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Apart from the inorganic remains of human material culture, which have constituted an object of analysis of archaeological science since the time of its formation, the modern study of the past includes bio-archaeological (organic) remains in its cognitive field, a group of finds that are particularly useful for understanding daily life and the environment in the past. The bio-archaeological finds are particularly interesting when one considers that the ties of humankind with the natural world are as old as civilisation itself.
Seeds, fruit and other plant remains are often found incorporated into the stratigraphic record during the excavation of archaelogical sites, and they are usually preserved in charred form. The discipline that examines these plant concentrations is called archaeobotany, and it seeks to investigate, by means of their study, issues concerning the organisation of the economies of prehistoric and later societies, the eating habits of people, the methods of land cultivation used, specialised uses of space (storage areas, food preparation areas, areas used for the specialised processing of some plants for the production of secondary products, etc.), ways of handling the natural environment, and some aspects of social and cultural expression.
In the case of Paliambela, the archaeobotanical study begins in the field of the excavation, with the collection of soil samples from the units being excavated, and is completed with the writing of an interpretation attempt based on the data as a whole. Between these lies a series of stages concerned with the recording of the samples, their separation from the large mass of soil, the sorting of the samples in the laboratory using a stereo-microscope so that the plant matter is separated from the rest of the material in the sample, the identification of the plant species undertaken on the basis of their morphological characteristics and with the use of a systematic collection of seeds and specialised handbooks and, finally, the quantitative analysis of the data using specialised computer programs.
Archaeozoology concerns itself with the study of animal bones which are collected from archaeological layers. Through the archaeozoological analysis information is accumulated about the composition of herds, and the exploitation of animals for meat or secondary products (milk and wool). In addition, the existence of bones belonging to wild fauna offers us information of the exploitation of the natural environment. The handling of herds forms part of the wider economic system of exploitation implemented by the settlement. The relationship between humans and animals reflected in the archaeolzoological material also contains information about the ideas of people, social stratification and symbolic practices.
At Paliambela an emphasis has been placed on the collection and detailed recording of the animal bones from each excavation unit. Once they have been collected, they are washed and recorded. Their record includes the identification of the animal species, sex or age, and any cut marks or signs of burning are also recorded as they indicate the manner of use and disposal. Once they have been recorded, their position in the layers and in the area of the excavation is analysed in an attempt to uncover consumption, social, or symbolic practices.
A basic aim of the study of shells is the understanding both of their economic, and their broader significance in the daily lives of the inhabitants of the settlement. The multi-faceted use of shells, as food, as material for the production of useful and decorative objects, as an ornamental or symbolic object, and as supplementary material in constructions, makes the material suitable for the investigation of a myriad of issues. Furthermore, their presence gives information about the environment of the time the site was used, and their durability helps in the interpretation of the post-deposition processes in an archaeological whole.

The method of recording and study is called upon to give answers and to check hypotheses regarding the wider use of shells, and so the methodological tools must be chosen with care. At the first stage of recording, the species were identified, the weight was measured by species, and the numbers of complete shells or shell fragments were counted by species, those bearing signs of working or consumption were noted, and those that had been collected when already dead were separated out. At the second stage the quantitative and qualitative data was processed on the various spatial horizons.


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