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Recovering plant microfossils from archaeological and other paleoenvironmental deposits: A practical guide developed from Pacific Region experience

by Mark Horrocks last modified 2020-04-16 10:19 AM

Horrocks M. 2020. Asian Perspectives 59, 186-208.


Presented are revised procedures for recovering pollen and spores, phytoliths, and starch and associated plant material from archaeological and other paleoenvironmental deposits for microscopic analysis. The procedures are in large part based on lengthy experience of preparation of numerous samples of deposits from Malesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The procedures are designed as a simple laboratory guide, outlined in detail and summary, providing a practical time-efficient, step-by-step method.

The method has been carried out successfully on many types of soils and other deposits from Pacific Islands, including clays, silts and sands; waterlogged, porous, peaty, volcanic and coralline soils; and sediment cores, tools, pot sherds, dental calculus and coprolites from a range of environmental settings in tropical and temperate climates. Also included in the procedures are mounting recovered microfossils on microscope slides and preparing and mounting modern reference samples.


Plant microfossils, density-separation, pollen and spores, phytoliths, starch.

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