Exploring contamination (intrusion and residuality) in the archaeobotanical record: case studies from central and southern England
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- Pelling, R., Campbell, G., Carruthers, W. et al. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2015) 24: 85. doi:10.1007/s00334-014-0493-8
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While conducting a review of published archaeobotanical remains from southern and central England, it became apparent that contamination (intrusion and residuality) was a notable, recurring theme in many assemblages. This problem is most acute in some key periods in which plant assemblages are generally less abundant than in others, such as the Neolithic and the early medieval (Saxon) periods. While most archaeobotanists are aware of the potential for contamination, without direct dates it is often difficult to demonstrate and it is likely to have obscured the true patterns in the data. Contamination becomes particularly problematic once poorly or incorrectly phased data enter the secondary literature. A number of case studies are presented, including newly dated material from a high profile excavation at Durrington Walls, Wiltshire. The importance of direct dating of plant remains is discussed.