Sclerochronological analysis of archaeological mollusc assemblages: methods, applications and future prospects

Twaddle, Robin W., Ulm, Sean, Hinton, Jane, Wurster, Christopher M., and Bird, Michael I. (2016) Sclerochronological analysis of archaeological mollusc assemblages: methods, applications and future prospects. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 8 (2). pp. 359-379.

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Abstract

Accreting skeletal tissues found in bone, teeth, otoliths and molluscan shell act as sensitive recorders of local environmental and climatic conditions. Owing to their robust nature, ubiquity and abundance in the archaeological record as well as the potential for high-resolution data acquisition, the accreting skeletal tissues of archaeological molluscs are increasingly employed as palaeoenvironmental proxies. Researchers have chiefly utilised such proxies to extend instrumental records of environmental conditions through palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and explore the impact of environmental and climatic change on human populations. However, the use of environmental proxies from the archaeological record can be hampered by a number of methodological challenges including inadequate sampling strategies, appropriate calibration, the use of inappropriate proxies and the broad extrapolation of localised results. This paper reviews the use of molluscan shell from archaeological contexts as palaeoenvironmental proxies. We focus on the application of sclerochronology—a suite of high-resolution physical and geochemical data recovery methods widely used in conjunction with molluscan shell. This paper presents an overview of the potential of these techniques in approaching more nuanced understandings of human-environment interactions and how they can be more successfully incorporated into archaeological research.

Item ID: 37204
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1866-9565
Keywords: palaeoenvironmental proxy; human-environment interaction; palaeoenvironmental reconstruction; sclerochronology; stable isotope analysis; trace element analysis
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Projects funding scheme project number DP120103179, JCU Collaboration across Boundaries grant, ARC Future Fellowship project number FT120100656
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2015 05:02
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960304 Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts) @ 30%
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