Phytolith - Archaeology

Archaeology

Phytoliths are very robust in nature, and are useful in archaeology, because they can be used to reconstruct the plants present at a site or an area within a site even though the rest of the plant parts have been burned up or dissolved. Because they are made of the inorganic substances silica or calcium oxalate, phytoliths don't decay when the rest of the plant decays over time and can survive in conditions that would destroy organic residues. Phytoliths can provide evidence of both economically important plants and those that are indicative of the environment at a particular time period.

Phytoliths may be extracted from residue on many sources: dental calculus (buildup on teeth); food preparation tools like rocks, grinders, and scrapers; cooking or storage containers; ritual offerings; and garden areas.

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