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Title: Diatom analysis in archaeological research
Author: Fulton, Joy E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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The growing use of scientific techniques in the analysis of archaeological remains has prompted research into establishing the range and limits of application of different forms of analysis. This thesis continues that trend by looking at diatom analysis in an archaeological context. Diatom analysis has long been established as a method of reconstructing past environments in the field of palaeolimnology, and has also been recently extensively employed in limnological studies of lake acidification. As a consequence of this history, there is an extensive corpus of literature dealing with diatoms as organisms and their role in environmental reconstruction. Diatoms are robust, unicellular, siliceous algae, which exhibit a high degree of environmental specificity. It is the properties of enhanced preservation in sediments and distribution by environment that make diatoms of interest in archaeology. In order to explore the limits of potential for diatom analysis in archaeology, the literature is assessed and a number of case studies from sites of different type and period, from around Britain, discussed. Previous research has established the usefulness of diatom analysis on waterfront and fenland sites, but little work on more typical site types has been carried out. The case studies were designed to establish if diatom analysis could provide any more information about the environment of the sites than was available from other sources, and if diatom analysis could be used where other forms of analysis were unsuccessful. Apart from environmental reconstruction, diatom analysis has also been applied to the provenancing of ceramic material, and part of this thesis is concerned with that aspect. The advantages and drawbacks of this form of analysis are discussed through an examination of the literature and a series of experiments. The results obtained during this research are encouraging and indicate that diatom analysis has a role in archaeological research, although until further research by botanists and ecologists has been carried out, this may be limited.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available