Patience when phytolith processing

Not what you want to see when going to check on samples in the drying oven
This week I've mostly been packing up boxes and boxes of samples and books ready to be shipped to Edinburgh in January, as well as getting on with the final bits of data tidying for the Feeding Stonehenge project, getting it ready for publication in spring. I can't wait to share the details! I was also sent a set of samples for urgent phytolith processing for the Ecology of Crusading project, to include in a preliminary environmental report for the Elbląg project. Phytolith extraction is probably one of the most straightforward lab processes that I do, though it can be time consuming as it involves lots of stages where the samples need to be dried out. Let this be a lesson; ramping up the temperature of the drying oven may help dry your samples out quicker but it may also have unforseen consequences. In this case I have ruined 3 of my lovely petri dishes. Though bizarrely they haven't actually melted or gone soft at all, just twisted and warped. Kinda like Shrinky Dinks. Luckily the samples are fine! I'll be getting on with removal of carbonates tomorrow, How To details coming soon.

For more on the archaeology of Elbląg, check out this blog here: It's in Polish but the google translate button gives you the basic idea - though some of the translations are truly bizarre. The entry on pottery production translates 'fragments' as 'blood' for some reason, giving rise to such interesting phrases as "information on how to manufacture blood" and "Some of the forms of the blood are characteristic of areas in Central Germany".

In other news, my article in Geoarchaeology is now published, which covers the detailed micromorphology results from my PhD and 2 years' additional work on further material. I am so glad this one is finally done, having had it floating around for about a year and a half. There are few suitable journals that allow sufficient word/page count for an epic micromorphology descriptive monster like this, and it has been edited so many times I am quite sick of the sight of it. But don't let that put you off! There are lots of pretty pictures too if that helps, and a bunch of useful refs to other geoarchaeology related work at Catalhoyuk. Co-authored with my PhD supervisor Wendy Matthews. As always, pdf available from me if you don't have access. 

Shillito, L.-M., and Matthews, W. (2013). Geoarchaeological Investigations of Midden-Formation Processes in the Early to Late Ceramic Neolithic Levels at Çatalhöyük, Turkey ca. 8550–8370 cal BP Geoarchaeology: an International Journal 28:25 – 49.