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Description of microremains for microanalytics

  • Phytoliths: Microscopic remains formed in living plants, which reproduce their cellular tissue and represent a valuable source of information from archaeological and non-archaeological sediments to infer plant uses and for palaeovegetation reconstructions.
  • Ash Pseudomforphs (Calcium oxalate crystals): they are the product of burning bark, wood and leaves of dicotyledonous plants, which are rich in calcium oxalate crystals. With heat (400 and 500ºC) they transform into a more stable calcitic phase, but keeping their original shape. Their identification gives information on plants that have been burnt.
  • Faecal spherulites: calcitic aggregations produced within the digestive systems of certain herbivores, especially ruminants such as sheep, goats and cattle. Their identification in soils and archaeological sediments may be indicative of animal presence and herding practices (i.e. fumiers)
  • Starches: microgranules of solid carbohydrate occurring in the seeds, tubers and other part of plants. They are important component of rice, corn, wheat, beans, potatoes and many other vegetable foods. Their identification on archaeological sediments gives indication on food processing and intake.
  • FTIR (Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy): Is a technique used for mineral identification and permits to identify both crystalline and amorphous minerals as well as many organic materials. In archaeology it is used to better understand formation and postdepositional processes that may affect the preservation of certain archaeological remains, as well as the use of certain minerals or organic materials for different purposes.