Preliminary Analysis of Phytoliths from Prehistoric Sites in Southern Jordan
Phytolith analysis is becoming an accepted technique of paleobotanical research at prehistoric sites in the New World (Pearsall 1989; Piperno 1988), but this method is not often exploited at sites in the Old World. Phytoliths are abundant in grasses, sedges, reeds, rushes, and palms, which are among the most useful types of plants to prehistoric peoples. They are therefore likely to have been transported and deposited at a variety of different types of sites. Since phytoliths are composed for the most part of amorphous silica, a nonorganic material, they are well-preserved in contexts where macrobotanical remains maybe missing. Phytolith analyses conducted in the Near East (Helbaek 1960; Rosen 1987, 1989, 1992) have shown that phytoliths can be both abundant and identifiable in prehistoric sites of this region, including those with no other botanical remains. The following report is based on a pilot study of sediments from several different prehistoric sites in southern Jordan, to determine the kinds of paleobotanical information that can be gained from this approach in these contexts.
KeywordsFloral Part Wavy Wall Bulliform Cell Cereal Straw Prehistoric Site
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