Micromorphology at Sodmein Cave – looking at the lowest level of site formation processes
First micromorphological investigations at Sodmein Cave were started and four pilot thin sections from the sequence are in process. Sodmein is located in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and contains artefacts dating from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. It will expand the previous first sedimentological analysis of the stratigraphy and will deliver more insights into the formation processes of this important site.
Due to the high amount of excellent preserved plant remains and coprolites, the thin sections not only offer information about sediment accumulation processes and pedofeatures, but also of fauna and flora activity. The varying portion of aeolian sand and silt indicate diachronic changes in aeolian input to the cave. This will be one of the main focusing topics of the analysis, because we can interpret it as an indication for a potential climate change during accumulation of the Middle Palaeolithic layer G.
This first micro perspective of the sequence highlights the potential of a systematic micromorphological approach. The typical observation of the thin sections (polarising microscope and under blue light) is supplemented by high resolution digital image analyses of flatbed scans and micrographs of the digital microscope Keyence VHX-2000.
First results were already discussed during the workshop on Archaeological Soil Micromorphology (4th – 15th November 2013), held by Richard I. Macphail at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. This international workshop provided the opportunity for gainful discussions about different types of thin sections, as well as personal practice on own thin sections.
The opportunity for the master student to participate at this workshop shows the good integration of young researchers into recent research and advanced training courses as part of the CRC.
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Stratigraphic profile with sample location of SOD 1 – SOD 3.
Photo: Olaf Bubenzer
|Scan of SOD 4 under reflected light (size 60 x 80 mm). Noticeable is the high amount of organic, enhanced in the lower part of the section.
Photo: Martin Kehl
|Felix Henselowsky is working on the thin sections from Sodmein Cave at the workshop on Archaeological Soil Micromorphology (4th – 15th November 2013) at London University.
Photo: Martin Kehl