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An evaluation of multielement analysis of historic soil contamination to differentiate space use and former function in and around abandoned farms

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Publication details

JournalThe Holocene
DatePublished - Nov 2005
Issue number7
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1094-1099
Original languageEnglish


Historic and prehistoric human activity can cause accumulation of elements in the soil. Multielement soil analysis has been used extensively over the last two decades to study element patterns of historic soil enrichment as a means of prospecting for sites and as an aid to interpretation of space use within archaeological structures. However, there have been surprisingly few of studies designed to assist with the interpretation of the analytical results. In this investigation soils from six abandoned farms with a known history of spatial use were sampled to determine if similar patterns of trace element enhancement occur between different farms. The preliminary results show significant differences in soil elemental concentrations between the functional areas, and highlight similar patterns of element enhancement between the farms. Concentrations of Ca, P, Sr, Ba, Zn and Pb are elevated in the buildings and fields of all the farms and provide valuable information about past human activity.

    Research areas

  • multielement analysis, soil analysis, historic soil contamination, archaeology, abandoned farms, functional areas, Scotland, Great Britain, ICP-AES ANALYSIS, CHEMICAL-CHARACTERIZATION, PIEDRAS NEGRAS, HOUSE FLOORS, ANTHROSOLS, GUATEMALA, SEDIMENTS, AREAS

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