Phytolith taphonomy: a comparison of dry ashing and acid extraction on the breakdown of conjoined phytoliths formed in Triticum durum
Authors: Jenkins, E.L.
Journal: Journal of Archaeological Science
Durum wheat plants grown under optimum irrigation conditions in Jordan were processed in three different ways: 1) using a dry ashing method, 2) using acid extraction and 3) using both these methods, first dry ashing and then acid extraction. The aim was to determine if the laboratory processing method employed has an impact on the number of conjoined phytoliths recovered. This is important because it has been proposed that the number of conjoined phytoliths, or multi cells, can be an indication of water availability in arid and semi-arid regions (Rosen and Weiner 1994). The results showed that the processing method does have an impact on the resulting assemblage with dry ashing producing a greater number of multi-cells than acid extraction. It is proposed that either the more violent oxidation of organic matter during acid extraction causes the breakup of conjoined phytoliths or that the silica dehydrates during dry ashing resulting in a slight fusion between the individual phytoliths and hence more conjoined forms.
Preferred by: Emma Jenkins