Monday, 1 June 2015

Microfossil of the Month: Multi-celled Sedges

Yikes, I can't believe it's already June, and time for a new microfossil! This month we have firstly a general view of a phytolith slide from the site of Boncuklu in Turkey, at x100. This just gives you a taste of how chock full of microfossils these slides are! I have highlighted two particular phytoliths here shown at x400, both are conjoined phytoliths from sedge. Sedges, or Cyperaceae, are monocots which are similar to reeds, and are associated with wetlands. Though significantly, it should be noted that they can be found in other types of environment as well. At Boncuklu we know from other environmental work that a local wetland habitat was quite likely, and we also see a lot of reed phytoliths in these samples. The blocky square pattern is typical of sedge phytoliths, though it is difficult to say anything about which species they might be from. This sample is from an ashy layer in a midden deposit, and it could be that the sedges were burnt alongside reeds, either deliberately, or accidentally, for fuel.

The past month has been even more hectic than usual, and this post is significant for me. I posted recently about how my current research post is coming to and end, and with it my access to a microscope. So this may be my last monthly microfossil for a while, until I somehow get access to another 'scope with photographic capabilities. Speaking of which, I have set up a crowd-funding campaign to purchase said 'scope, largely so that I can continue my work with the fantastic excavations at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney, but it will also enable me to continue my blog posts on archaeology microscopy and micrograph photography. And just a reminder, all the images on my blog are freely available for use in teaching, outreach activities etc (with credit), so please do consider supporting here if you would like to see this continue!

Above: Lots of phytoliths! Lower left: Close up of 1. showing sedge phytolith Lower right: Close up of 2. showing another sedge phytolith



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