fragment of burnt bone from Figueira Brava cave (Portugal; the bone is seen in plane polarised light and is ca. 1 mm wide)

The laboratory is equipped for the study of archaeological sediments by means of optical microscopy, in particular through the technique known as “soil micromorphology”. This technique allows  geoarchaeologists to determine what dynamics originated archaeological deposits, to analyse their components and features, to distinguish anthropic versus natural inputs – in a nutshell, to understand site formation processes. To do this, undisturbed samples are collected from the site and impregnated, and 25-30-micron-thick thin sections are cut from them. The thin sections are then observed under the polarising (or “petrographic”) microscope – a customised Olympus BX51P microscope.


thin section under the petrographic microscope