Nicholas Ames

Heavy-Fraction Microdebris Enhance the Interpretation of Cultural Practices in Middle Islamic West-Central Jordan
Spring 2013

This project explores the potential of the analysis of miniscule artifacts excavated from archaeological sites worldwide to investigate the degree of cultural information lost when only examining larger artifacts. Specifically, my research uncovers the benefits of archaeological micro-debris, which are cultural and biological remains less than 4 mm in size, to provide new insights into people’s daily lives when compared against larger sized artifacts. The project uses as a case study a domestic structure from the archaeological site of Dhiban, Jordan dating to the complex middle Islamic period (ca. 12 - 15th century CE) to compare these methods of analysis. An illustrative example is the presence of marine resources appearing in the site micro-debris, but not in larger artifact sizes. This is especially revealing considering the location of the site in a very arid environment. Such finds are evidence for intricate coast trade routes otherwise unseen in the archaeological record at the site. The study reveals that smaller residue sizes often do not correlate with larger fraction-sizes in either abundance or presence of different materials, and thus provide otherwise unrepresented insight into the daily practices of Dhiban’s past.