Moving forwards? Palynology and the human dimension

Kevin J. Edwards*, Ralph M. Fyfe, Chris O. Hunt, J. Edward Schofield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


For the greater part of the last century, anthropogenic palynology has made a sustained contribution to archaeology and to Quaternary science in general, and pollen-analytical papers have appeared in Journal of Archaeological Science since its inception. The present paper focuses selectively upon three areas of anthropogenic palynology, enabling some assessment as to whether the field is advancing: land-use studies, archaeological site study, and modelling. The Discussion also highlights related areas including palynomorph identification and associated proxies. There is little doubt that anthropogenic palynology has contributed to the vitality of pollen analysis in general, and although published research can be replicative or incremental, site- and landscape-based studies offer fresh data for further analysis and modelling. The latter allows the testing of both palynological concepts and inferences and can inform archaeological discovery and imagination. Archaeological site studies are often difficult, but palynology can still offer much to the understanding of occupation sites and the discernment of human behaviour patterns within sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Early online date16 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

We are delighted to share in this celebration of Richard Klein's contributions to this journal and the discipline of archaeology. Such studies as Quaternary Extinctions: a Prehistoric Revolution (1989), The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins (1999) and The Dawn of Human Culture (2002) speak to us as palaeoecologists as much as they speak to archaeological science and to archaeology more broadly. We are also happy to acknowledge the support of two anonymous referees.


  • Land-use history
  • Modelling
  • On-site studies
  • Palynology


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