ARCHAEOBOTANY

ARCHAEOBOTANY

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iten
Code
80434
ACADEMIC YEAR
2018/2019
CREDITS
6 credits during the 2nd year of 8453 Conservation of Cultural Heritage (L-1) GENOVA
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR
BIO/03
LANGUAGE
Italian
TEACHING LOCATION
GENOVA (Conservation of Cultural Heritage)
semester
1° Semester
Teaching materials

OVERVIEW

Within modern Archaeology studies, plant remains are an important source of information, as they can greatly improve our knowledge about the environment in which human activities were carried out in the past and the availability and management of environmental resources. Archaeobotany studies microscopic and macroscopic plant remains that have been preserved in favorable conditions, both in archaeological sites (on site) and outside of settlements (off site).

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The purpose of the course is to show the criteria and methods of studying plant remains useful for the knowledge of the environmental characteristics of the past and for the history of plant resources. Moreover, it provides the basis for knowledge of the relationships between plants and human cultures.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

Archaeobotany consists of the study of the microscopic and macroscopic remains of plants, in order to reconstruct past environments and use of plant resources, especially in the field of archaeology studies. The course aims to provide students with knowledge about the main categories of plant micro-remains (pollen, spores, phytoliths, fibers, microcharcoal) and macro-remains (wood, charcoal, seeds and fruits) especially regarding the possibility of conservation, identification and ecological interpretation of research results. For this purpose, the characteristics of the different types of plant remains and their information potentials are illustrated. A series of examples of research aims to introduce the applicative aspects in different research fields, from the traditional archaeological sites to environmental archeology and historical ecology.

Teaching methods

 Frontal lessons are given, for a number of  hours equivalent to 5.5 CFU  and practical laboratory exercises  (0.5 CFU) are carried out on the identification and taxonomic attribution of micro-remains (pollen and spores) and charcoal remains (anthracology).

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Teaching program

Definition of the matter of study; brief history of Archaeobotany; ecology as a constant reference; plant remains as evidence of palaeo-environments and human activities; sedimentation processes (taphonomy); preservation of plant remains; general sampling criteria; environmental archaeology; the archaeobotanical disciplines.
Palinology: Pollen and Spores: Nature, Morphology, Identification, Preservation, Sampling, Extraction, Pollen Analysis, Specimen Characteristics and Interpretation of pollen spectra and diagrams, Relationships between Pollen Deposition and Vegetation, Human Activity Indicators.
Xylology and Dendrology: Principles and Applications; Identification of wood on anatomical bases; Applications in archaeology, dendrochronology, dendroclimatology and radiocarbon age calibration.
Anthracology: charcoal: nature, characteristics, archaeological interest; taxonomic identification on anatomical bases; Sampling in different contexts; Anthracological analysis: the origin of charcoal and its meaning;  anthracological spectra and diagrams.
Carpology: seeds, fruits and other macroremains; sampling and extraction; flotation; identification; Interpretation of results (ecology, nutrition, agriculture, trade).
Fitoliths: nature and characteristics; extraction and identification; paleoenvironmental and palethnobotanic meaning.
Current flora and vegetation as sources for the environmental history: evidence of the use of plant resources in living species and plant communities.
Case studies of archaeobotany and of environmental archaeology: anthraology in medieval sites of northern Italy; the production of charcoal; the charcoal burning sites.
Other information: the course includes some practical exercises regarding the topics dealt with and sometimes also seminars organized by LASA. Further information and bibliographical details will be provided during the lessons. The Powerpoint presentations used for the lessons are available at the Aulaweb website of the Humanities School.

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

for the preparation of the exam, in addition to the lessons and exercises, it is recommended to read specialized texts, among which the following are highlighted:

- Caneva G. (Ed.), 2005 – La Biologia vegetale per i Beni culturali. Vol. II. Conoscenza e valorizzazione (capitoli I, III,VIII, X). Nardini Editore. Firenze.
- Arobba D. e Caramiello R. (a cura di), 2003 – Manuale di Archeobotanica. Franco Angeli Editore. Milano.
- Bourquin-Mignot C., Brochier J.E., Chabal L.- Crozat S., Fabre L., Guibal F., Marinval P., Richard H., Terral J.-F., Rhery I., 1999 – La Botanique. Collection “Archeologiques”. Editions Errance. Paris.

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

Ricevimento: Students are invited by appointment, to be agreed with the teacher via email contact (carlo.montanari@unige.it)

LESSONS

Teaching methods

 Frontal lessons are given, for a number of  hours equivalent to 5.5 CFU  and practical laboratory exercises  (0.5 CFU) are carried out on the identification and taxonomic attribution of micro-remains (pollen and spores) and charcoal remains (anthracology).

LESSONS START

10 october 2018

EXAMS

Exam description

The exam consists of an oral test during which the learning of the topics provided by the course is ascertained

Assessment methods

The assessment of the knowledge essential for the student's preparation to be considered adequate is through a series of questions throughout the core topics of the course program

FURTHER INFORMATION

The frequentation of lessons and exercises is strongly recommended, especially considering that the subjects of the course are not among those at least partially known to students in the humanities area and may be difficult to understand without adequate explanations such as those given during the lessons, through images, examples and case studies