Reducing Charcoal Abundance in Archaeological Pollen Samples Academic Article uri icon


  • In the field of archaeological palynology, charcoal and ash debris in sediments have been among the palynologists' worst enemies. Too often important pollen information is found in the soils of sites near fire hearths where the members of ancient cultures would gather to eat and conduct social activities, and in winter sleep near the fire. For decades archaeological palynologists have searched for ways to remove the thousands of tiny flecks of charcoal and ash in these samples so the fossil pollen can be observed. Until now, no technique has proven adequate for successful charcoal removal without the loss of pollen. We have not completely solved this problem, but we have developed an extraction method that significantly reduces the amount of included charcoal and ash in archaeological sediments. We tested this new extraction procedure on charcoal-laden archaeological sediments from a pueblo site in Arizona. The result demonstrates the advantage of using this new pollen extraction procedure for certain types of archaeological soils. © 2009 by AASP Foundation.

author list (cited authors)

  • Bryant, V. M., & Holloway, R. G.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • February 2009