninsula", The Archaeological and Forensic Applications of Microfossils: A Deeper Understanding of Human History, M. Williams, T. Hill, I. Boomer, I. P. Wilkinson
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Ancient harbour basins, lagoons and coastal lake sediments buried beneath the Mediterranean delta plains can be considered as long-term archives of anthropogenic impacts. The benefits of a micropalaeontological approach in studying archaeological sites located in marginal marine environments are that the archaeologically biased picture can be strongly enriched by detailed palaeolandscapes information.
In marginal marine environments, ostracods are known to be excellent indicators because: (1) many species have a well-known tolerance to salinity variations; (2) the analysis of population structure provides good indications about the autochthony of the assemblage; and (3) they react to even subtle environmental changes, both natural and anthropogenically forced, in terms of densities, distribution of selected species and phenotypic traits.
Examples of ostracod studies will focus on three site typologies: buried landlocked harbours, fluvial harbours and coastal lagoons/lakes. In those studies, the use of different but complementary approaches (archaeology v. micropalaeontology) allowed the reconstruction of diachronic landscapes, linking the natural evolution of coastal and alluvial plains to regional population and settlement dynamics.
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The Archaeological and Forensic Applications of Microfossils: A Deeper Understanding of Human History
Microfossils are an abundant component of the sedimentary rock record. Their analysis can reveal not only the environments in which the rocks were deposited, but also their age. When combined, the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of microfossils offer enormous utility for archaeological and forensic investigations. Their presence can act as a geological ‘fingerprint’ and the tiniest fragment of material, such as a broken Iron Age potsherd, can contain a microfossil signature that reveals the geographical source of the materials under investigation. This book explores how microfossils are employed as tools to interpret human society and habitation throughout history. Examples include microfossil evidence associated with Palaeolithic human occupation at Boxgrove in Sussex, alongside investigations into human-induced landscape change during the Holocene. Further examples include the use of microfossils to provenance the source materials of Iron Age ceramics, Roman mosaics and Minoan pottery, in addition to their application to help solve modern murder cases, highlighting the diverse applications of microfossils to improving our understanding of human history.