Pollen dating archaeology

Pollen grains were first recognized only after Robert Hooke invented the compound microscope in the 17th century.

Palynology allows scientists to reconstruct the history of vegetation through time and past climate conditions because, during the blooming seasons, pollen and spores from local and regional vegetation are blown through an environment and deposited over the landscape.

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The word palynology comes from the Greek word "palunein" meaning to sprinkle or scatter, and the Latin "pollen" meaning flour or dust.

Pollen grains are produced by seed plants (Spermatophytes); spores are produced by seedless plants, mosses, club mosses, and ferns.

Palynology is the scientific study of pollen and spores, those virtually indestructible, microscopic, but easily identifiable plant parts found in archaeological sites and adjacent soils and water bodies.

These tiny organic materials are most commonly used to identify past environmental climates (called paleoenvironmental reconstruction), and track changes in climate over a period of time ranging from seasons to millennia.

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The rate of decay of this unstable isotope after the organism has died is assumed to be constant, and is measured in half-lives of 5730 40 years, meaning that the amount of carbon-14 is reduced to half the amount after about 5730 years.

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