Archaeological materials



Publication Details

Macphail, R. I. & Goldberg, P. (2010). Archaeological materials. In G. Stoops, V. Marcelino & F. Mees (Eds.), Interpretation of Micromorphological Features of Soils and Regoliths (pp. 589-622). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.


This chapter attempts to describe the most commonly occurring archaeological materials that are found in thin sections of soils and archaeological deposits, with comments on their archaeological provenance, importance and relationship to the interpretation of past human activities. Such a broad treatment has not been previously attempted. Soil micromorphology is an essential tool in identifying such materials, that commonly occur in small sizes and amounts, and is able to discriminate between materials that have been burned, digested or waterlogged, for example. The technique also ensures the context and relationship between these materials and the sediments in which they occur, which is fundamental requisite to any understanding of an archaeological context. The chapter includes materials relating to earth-based ground-raising and construction, hearths, domestic space and animal management (organic and inorganic waste materials). Industrial processes and manufactured materials (e.g. lime plasters, metals and stone tools) are also briefly included.

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