This branch of archaeological palynology focuses on the
influence of vegetation and climate change on human behavior
and demographic patterns
in addition to the effect of humans on the environment.
Archaeological mitigation of large construction
projects often includes environmental reconstruction as a
background for the chronology for human occupation of the
area. A Southwestern example is the palynological
reconstructions of precipitation and temperature for the
Dolores Colorado region by Petersen (1988). Intensive
Anasazi occupation of the area was permitted by a longer
growing season and greater summer precipitation during the
Medieval Warm Period (AD 1000 - 1350).
In the mid- twentieth century, pollen analysis of European
Paleolithic sites often utilized cave sediments. Leroi-
Gouran and Miskovski analyzed the pollen from burials,
living floors, and cave fill and interpreted the pollen
percentages in terms of the regional climatic chronology.
- Reid A. Bryson and Al M. Swain. 1981. Holocene variations of monsoon rainfall in Rajisthan. Quaternary Research 16:135-145.
- L. Mark Raab and D. O. Larson. 1997. The medieval climatic anomaly and punctuated cultural evolution in coastal southern California. American Antiquity 62:
- Owen K. Davis 1990. Caves as sources of biotic remains in arid Western North America. In: Davis, O.K. (Editor), Paleoenvironments of Arid Regions. Palaeo. Palaeo. Palaeo. 76:331-348.
- Arlette Leroi-Gouran. 1965. Les analyse pollinique sur les sediments des grottes. Bulletin de l'association français pour l'étude de Quaternaire 2: 145-152.
- Kenneth L. Petersen 1988. Climate and the Dolores River Anasazi. Univ. Utah Anthropolog. Pap. No. 113. 152 pp.
- Josette Renault-Miskovski, M. Biu Thi, and M. Girard. 1978. Palynologie archèol. CNRS Centre rec. archèol. Notes monogr. techn. 17, 502 p.
This term, used in Faegri, Kaland, and Krzywinski (1989),
primarily refers to the palynological study of human impact
on the environment. Pollen analysis of lakes and bogs may
be used to study humans as agents of vegetation change
rather than causes such as climate. Firbas (1934) and
Iversen (1954) lead the development of this technique in
northern Europe. The human-caused changes in pollen
diagrams may be difficult to detect because the
archaeological sites are small and the effects on the pollen
rain to not extend far. Indicator taxa, such as cultigens
(Wheat) or weeds (Plantago) are useful.
J. Iversen experimentally investigated the relationship
between humans and the pollen rain by clearing a mature
forest with stone-age tools, and following the development
of weeds on the forest floor. These same weeds accompany
the earliest wheat pollen in pollen diagrams dating to
the Atlantic / Sub Boreal transition of the
European Climatic Sequence. In contrast
to these local effects, in the American Midwest, regional
vegetation patterns were shaped by Indian-caused fires,
which ceased after settlement (Grimm, 1983). The degree
of vegetation disturbance reflected in the pollen rain can
be used as a measure of population density or duration
(annual vs. seasonal) of occupation.
- Journal of Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
- E.M. v.Zindren Bakker 1951. Archaeology and palynology. South African Archaeological Bulletin 6: 1-8.
- Knut Faegri, P.E. Kaland, and K. Krzywinski. Textbook of Pollen Analysis. 1989. John Wiley and Sons.
- F. Firbas 1935. Über die wirksamkeit der natürlichen verbretungsmittel der Waldbäume. Natur u. Heimat 6: 65 - 73.
- Jane Gray and Watson Smith 1962. Fossil pollen and archaeology. Archaeology 15: 16-26.
- Eric C. Grimm 1983. Chronology and dynamics of vegetation change in the prairie-woodland region of southern Minnesota U.S.A. New Phytologist 93:311-350.
- Johannes Iversen. 1956. Forest clearance in the Stone Age. Scientific American. 194: 36-41.
As used here, this term refers to the study of sediments of
archeological sites, particularly soils.
In Britain, it is a general term for the application of
palynology and other geological methods to archaeological settings.
Geoffrey Dimbleby pioneered environmental archaeology
in Brittain in the 1950s, particularly the pollen analysis
of soil samples. He demonstrated that pollen was preserved
in certain soils, and he interpreted the pollen percentages
in terms of human-caused environmental change. His analyses
were characterized by close-interval sampling and tens of
samples per site -- standards that are seldom surpassed in
contemporary studies of archaeological open sites.
- Geoffrey Dimbleby. The palynology of archaeolgical sites. 1985. Academic Press.
- Steven A. Hall 1981. Deteriorated pollen grains and the interpretation of Quaternary pollen diagrams. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol. 32: 193-206.
- Ian D. Campbell and C. Campbell. 1994. Pollen preservation: Experimental wet-dry cycles in saline and desalinated sediments. Palynology 18: 5-10.
Artifact Sourcing: Martin and his students (Bohrer,
Hevly) also pioneered the pollen analysis of archaeological
artifacts with the "pollen wash" of ground-stone artifacts.
This technique is frequently applied, but has never been
rigorously investigated. It consists of analyzing the the
pollen from material imbeded in an artifact.
This North American term includes the previously-mentioned
topics, and some unique applications. It is characterized by
the analysis of artefacts, features, and coprolites from
archeological sites as well as stratigraphic study of its sediments.
Archaeological palynology in North America was heavily influenced by
Paul Martin and his colleagues during the 1950's
and 1960's. Although his interests primarily were in the
effects of climate change on the North American megafauna,
his connection with the Geochronology Laboratory of the
University of Arizona led to the pollen analysis of many
archaeological sites in the American Southwest. The
aridity of Southwest produces excellent pollen preservation
in open archaeological sites and in alluvial settings.
Martin recognized the power of archaeological palynology
to trace the history of the domestication and cultivation
The superb preservation provided by southwestern aridity has allowed
the detailed analysis of human dietary preferences.
History of Plant Domestication: Paul Martin (Martin and
Schoenwetter, 1960; Schoenwetter, 1974) and his students were the first to apply
palynology to the study of plant domestication in North America. Corn (Zea mays)
is the most commonly found pollen of a cultigen, squash and cotton (but not
bean) also occur - as do “incipient cultigens“ such as Agave, Cleome,
Opuntia, and the abundant pollen of various “weeds.“
The foods and fibers upon which civilization is based were first selected and
cultivated by humans in the early Holocene. Early examples are wheat in the Near East
and squash in Central America. Cotton remains an abominable mystery.
It's domestication having occurred twice (?) in Egypt and Arizona.
Alwynne Beaudoin's Dung Bibliography
- Karen R. Adams 1988. The ethnobotany and phenology of plants in and adjacent to two riparian habitats in southeastern Arizona. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Arizona.
- Vorsilla L. Bohrer 1968. Paleoecology of an archaeological site near Snow Flake, Arizona. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Arizona.
- Vaughn M. Bryant, Jr. and R G. Hollloway. 1983. The role of palynology in archaeology. Advances in archaeology Method and Theory. 6: 191-224.
- Jannifer W. Gish. 1994. Large fraction pollen scanning and its application to archaeology. pp. 93-100 IN: O.K. Davis, Aspects of archaeological palynology: methodology and applications. AASP Contributions Series 29.
- Dick H. Hevly 1964. Pollen analysis of Quaternary archaeological and lacustrine sediments from the Colorado Plateau. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Arizona.
- Gerald K. Kelso 1971. Hogup Cave, Utah: Comparative pollen analysis of human coprolites and cave fill. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona.
- Paul S. Martin. 1963. The last 10,000 years. Univ. Arizona Press.
- Paul S. Martin and Jim Schoenwetter. 1960 America's oldest cornfield. Science 132: 33-34.
- Paul S. Martin and Floyd W. Sharrock. 1964. Pollen analysis of prehistoric human feces: a new approach to ethnobotany. A new approach to ethnobotany. American Antiquity 30: 168-180.
- James Schoenwetter. 1974. American Antiquity 39: 292-303.
- Kristin D. Sobolik. 1988. The importance of pollen concentration values from coprolites: an analysis of southwest Texas samples. Palynology 12: 201-214.
- Bruce D. Smith 1997. The initial domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 years ago. Science 276: 932-934.
- Herb E. Wright, Jr. 1977. Environmental change and the origin of agriculture in the old and new worlds. pp. 281-318 IN: C.A. Reed (ed.) Origins of Agriculture, The Hague, Mouton Publ.
Archaeology: The study of the history of human behavior based on remains such as bones and stone tools.
Coprolites: feces "fossils." Typically these are preserved in arid environments such as as dry caves or sand dunes.
European Environmental Sequence And Archaeological Equivalents
0 - 2500 yr
Bronze Age &
Holocene: the last 10,000 years --
Boreal to Sub Atlantic, above.
Owen Davis 2/99