High-resolution dynamic illustrations in soil micromorphology: A proposal for presenting and sharing primary research data in publication
Geoarchaeology, as a significant discipline within archaeology and the geosciences, operates at many different scales and encompasses several analytical methods and techniques, including what we highlight here: (archaeological) soil micromorphology. Communication practices of micromorphological researchers have not evolved significantly or, at least, at the same rate as archaeology as a whole, which has recently experienced an explosion of technological applications related to documentation. This paper aims to explore and illustrate a new methodological proposal for thin section digitalization and for the presentation of micromorphological data in scientific articles. We started from a premise: micromorphology should be a discipline based on images, since they provide the essential data of micromorphological observation and inference. The proposal combines existing tools and techniques, as well as those from other disciplines, to increase the standard quality of images used in scientific publications and produce dynamic and contextualized illustrations of research results in micromorphology. The final goal of the workflow is to provide keys and tools that allow researchers, as producers of information, to present their data in a more effective, contextualized and informative way as article enrichments or linked illustrations in their papers. To illustrate the procedure, we use two samples from different archaeological contexts: the Palaeolithic site of Roc de Marsal (France) and the Roman city of Baelo Claudia (Spain). The benefits of this proposal are multiple: a) access and objectivity to raw research data, b) improvement in the interaction among micromorphologists, c) spreading of the informative potential of micromorphology to the research community, and, finally, d) making the reader an active participant in the information. Although there are different eligible ways of image scanning and data sharing, the combination of gigapixel thin sections and article enrichments define a step forward in communicating research results and sharing raw data, an opportunity that should be fostered and not be missed.