The Archaeobotanical Collection
The archaeobotanical collections are increasing with each new research project. With
the help of staff, students, and volunteers, we are assembling a unique and unequalled
reference collection of mid-Atlantic plant species and colonial introductions. These
reference collections help to better understand the botanical structure of
archaeological sites, and ultimately, the lives and activities of colonial Americans
as they forged not only new lives, but new ecologies and relationships with
plants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Phytoliths are microscopic silica inclusions produced in many plants that
preserve much better than typical organic remains on archaeological sites. The more
we study modern plants’ phytolith production, the better we can understand the
patterns of phytoliths we see in soil samples taken from archaeological sites.
The On-Line Comparative Collection
This new feature is an on-line phytolith collection documenting a large research
project involving testing of hundreds of modern plants for phytolith production.
Photomicrographs are included for plants that produced phytoliths. The results
of this research help interpret archaeological phytolith distributions recovered
from sites. The focus of this collection is on native regional species, as
well as notable colonial introductions. Many of these plants had not been
previously examined for phytolith production.
Search the Phytolith Database