Soil micromorphology and it's contribution to the interpretation of archaeological sites
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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- AmS-Varia 
Original versionSageidet, B.M. (2000) Soil micromorphology and it's contribution to the interpretation of archaeological sites. In L. Selsing (red.), Norsk kvartærbotanikk ved årtusenskiftet (pp 21-25). Stavanger : Arkeologisk Museum i Stavanger
The soils and the sediments of archaeological sites provide a context for the artefacts. They are a resource for essential information about stratigraphy, site formation processes and possible natural or artificial disturbances. The microscopic study of thin sections from soils makes it possible to describe and measure components, features and fabrics in undisturbed soils, which cannot be seen by the naked eye. The method provides an important insight into many problems of, for example, soil development, diagenesis, weathering, and soil/plant interactions, and can be used for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. The use of micromorphology is increasing in a number of disciplines, particularly in soil science, quaternary geology, and palaeoecology. It was not until the 1970s that the micromorphological analysis of soil thin sections was developed for general application in archaeological investigations. Today, soil micromorphology has become one of the established scientific techniques like analysis of macrofossils, charcoal, pollen, and bulk chemical, biological, and physical analysis. Soil micromorphology is an essential part of a recently started project at the Museum of Archaeology, Stavanger, in collaboration with the Department of Soil and Water Sciences at the Agricultural University of Norway at Ås. The project will combine different geoarchaeological methods to obtain new information about prehistoric agriculture, and prehistoric use of the landscape at Jæren, southwestern Norway. The combination of the different geoarchaeological methods is especially expected to throw new light on methodological problems related to pollen analysis in mineral soils.