Storytelling with Dirt: The Case for Making Archaeological Micromorphology a Standard Technique in Australian Archaeology
The Australian National University
Archaeological micromorphology is the microscopic study of thin sections prepared from intact blocks of anthropogenic soils and sediments. The technique recovers high-resolution in situ information from archaeological stratigraphy, effectively peeling back the moment-by-moment history of human interaction with the landscape. The strength of the technique lies in storytelling: by focusing on the ground substrate, the technique captures the exact place of interaction between our ancestors and our earth. Micromorphology is a vastly underutilised technique in Australian archaeology. This presentation focuses on the application of micromorphology to the practice of archaeology in Australia. The presentation provides: an accessible overview of the method, including field sampling and microscopic analysis; a review of studies that have utilised this technique; and, an overview of the key archaeological questions the technique is capable of addressing in Australian archaeology. Archaeology is destruction: if we are to excavate, micromorphology offers the best method to archive site stratigraphy for future generations to engage with.