Get Adobe Flash player

Micromorphology

As part of the interdisciplinary approach as practiced by the Sissi Archaeological Project, an extensive micromorphological study is carried out on site by Frank Carpentier. Complementary to archaeology and geoarchaeology, where visually discernible layer structures are determined on a macroscopic scale, micromorphology focuses on a soil’s microstratigraphy. As such, it can provide further insight on depositional history: a horizon deemed contiguous may actually consist of several horizons only visible microscopically and what appears to be a demarcated boundary between two layers could very well be a gradual change composed of several layers. These microscopic layers often contain information that relates to their formation. This can be geomorphological (alluviation, sedimentation, leaching…) or human-induced (floors, roofed areas, hearths, stabling, manuring,…). In Sissi, the focus of micromorphological research is on the latter: sequences and possible functions of floors and rooms. The samples taken vary in size, albeit not much. They are retrieved on site from a pillar left by the archaeologists. Depending on the soil’s integrity and consistency, they are either wrapped in plaster bandages or in kitchen towel and duct tape. They are fully encased, labelled and registered before being carefully- harvested. If performed correctly, the sampling provides an undisturbed, stratigraphical integral sample. These samples are then sent to a laboratory where they are processed into thin sections that can be studied under an optical microscope. After a quantitative description and preliminary interpretation of its components and structure, the thin sections can be further subjected to microscopic, submicroscopic and chemical analyses in order to address more specific research questions. Micromorphological research contributes empirically verifiable information to the larger interpretational framework.

Areas sampled micromorphologically in 2008 (Zones 2, 3,4 & 5)

Areas sampled micromorphologically in 2008 (Zones 2, 3,4 & 5)

 

alluviation, sedimentation, leaching