Speaker : Dr. T. R. Premathilake, Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Abstract: Plants, absorb silica as mono silisic acid for their bio-physiological processes. Most of these silica deposits in or between cells of living plant tissues as microscopic solid bodies, i.e. defined as phytoliths (silicophytolith). The most intact diagnostic phytolith are between 2 and 200 µm in size. They are widespread in many plants, which normally occur in different parts of plants, e.g. leaves, seeds, hush, culms, nuts, inflorescences and roots. Cereal plants (e.g. rice, wheat, barley, millet, maize), many other grasses and woody/herbaceous species (e.g. Euphorbiaceae, Myrtaceae, Sapindaceae, Theaceae, Musaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Amaranthaceae, Cyperaceae and Typaceae) produce very characteristic phytolith morphotypes. Phytolith morphology vary in size, shape, surface patterns under LM and SEM, and can be of value in identification of different taxonomic levels (e.g. family, sub-family, genus, species). Phytoliths, which are distinct and decay-resistant plant remains. They are well preserved under wide range of chemical and physical conditions in soil, peat and other geo- archives as the plant or plant parts die and break down. It is suggested that phytolith can be considered as one of the most durable siliceous microfossil type (i.e. one of the best proxy for the past vegetation, climate and environment). Thus, phytolith analysis in dated geo-archives can be a good tool for examining both changes in palaeoenvironmental/palaeoecological and also cultural records (archaeological), including evidence of early agriculture, plant domestication, early irrigation techniques, prehistoric stone tool function, pottery vessel function, historic/prehistoric diet and food processing. In many areas phytolith analysis is very good complementary to pollen analysis. Preliminary results of phytolith analysis on several sediment sequences collected from south India show the great potential for answering the central questions in the field of palaeoecology and archaeology, e.g. changes in vegetation, climate, origins and spread of rice and other cereal cultivation.
Organisers: Department of Ecology, French Institute of Pondicherry. Venue
Jawaharlal Nehru Conference Hall, French Institute of Pondicherry, 11, Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry - 605 001.