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Handbook of Plant Palaeoecology (1st edition 2012)

R.T.J. Cappers, R. Neef

Series: Groningen Archaeological Studies 19

ISBN-13: 9789491431074

Publication year: 2012

Publication type: Book

Pages: 475

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 180 x 250 x 30 mm; 1296 g; full colour ill.

Price excl. VAT: €51.89

Price incl. VAT: €56.56

SOLD OUT. The second and revised edition has ISBN 9789493194267. 

Plant palaeoecologists use data from plant fossils and plant subfossils to reconstruct ecosystems of the past. This book deals with the study of subfossil plant material retrieved from archaeological excavations and cores dated to the Late Glacial and Holocene.

One of the main objectives of this book is to describe the processes that underlie the formation of the archaeobotanical archive and the ultimate composition of the archaeobotanical records, being the data that are sampled and identified from this immense archive. Our understanding of these processes benefits from a knowledge of plant ecology and traditional agricultural practices and food processing. This handbook summarizes the basic ecological principles that relate to the reconstruction of former vegetations and of agricultural practices in particular.

We hope this book will help palaeobotanists, environmental archaeologists, and colleagues from related disciplines optimize inferences based on what we could term “old-style” archaeobotany. And we hope that our observations will serve as an eye-opener and improve future research, not only as it is practised in our laboratories, but also as it is practised in the field.

Extra information

For sample pages from the handbook and the plant atlases by the same authors, see the Plant Atlas Project website at
"...the Handbook of Plant Palaeoecology is a must-have for Old World archaeobotanists but also highly relevant for researchers involved with the research of plants and ancient man in other parts of the world. The colourful illustrations make the book a pleasure for the eye." Otto Brinkkemper in The Holocene (2014) 24, 130-131
Short Contents

Preface 9

1 General Introduction 13
1.1 Plant taxonomy 13
1.2 Plant ecology 26
1.3 Flora and vegetation 93
1.4 Subfossil plant remains 128

2 Palynology 143
2.1 The archaeobotanical archive 143
2.2 Vegetation reconstruction 153
2.3 Pollen morphology 159

3 Non-woody macro-remains 173
3.1 The archaeobotanical archive 173
3.2 Morphology of fruits and seeds 239

4 Vegetation history of the Netherlands 351
4.1 The Late Glacial 351
4.2 The Holocene 357

5 Food economy 375
5.1 Transition to farming 375
5.2 Reconstruction of the diet 387

6 Fuel 423
6.1 Woody plants 423
6.2 Non-woody plants 425

7 Appendixes 435
7.1 Chronology of the Near East 435
7.2 Chronology of ancient Egypt 436

8 Literature 439
8.1 Taxonomy 439
8.2 Ecology 439
8.3 Flora and vegetation 440
8.4 Identification 443
8.5 Spores and pollen 445
8.6 Fruits, seeds, and mosses 446
8.7 Vegetation history 447
8.8 Food economy 449
8.9 Fuel 451
8.10 Additional references cited 451

9 Indices 457
9.1 Taxonomic and syntaxonomic index 457
9.2 Subject index 467