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Simplified Procedure for Hand Fracturing, Identifying, and Curating Small Macrocharcoal Remains

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Charred plant remains are common and significant components of many archeological assemblages, and the proper identification of these remains is essential for an excavation team to gather the maximum amount of information. Identification of charred plant remains, especially of small pieces, can be difficult due to the brittle characteristics of charcoal and changes in anatomical structure due to charring. Charcoal must be snapped, which is difficult for small specimens, or sectioned with time consuming resin embedding procedures. This study presents an alternative procedure in which small (0.7 mm thick) charcoal specimens are produced, attached to specimen mounting stubs used in scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and then hand snapped. This procedure consistently produced flat viewing surfaces. It also reduced the air evacuation time in SEM and facilitated the production of replicas.


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