Provenance analysis in archaeological contexts
2017. "Provenance analysis in archaeological contexts", 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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Microfossils are found associated with building materials, ceramics, tools, works of art and human remains. Despite problems associated with the destructive preparation techniques required to examine microfossils, their size renders them important analytical tools as they can be recovered from small samples such as potsherds, tesserae and even chips of paint. Biostratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental analysis provides data that can be used to determine the provenance of raw materials and their transportation along trade routes, the migrations of agricultural practices, diet and culture. A more profound archaeological analysis can therefore be achieved by taking an integrated approach as outlined here.
Calcareous nannofossils are one of several groups of microscopic fossil remains that can occur within archaeological artefacts such as ceramics, lithics and plaster. Their detailed taxonomic and biostratigraphic study holds significant potential to address archaeological questions such as raw material procurement, artefact provenance and related topics including trade, exchange, migration, technological choice and tradition. Here the occurrence of nannofossils in ancient artefacts is discussed, a method for their study is outlined, and a review of the ways in which they have been used in this interesting and poorly reported context is presented.