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Potential vegetation markers – analytical pyrolysis of modern plant species representative of Neolithic SE Spain

Schellekens, Judith, Barberá, Gonzalo G., Buurman, Peter
Journal of archaeological science 2013 v.40 no.1 pp. 365-379
Anthyllis cytisoides, Asphodelus, Brachypodium, Cistus albidus, Dorycnium pentaphyllum, Ephedra fragilis, Hordeum vulgare, Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus phoenicea, Lathyrus cicera, Lathyrus sativus, Lens culinaris, Olea europaea, Phillyrea angustifolia, Pinus halepensis, Pistacia lentiscus, Pisum, Quercus coccifera, Rhamnus, Rosmarinus officinalis, Smilax aspera, Stipa tenacissima, Triticum aestivum, Triticum monococcum, Triticum turgidum subsp. dicoccon, Vicia ervilia, Vicia faba, Vicia sativa, aerial parts, archaeology, barley, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, legumes, pyrolysis, pyrolysis gas chromatography, roots, soil, soil organic matter, vegetation cover, wheat, Spain
A selection of plant species that may have been relevant for the Neolithic in the SW Mediterranean have been characterised with pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (pyrolysis–GC/MS) in search for molecular vegetation markers. Roots and aerial parts were analysed separately for the following species: Anthyllis cytisoides, Asphodelus cerasiferus, Brachypodium retusum, Cistus albidus, Cistus clusii, Dorycnium pentaphyllum, Ephedra fragilis, Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus phoenicea, Olea europaea, Phillyrea angustifolia, Pinus halepensis, Pistacia lentiscus, Quercus coccifera, Rhamnus lycioides, Rosmarinus officinalis, Smilax aspera and Stipa tenacissima; furthermore domesticated plants were analysed, including wheat (Triticum aestivum, Triticum dicoccum, Triticum monococcum, Triticum timopheevi and Triticum turgidum), barley (Hordeum vulgare and H. vulgare Hulled) and legumes (Lathyrus cicera, Lathyrus sativus, Lens culinaris, Pisum sativa, Vicia ervilia, Vicia faba and Vicia sativa). This resulted in 290 potential markers. In addition, the organic matter of surface soils under different vegetation cover has been analysed to test the presence of the potential markers in the soil. Forty-six of the potential markers were detected in the soil organic matter, of which part have not been reported before. The results may be useful for interpretation of the organic matter composition of soils and plant remains, which can be valuable in archaeology.