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Keywords:

  • SEDIMENT CHEMISTRY;
  • ANTHROPOGENIC SEDIMENTS;
  • ANTHROPOGENIC CHEMICAL RESIDUES;
  • ACID EXTRACTION;
  • ICP–AES

Archaeologists have employed sediment chemistry in site prospection for nearly a century. For example, phosphorus is a good indicator of human occupation, because it is a generic indicator of human activity. Recently, multi-element studies of sediments have successfully identified specific activity areas by analysing other elements in addition to phosphorus. To reach its full potential, however, sediment chemistry must be undertaken with an understanding of how these residues are formed and of the chemical indicators that can be used to identify specific activities. Methodologies that optimize the extraction of specific residues must be employed. Not to do so is a naïve application of the technique.