Mosaics and microfossils
Alison Tasker, Ian P. Wilkinson, Mark Williams, 2017. "Mosaics and microfossils", 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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Thin-section analysis of chalk tesserae obtained from two Roman mosaics in Caerleon (South Wales) identifies foraminifera of a Late Cretaceous (Campanian) biostratigraphic age. The mosaics from which the tesserae originated were laid either in or close to the legionary fortress built at Caerleon by the Romans in AD 74–75. The Backhall Street mosaic formed part of the Baths complex of the fortress and is dated to the AD 80s; the August Villa Garden tesserae were found close to Barrack Buildings IX and X of the fortress and may have been laid about AD 200. Chalk Group outcrops are not found close to Caerleon, so the chalk used in both instances must have been transported to the site. The foraminiferal analyses suggest a possible source in the Dorset area. A transport route from Dorset to the legionary fortress at Caerleon via ports at either Crandon Bridge or Sea Mills on the Severn estuary is suggested.
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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.