All the Small Things: The Refinement of Foraminiferal Analysis to Determine Site Formation Processes in Archaeological Sediments

01st June 2006

Dan Rosendahl

BSocSc(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2005

Foraminifera are single cell protozoa that are ubiquitous in marine environments. The hard casings, or tests, of foraminifera are routinely studied in the earth sciences, particularly for palaeoenvironmental information. Foraminifera have been little studied by archaeologists, however, despite their potential to contribute to understandings of coastal site formation processes and localised palaeoenvironments.

In this study techniques and methods of foraminiferal analysis are developed and applied to the problem of distinguishing between natural and cultural marine shell deposits, using the Mort Creek Site Complex, central Queensland, as a case study. Results allow unambiguous demarcation of the natural and cultural deposits studied, based on patterns of foraminiferal density. Natural deposits were found to have more than 1000 foraminifera per 100g of sediment, while cultural deposits exhibited less than 50 foraminifera per 100g of sediment. The range of taxa represented in the foraminiferal assemblage is consistent with a shallow water subtropical marine ecosystem, indicating general environmental stability throughout the period of deposit formation. Findings are applied to re-evaluate previous models of site formation at the Mort Creek Site Complex.

Dan Rosendahl
All the Small Things: The Refinement of Foraminiferal Analysis to Determine Site Formation Processes in Archaeological Sediments
June 2006
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Thesis Abstracts
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