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Title: Charcoal analysis, with particular reference to archaeological sites in Britain
Author: Keepax, Carole A.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3596 3497
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 1988
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In this thesis, data from 232 archaeological sites in England, Scotland and Wales are used to build the foundations of a standard methodology for charcoal identification and interpretation. Sampling methods are examined, including sample selection, recovery, sample size, fragment size, and their effects on results. A computer key for native woody plants (and some introduced species) was constructed to aid identification of archaeological charcoals. Thirty-one taxa were identified from the sites studied. Results are compared by histograms, presence analysis and multivarlate analysis. The broad pattern is found to display little variation in relation to archaeological period or context type. Quercus sp, Rosaceae (subfamily Pomoldeae), Corylus sp, Prunus sp, and Fraxinus ap are the five most common taxa on the majority of sites. The relationship of this finding to anthropogenic factors is discussed. Compared to pollen or molluscan analysis, charcoal is shown to be insensitive to changes in woodland distribution and type. There are, however, indications of environmental effects in the occurrence of some less commonly recorded taxa (e.g. Rhamnus sp and Calluna sp) and in the overall results from a number of sites. Temporal and spatial distributions of Fagus sp, Acer sp, Carpinus sp, Pinus sp, Tilia sp and others are considered in relation to their known history and ecology. This illustrates the value of large-scale charcoal evidence in helping to reconstruct woodland history. The importance of these findings to the interpretation of individual results is considered in terms of a fuel selection: availability hypothesis. This, for example, suggests a possible reason for the lime decline. Multi-faceted analysis of taxa identified, charcoal concentration, the number of fragments identified per taxon and the proportion of twiggy material present is shown to be a potential means of characterising deposits, and one which also promises to yield further information in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available