Sugar in archaeology: maybe not so useful

Directed study

Adrian Fenech

Blog post 4

Looking at the dry sifting and floatation processes I have used on the midden material, they seem to have mostly served the purpose of cleaning the material. These processes cleaned the materials very well, because it is reasonably easy to identify faunal remains simply by looking at them. This means that I do not have to keep lightly wetting the materials to see if the water is absorbed, indicating porous bone.

However, the subtraction of vegetation and charcoal—the purpose of the floatation procedure—does not seem to have helped much in narrowing down the amount of material likely to contain faunal remains. This is because, although floatation has proven to be extremely effective at separating vegetation and charcoal, these materials do not seem to make up a great deal of the material in the lab as indicated in the photo:

Left: Light fraction. Right: Heavy fraction

It might have been more effective  simply to have performed the deflocculation procedure on the midden materials, because this is designed specifically to clean them. Although I never tested this technique, I think it would have been more helpful in the project as compared to floatation. This is because the primary aim in the project is to identify faunal remains. Therefore, a technique which is designed to make materials more visible is more useful than one which separates out charcoal and vegetation.

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