Geoarchaeological and soil micromorphology analyses

    Geoarchaeological studies were started on the Aradetis Orgora mound site in 2013 under the supervision of prof. Giovanni Boschian (University of Pisa). The main aim of these studies is to elucidate the influence of past human activities on sediment production and deposition and on the site formation processes, in order to understand the use of the site and of the surrounding areas.
     Geoarchaeology and deposit stratigraphy are powerful tools in assessing the sequence of natural and anthropogenous processes that formed the archaeological sequence, and contribute to the assessment of the relative chronological framework of the site. The soil micromorphological technique can be applied in order to find clues to these issues, because several types of traces of human activity can be put into evidence at microscopic level, including ash, phytoliths, dung remains, trampling, etc.
     In 2013, the work was focused mostly on three aspects:
- assessment of the general geological framework of the site, by the identification of the characteristics of the bedrock, and on its influence on local geomorphology. Large part of fieldwork was devoted to this aspect, because the archaeological sequence is still short, mostly including recent occupation phases, and the sounding-like strategy applied to the excavation has not put into light significant activity areas.
- geoarchaeological examination of the sediment sequences in areas A and B, with identification of the macroscopic characteristics of the sediments, description of the lithology of the lithostratigraphic units and stratigraphic control over the different steps of the sounding  in area B.
- micromorphology of floor construction and use, mostly as indicators of possible differences in site use between the various occupation phases. In this perspective, some prepared floors were sampled, with special attention to a precise determination of their age and cultural attribution, in order to compare them to similar installations of other sites (basically Natsargora, sampled in 2011-2012) and of other cultural phases.
     Floor sequences were sampled within excavation area A of the site, where the stratigraphic relationships are clearer and the installations found can be easily attributed to distinct activities. Samples for micromorphological analyses are usually undisturbed sediment blocklets approximately 9 x 6 x 6 cm that are carved out from excavation profiles or surfaces. The preparation of the samples is carried out in specialised laboratories; after thorough drying, the monoliths are impregnated by polyester resin at low pressure, cut into slices by diamond disks, polished by corundum abrasive and glued on microscope slides. Their thickness is then reduced to 30 micrometres by grinding on corundum. The slides are finally covered by a thin glass slide. These thin sections can be observed under a standard polarising microscope and described following standard procedures.