Archaeological palynology is the study of pollen, the virtually indestructible, microscopic, but easily identifiable plant parts in archaeological sites. Pollen is one of several types of plant residues which have been retrieved from archaeological sites, either clinging to the inside of pots, on stone tools or within archaeological features such as storage pits or living floors.
When identified to species, archaeological pollen can be used to identify clues to prehistoric climate (what kind of plants grew in the neighborhood of a given site) and diet (what kind of plants were consumed at a given site). Recent studies have shown that caution should be taken with regard to pollen, because like many microscopic archaeological remains, natural and cultural behavior may both account for the presence of pollen.
A brief bibliography on palynology studies in archaeology has been compiled for this project.
This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.